“Evaluation, Reliability, and Validity: How Credible are Your Diversity Initiative Assessments of Progress and Results?”

Performance MeasurementEvaluation is a task that every Diversity Practitioner will face at one time or another. No matter what your role such as Trainer, Consultant, Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), Council Member, ERG/BRG Leader, etc., conducting an evaluation to assess key aspects of your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives is inevitable.

Two Definitions of Evaluation

People do not always agree on one definition of evaluation. Following are statements that reflect two different definitions:

  • “Evaluation is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing data in order to determine whether and to what degree objectives have been or are being achieved.”
  • “Evaluation is the systematic process of collecting and analyzing data in order to make a decision.”

Notice that the first ten words in each of the definitions are the same. However, the reasons-the “Why!”-for collecting and analyzing the data reflect a notable difference in the philosophies behind each definition. The first reflects a philosophy that as an evaluator, you are interested in knowing only if something worked, if it was effective in doing what it was supposed to do. The second statement reflects the philosophy that evaluation makes claims on the value of something in relation to the overall operation of a Diversity intervention, project, or event. Many experts agree that an evaluation should not only assess program results but also identify ways to improve the program being evaluated. A Diversity program or initiative may be effective but of limited value to the client or sponsor. You can imagine, however, using an evaluation to make a decision (the second definition) even if a program has reached its objectives (the first definition).

For some, endorsing Diversity Evaluation is a lot like endorsing regular visits to the dentist. People are quick to endorse both activities, but when it comes to doing either one, many Diversity Practitioners are very uncomfortable.

Evaluation: An Essential Element of Success

Evaluation is an absolutely essential ingredient when you are attempting to close performance gaps or improve performance. It is the only way to determine the connections between performance gaps, improvement programs, and cost-effectiveness. Evaluation is one of the most cost-effective activities in diversity performance improvement, because it is the one activity that, if applied correctly, can ensure success. It is often resisted, however, because of the fear that it could document failure. Evaluation is the process that helps us make decisions about the value of all the activities we have been engaged in and whether they are a worthwhile investment for the organization. Without systematic evaluation we are left with “wishful thinking” or self-service impressions that are often wrong and sometimes dangerous.

All evaluation studies must satisfy two criteria: reliability and validity. Establishing these criteria up front will help you communicate your expectations to the C-Suite and any vendors who deliver programs and assist in your Diversity initiatives. Reliability, the simpler of the two, requires all evaluation methods give the same results each time we measure. This protects you against measures that change constantly and produce different results every time they are used, because of the measuring instrument. Reliability is relatively easy to achieve, yet its importance is often overlooked. To overcome this you must utilize specific Diversity science procedures and instruments for measuring the aspects of Diversity performance and goal achievement that are reflected in the initiative’s objectives, strategies and the organization’s performance gaps. Next, you have to standardize these procedures such that they measure in the same way every time. These activities can be perfectly compatible with the way correctly designed Diversity initiatives are structured and administered.

The second criterion, validity, requires that all evaluations measure exactly and only what it is supposed to be measuring. This criterion is one of the requirements most often violated in Diversity performance and other assessments. For example, if we attempt to measure the amount of knowledge employees gained in a Diversity Competency Training program using a “Reaction” form that asks them how much they learned, the results will indicate how much employees “think” they learned, not how much they “actually” learned. Reaction forms too often report high amounts of learning when little occurred and vice versa (Clark, 1982). Consequently, training reaction evaluation could be reliable but not valid in these cases, because the actual results were the opposite of what the invalid instrument reliably reported! If the instrument reported the same invalid result each time it was used, it is still reliable—which is why we need both reliability and validity for all evaluation activities.

An example of a valid measurement of learning would be a Diversity competency problem-solving exercise or memory test (provided they represented the knowledge and skills the participants learned during the training. The more you make use of Diversity sciences and research evidence about the event being measured, the better your chances of for validity. Performance evaluation systems such as the Hubbard 7-Level Evaluation Methodology, integrates these approaches in the process.

Conducting a comprehensive Diversity Evaluation is the only true way to know if Diversity and inclusion programs or initiatives are delivering the outcome results expected by key stakeholders. It is essential that Diversity Practitioners master critical Diversity and Inclusion evaluation methods using technologies that are rooted in Diversity ROI® science. Why? Because the perceived value and credibility of what we do to be seen as a true Business Partner and Professional depends on it!

Diversity ROI Measurement Skills in Small Doses: Moving beyond Excuses

CEOs Want to Know the Impact of Diversity ROI on Initiatives but Aren’t Getting It!

A recent study of CEOs analyzing what CEOs want from their Diversity organizations concluded that CEOs want to see the impact and ROI of their Diversity investments but instead receive only activity and satisfaction data. So, why aren’t Diversity & Inclusion Executives, Managers, Practitioners, etc. measuring their impact and sharing with their CEOs? After all, this is not exactly a revelation. Some of the leading reasons are lack of resources, lack of support from the CEO, lack of funding, lack of skills, etc. My take: these are all just excuses since there are a huge number of resources, books, workshops, etc., available. This strongly suggests that many Diversity Practitioners need a serious skill update or should excuse themselves out of the job. If they remain without these skills, at some point, they may face elimination and/or extinction.

