Dear Ad Agency: Here’s how to track your DEI efforts

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Keeping track of the right KPIs for your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts provide immediate feedback about how you’re progressing toward your goals.

The right KPIs help agency leaders track, evaluate and improve those unique areas that will lead to DEI success. Importantly, having the right set of KPIs and transparency around those KPIs communicates how serious you are about creating an inclusive workplace to internal and external stakeholders.

The question you might be asking now is this — What are the right KPIs/metrics to track for my DEI efforts?

DEI Metrics for measurable progress

DEI metrics help organizations set program goals, measure the impact of initiatives, and identify where they may be failing. KPIs also serve to remove the emotion in DEI initiatives by presenting hard data that enables a rational, objective and productive approach to diversity opportunities and challenges.

However, these benefits are only available when the right metrics are tracked. Selecting meaningful DEI metrics depends on several factors, including your business strategy, the maturity (if any) of current DEI programs and the specific business goals you want to achieve through DEI initiatives. Understanding the interplay of these factors will be critical to selecting meaningful metrics for your agency.

Although specific business goals will be different across organizations, the intent of DEI initiatives will be similar for many marketing agencies:

  • Find growth opportunities and potential risks.
  • Track and evaluate progress of initiatives e.g., sense of belonging, culture shift, etc.
  • Measure return on investment.

Effective DEI management requires selecting metrics to track your performance against business goals. An effective way to ensure the right metrics are selected is to work with leaders and employees to achieve a deep understanding of the challenges faced.

Finding growth opportunities and potential risks

Agencies must first learn where the growth opportunities and potential risks are prior to launching a DEI strategy. Identifying and putting the right metrics in place help direct energy appropriately in the organization. Here are some of the metrics that can help.

  • Representation: This metric measures the percentage of workers from diverse groups currently employed with your business. The representation metric helps identify groups that are underrepresented and signals that resources should be allocated to improve their presence within the workforce. Major Key Alert (DJ Khaled voice) — it is important to further segment this metric across actual functions because oftentimes we may see representation across the organization but not in leadership roles.
  • Retention: This charts the average tenure of workers across all monitored groups. Agencies want to see an equitable trend for worker retention and where current statistics show a bias on any side, you can work to correct it through this metric.
  • Recruitment: You might have a blind spot in your recruiting process that discourages diverse groups from applying. Understanding how candidates from these groups are interacting with the process from application to final interview will help structure a more diverse process.
  • Promotion: Your agency workplace is not truly equitable until all employees are offered a fair opportunity to rise in the organization. Tracking how promotions are awarded allows for a deeper analysis of inequities in the process.
  • Pay and benefits: This metric compares how individuals from monitored groups earn financial and non-financial rewards, compared to non-members of such groups.

Tracking progress of initiatives

All the metrics mentioned above will be significant in tracking the progress of your diversity and inclusion strategic plan. In addition to these, there are other metrics that can be used to better understand how well DEI initiatives are performing.

  • Sense of belonging: While it is one of the more difficult to measure metrics, it is important to a feeling of inclusiveness at work. Sense of belonging tracks how settled and satisfied diverse groups are in the organization, on the one hand, and how comfortable majority groups are with their colleagues. An effective way to measure this is by monitoring membership of employee resource groups, buddy programs, and other work-life balance initiatives.
  • Participation rates in DEI programs: This is representative of the level of buy-in towards DEI initiatives across the agency.
  • Diversity representation in mentoring/sponsorship schemes: Employees want equal access to resources that can help them grow professionally. Tracking this metric helps identify how well mentorship and sponsorship opportunities are being dispersed throughout your agency.
  • Positive press: Good press often indicates that many things are being done right. However, keep in mind that this is only the case if your agency has been upfront and entirely transparent about its efforts and their results.

Measuring return on investment

Metrics that measure return on investment may not necessarily be important for all agencies. They are most relevant for those agencies that have tied their DEI efforts to specific business goals, whether financial or non-financial.

The choice of ROI will depend on the business goals that were mapped to DEI efforts. Some metrics that may be relevant here include:

  • Innovation: You can track the number of patents filed (side note: I want to see agencies file more patents) or the increased quality and frequency of innovative ideas being developed via DEI efforts. It may also be useful to measure the dollar value of increased innovation, compared to pre-DEI periods.
  • Growth performance: Certain agencies may want to leverage DEI to increase the organization’s growth. Metrics that can be used for measuring growth include number of new customers and growth in Agency Gross Income (AGI).
  • Retention: For agencies that want to reduce employee churn and strengthen their desirability for talent, percentage decline in churn can be a good signal and measure of a great place to work.

Are you interested in building a DEI scorecard for your marketing agency to track your DEI initiatives? Contact Jeff Meade so we can discover what a successful DEI strategy looks like for your agency.

Agency Advisor :: I help marketing agencies scale their business.

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