Resolve to Transform Yourself into an Evidence-based Diversity ROI Professional for 2015

Resolve to Transform Yourself into an Evidence-based Diversity ROI Professional for 2015

When it comes to setting goals for 2015 to improve your Diversity ROI and measurement methods, what are your resolutions for the New Year? What is your plan to improve your “Diversity Measurement Brand” as an effective Strategic Business Partner with critical expertise and capability? Are you familiar with the skills and capabilities needed to position yourself and your department as an effective, competent, evidence-based ROI resource the organization can call on this year?

Wikipedia defines a “New Year’s Resolution” as a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.

Some additional examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible.

Popular goals include resolutions to:

  • Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
  • Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
  • Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip

Often, it is quite a list. Some people are successful at achieving the goals they set while others sputter and can’t quite get off the blocks to run their race.

Success Rate

A 2014 comprehensive study commissioned by Australian comparison website finder.com found that of the more than 2,000 people surveyed, 42% of the participants set a New Years’ Resolution however, most failed at their goals. In fact, the study showed that almost two in three people (62%) didn’t succeed with their resolutions. Interestingly, out of those who did achieve their resolutions, three in four participants (76%) believed that sharing their goals, for example on a social networking service, helped them reach their target.

The most common reason for participants failing to complete their New Years’ Resolutions was setting unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and 23% of the group forgot about them. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions. Lessons learned from the Australian website finder.com.au offers sage advice about what to do and what not to do when planning your 2015 strategy.

In a Blog earlier this year, I mentioned that demonstrating effective, evidence-based D&I acumen is both an art and science: it results from using solid, proven, tested techniques (the science) of diversity ROI analytics and measurement strategies in an inspiring and engaging way (the art of diversity ROI analytics and measurement strategies). Rather than advocating one specific diversity intervention product or service, a strategy I have found worth considering is thinking about the active science-based ingredients that constitute an effective diversity intervention or solution — then you can match and locate the effective features in the measurement and analysis approach you are reviewing to ensure it meets your needs.

There are a huge number of diversity, inclusion, and training approaches available in the marketplace. They usually try to lure you in by highlighting their ability to address a particular problem or issue the organization is facing and promise to provide you with the things you need to achieve your organizational goals. As a diversity professional, the real trick is finding the interventions or solutions that work and work consistently to drive sustainability. If you want to implement a solution or intervention that delivers a measurable ROI or a measurable non-financial impact, you must be able to access a decision framework that is effective and drives results. The proposed solution or intervention must be able to connect to the roots of your organization’s DNA. This should be a critical area of focus for 2015.

Building a Recipe for Accountability and Success

To do this successfully, it is important to have as much detail as possible when specifying the requirements of a diversity intervention. Many projects run into difficulty, misunderstandings and differences in expected outcomes because the requirements are not planned and well-documented. These issues are often outlined in a diversity project proposal or detailed in the project’s scope documentation. Regardless of the way it is developed, the following items should be included to achieve the best chance for success for your 2015 initiatives. More importantly, the evidence-based diversity professional and the evaluation project’s sponsor need to reach an agreement about these key issues to create a sound strategic partnership and build accountability for the end result.

Ingredient 1: Does the Proposed Solution Include a Diagnostic Approach and Analytical Alignment Tools?

I have long advocated that diversity and inclusion should not be seen as a mere theory, but should be used as a performance improvement technology with its own set of ROI-based analytics and process improvement sciences. Driving business performance improvement requires that you have a detailed understanding of the diversity ROI evaluation methodology and how it works. It begins with some initial planning, and continues with the implementation of a comprehensive data collection and evaluation process. The initial planning and analysis step is critical for generating a successful diversity intervention. Many diversity practitioners trying to develop effective business solutions find out after the fact that they should have spent more time planning the strategic linkage and alignment of the diversity initiatives that will drive the business challenges and opportunities they are trying to effect.

Ingredient 2: Does the Proposed Solution Have Objectives That Are Behaviorally Specific?

When it comes to diversity evaluation projects, there are two sets of objectives. First, there are the objectives for the diversity evaluation project itself, indicating specifically what will be accomplished and delivered through the evaluation process. The other set of objectives are called the diversity initiative objectives and focuses on the goals of the actual diversity initiative that will ultimately add value to the organization.

Every diversity evaluation project should have a major project objective, and in most cases, multiple objectives. The objectives should be as specific as possible and focused directly on the diversity evaluation. Sample project objectives may focus on the following outcomes:

  • Determine if the diversity initiative is accomplishing its objectives.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses in the diversity initiative.
  • Determine the benefit/cost ratio and ROI of the diversity initiative.
  • Identify who benefited the most and least from the diversity initiative.
  • Gather data to assist in pursuing future initiatives.

As the list illustrates, the objectives are broad in scope, outlining from an overall perspective what is to be accomplished. The details of timing, specifications and specific deliverables come later. The broad diversity evaluation project objectives are critical because they bring focus to the project quickly. They define the basic parameters of the project and are often the beginning points of a discussion with those involved in the project.

Ingredient 3: Does the Proposed Solution Have a Clearly Defined Scope?

The scope of the diversity evaluation project needs to be clearly defined. The scope can pinpoint key parameters addressed by the project. The following list shows typical scope issues that should be defined in the project:

  • Target group for the evaluation.
  • Location of the target group.
  • Time frame for the evaluation.
  • Technology necessary to conduct the evaluation.
  • Access to stakeholders.
  • Product line(s) to cover.
  • Type of diversity process/activity/competencies being evaluated or improved.
  • Constraints on data collection.

Perhaps the project is limited to certain employee or demographic groups, a functional area of the business, a specific location, a unique type of strategy or a precise time frame. Sometimes there is a constraint on the type of data collected or access to certain individuals, such as particular customers in a targeted market segment. Whatever the scope involves, it needs to be clearly defined in this section.

Ingredient 4: Is the Timing Clearly Defined?

Timing is critical in showing specifically when the diversity intervention activities will occur. This means not only the timing of the delivery of the final diversity ROI study report but also the timing of particular steps and events — including when data are needed, analyzed and reported and when presentations are made. The following list shows typical scheduled activities:

  • Diversity initiatives or solutions developed.
  • Diversity initiatives implementation started.
  • Diversity initiatives implementation completed.
  • Start of the diversity ROI evaluation project.
  • Data collection design completed.
  • Evaluation design completed.
  • Data collection begins.
  • Data collection completed.
  • Specific data collection issues (for example, pilot testing, executive interviews).
  • Data analysis completed.
  • Preliminary results available.
  • Report developed.
  • Presentation to management.

Ingredient 5: Does the Proposed Solution Spell Out the Specific Diversity Intervention Deliverables?

This section describes exactly what the project sponsor or client will receive when the diversity intervention is completed in terms of improved competencies, reports, documents, systems and processes. Whatever the specific deliverables, they are clearly defined in this section. Most projects will have a final report, but they often go much further, delivering new skill sets, processes and suggested methodologies for improving the diversity process and business issues being addressed.

Ingredient 6: Does the Proposed Solution Clearly Utilize a Proven Science-based Methodology and Approach?

If a specific methodology is to be used for the diversity ROI intervention, it should be defined and state the scientific basis for its ability to obtain measurable results. A reference should be made to the appropriateness of the methodology, and how the methodology will accomplish what is needed for the diversity initiative to be successful. This helps prevent initiatives that are merely “fads” that do not and cannot generate the desired outcome. Just because participants enjoy the intervention doesn’t mean that you will have improved performance. It must be constructed with key ingredients to achieve its behaviorally stated objectives and measurable, evidence-based outcomes. A well-designed diversity intervention can produce both: an enjoyable process and measurable results.

Ingredient 7: Does the Proposed Solution Have Clearly Defined Steps?

The specific steps that will occur should be defined showing key milestones. This provides a step-by-step understanding and tracking of the diversity evaluation project such that at any given time the project sponsor or client can see not only where progress is made but also where the evaluation project is going next.

Ingredient 8: Does the Proposed Solution Spell Out the Resources Required for Success?

This section should define specific resources required to implement the intervention. This could include access to individuals, vendors, technology, equipment, facilities, competitors or customers. All resources that may be needed should be listed along with details regarding the timing and circumstances under which the resources will be needed.

Ingredient 9: Does the Proposed Solution Highlight Fully Loaded Costs and Benefits?

The cost section details the specific costs tied to different steps of the intervention process. There is often reluctance to detail costs; however, it is important to understand the different steps of the process and their relative costs. This cost outline should also be linked to driving the organization’s strategic objectives and mission. When calculating the diversity return on investment for a diversity initiative, all costs are considered. This includes not only development and implementation costs but also the costs of evaluating the program.

Ingredient 10: Does the Diversity Intervention Provide a Causal Chain of Impact to Demonstrate and Isolate Diversity’s Contribution to the Results Versus Other Contributors?

Eventually a diversity initiative or intervention should lead to some level of impact on the organization’s business. In some situations, the diversity initiative is aimed at softer issues, such as improving the diverse workforce climate, employee satisfaction, diverse customer group satisfaction and reducing diverse workgroup conflict reduction. In other situations, diversity initiatives are aimed at more tangible issues such as cost reductions, market share, revenue improvements, productivity and number of voluntary turnovers, all sorted by demographic group. Whatever the case, diversity initiatives and interventions should have multiple levels of objectives and must be able to demonstrate how the specific diversity intervention drove the improvement differences and results that were achieved. These levels of objectives, ranging from qualitative to quantitative, define precisely what will occur as a particular diversity initiative is implemented in the organization. These objectives are so critical that they need special attention in their development and use. The Hubbard Diversity ROI Model and seven-level chain of impact can assist you in generating diversity interventions with these characteristics.

Ingredient 11: Does the Diversity Intervention Have a Comprehensive Data Collection Process?

Data collection is the most crucial step of the evaluation process because without data, there is no evidence of the diversity initiative’s impact. During the data collection process, it is necessary to determine the participants’ reactions to and satisfaction with the diversity initiative (Level 1), their level of learning from the intervention (Level 2), the amount of application and implementation that happened as a consequence of the diversity initiative (Level 3), the resulting business impact (Level 4), and whether the initiative generated benefits and a return on investment (Levels 5 and 6). It is necessary to collect data from at least levels 1-4 because of the chain of impact that must exist for a diversity initiative to be successfully applied into the organizational system and provide value. To reap the benefits of the chain of impact, a key business problem that can be addressed by diversity must be identified during the Needs Analysis Phase (Level 0). It also requires that participants in the diversity initiative experience a positive reaction to the initiative and its potential applications. They must acquire new knowledge or skills to perform at an improved level that is a direct result of the diversity intervention. As application or implementation opportunities arise, there should be changes in their “on-the-job” behavior that result in a measurable, positive impact on the organization. The only way to know if the chain of impact has occurred up to this point is to collect data at all four levels. The diversity initiative will also generate benefits that are either quantitative or qualitative in the forms of benefit-to-cost, dollar return on investment and anecdotal impacts.

An effective evidence-based diversity ROI initiative must be built on a comprehensive, evidence-based planning and data collection model that incorporates appropriate scientific process and critical factual information. By utilizing these science-based techniques to plan and collect data, your diversity interventions and evaluation studies in 2015 will begin on a solid foundation that positions the initiatives for improved performance and organizational success.

Sample Resolutions for your 2015 Transformation Strategy could include any and all of the following:

  1. I will align my Diversity and Inclusion initiatives with my organization’s overall business strategies to drive its goals, objectives and outcomes.

      2. I will design and deliver better, more effective Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives using Diversity ROI approaches such as the Hubbard Diversity ROI Methodology and its 7-Level Evaluation framework. This Framework will consist of evaluating my initiatives at the appropriate level depending on the specific initiative’s and stakeholder’s requirements:

  • Level 0: Business and performer needs analysis.
  • Level 1: Reaction, satisfaction and planned actions.
  • Level 2: Learning.
  • Level 3: Application and behavioral transfer.
  • Level 4: Business impact.
  • Level 5: Diversity return-on-investment, benefit-to-cost ratio.
  • Level 6: Intangibles.

 

  1. I will support my organization’s greatest asset—it’s people—by providing clear pathways for development using Diversity ROI-based tools such as the Hubbard 7-Level Evaluation framework to generate a measurement “Chain of Impact” to gauge the strength of the linkage between my Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) initiatives and their impact on the organization’s bottom-line. I will use this feedback to determine whether the development objectives have been achieved.

 

  1. I will use technology to build innovative processes and improve performance using team-based measurement and evaluation processes as well as automated online calculators, Dashboards and Scorecards to generate consistency and a clear baseline to judge progress over time.

 

  1. I will use research-based ROI practices to improve the effectiveness of my Diversity training programs. This will include conducting Diversity ROI studies I can use as communication tools to demonstrate the effectiveness of our initiatives as well as build an enhanced “Brand image”.

 

  1. I will use Diversity measurement, Diversity analytics (predictive, etc.), and other data to measure and improve organizational and individual performance.

 

  1. I will be a better leader in 2015 by increasing my personal competency and skills in the area of Diversity ROI measurement and evaluation (through Diversity ROI training and Certification).

 

  1. I will apply a worldview to problem solving by learning “how to” implement Diversity ROI-based analytical case study initiatives across cultures globally.

 

  1. I will help others reach their full potential through specific development initiatives by monitoring measuring and evaluating individual performance and the degree to which targeted level improvement milestones have been reached.

 

  1. I will use creative tactics and measurement strategies to involve the learner and improve the retention impact of our organizational talent base.

 

Adopting the Diversity ROI Evaluation and Measurement Resolutions, mentioned above, for 2015 can be an excellent way to kick off the New Year! Wishing you all the best and much success in your transformation!

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