This is the 21st Century, with its emphasis on cutting edge as well as “State of the Practice” technological and analytical advances, yet Diversity Practitioners are using old-fashion measurement skills where the wheels immediately come off of their measurement system wagons. We haven’t been in the “Old West” of Diversity measurement for quite a few decades. State of the Art Diversity ROI processes have been here for quite some time.

Accountability Trends

Many enlightened business managers often take a professional business approach to Diversity, with ROI being part of the strategy. Top executives who watched their diversity budgets continue to grow without appropriate accountability measures have become frustrated with this approach. In an attempt to respond to the situation, they have turned to Diversity Return on Investment (DROI®). Top executives are now demanding DROI® calculations from Diversity departments where they were not required previously.
So, what factors prevent us from mastering Diversity ROI measurement? Here are a few excuses I hear that Diversity Practitioners say are consistently challenging and “Small Doses” to begin to address them:

Issue-1: Lack of Skills and Orientation
Many Diversity staff members neither understand ROI nor do they have the basic skills necessary to apply the process within their scope of responsibilities. Diversity ROI Measurement and evaluation is not usually part of the preparation for the Diversity job or taught as part of a university education focused on diversity. Also, the typical Diversity training program or intervention does not focus on results, but more on diversity awareness concepts, activities, or other issues. Staff members attempt to measure results by measuring learning only instead of the full range of Diversity performance intervention outcomes (at all 7 levels) that drive business. Consequently, this is a tremendous barrier to implementation that must be changed such that the overall orientation, attitude, and skills of the Diversity staff member are focused on business results, impact, and/or outcomes.

Small Dose-1: Build DROI® Skills and Measurement Orientation
Don’t wait until you are asked about the DROI® of your Diversity intervention to gain competency and business acumen in this area, start learning about DROI® today! Attend a Diversity ROI Webinar, Workshop, Read books on Diversity ROI, Use DROI® Tools, etc.

Issue-2: Faulty Needs Assessment
Many existing Diversity interventions are not based on an adequate needs assessment. Some diversity interventions have been implemented for the wrong reasons based on requests to chase a popular fad or trend in the industry. Even worse, they schedule training for everyone in the organization costing thousands or millions of dollars with NO measurable DROI®. If the intervention is not needed, the benefits from the program will be minimal or wasted. A DROI® calculation for an unnecessary program will likely yield a negative value. This barrier can be eliminated by training and certifying Diversity Executives and Practitioner in programs such as the Hubbard Diversity ROI technologies, training measurement workshops, etc.

Small Dose-2: Learn the Detailed Steps to Conduct a Comprehensive Needs Assessment
Needs analysis is the cornerstone of any Diversity performance analysis effort. It provides you with appropriate justification for either developing or not developing your Diversity intervention. You must conduct a needs analysis, no matter how abbreviated, before any Diversity intervention takes place.
The objectives of a needs analysis are to:
• Describe the exact nature of a performance discrepancy
• Determine the cause(s) of the discrepancy
• Recommend the appropriate solution(s)
• Describe the target population

Issue-3: FEAR
Some Diversity departments do not pursue DROI® measurement implementation due to fear of failure or fear of the unknown. Fear of failure appears in many ways. Designers, developers, facilitators, and program owners may be concerned about the consequences of a negative DROI®. They fear that the DROI® measurement process will be a performance evaluation tool instead of a process improvement tool. Also, the DROI® process will stir up the traditional fear of change. This fear is often based on unrealistic assumptions and a lack of knowledge of the process.

Small Dose-3: Overcome FEAR by Taking Action
The best way to overcome FEAR is by (a) taking action, (b) generating results, (c) evaluating the outcome, and (d) implementing improvements. FEAR is often based on a lack of knowledge so the antidote is to “learn” and “master” the DROI® skills and processes.

Issue-4: Discipline and Planning
A successful DROI® evaluation implementation requires much planning and a disciplined approach to keep the process on track. Implementation schedules, evaluation targets, DROI® analysis plans, measurement and evaluation policies, and follow-up schedules are required. The Diversity Change Management team may not have enough discipline and determination to stay on course. This becomes a barrier, particularly if there are no immediate pressures to measure the return. If the current senior management group is not requiring a DROI® evaluation, the Diversity Change Management team may not allocate time for planning and coordination. Also, other pressures and priorities often eat into the time necessary for an effective DROI® evaluation implementation. Only carefully planned implementation efforts succeed.

Small Dose-4: Build DROI® Discipline and Planning Focus
There is really no substitute for implementing a thorough approach to a DROI® evaluation process. It must be implemented using effective project planning and management skills as well as following the DROI® methodology according to each step in its design.

Issue-5: False Assumptions
Many Diversity staff members have false assumptions about the DROI® process that keep them from attempting DROI®. Typical assumptions include: (a) The impact of intervention cannot be accurately calculated, (b) Operating managers do not want to see the results of Diversity expressed in monetary values. They won’t believe it, (c) If the CEO does not ask for the DROI®, he or she is not expecting it, (d) CDO denial – “I have a professional, competent staff. Therefore, I do not have to justify the effectiveness of our programs”, (e) Learning or this type of intervention is a complex but necessary activity. Therefore, it should not be subjected to an accountability process, etc. These false assumptions form perceptible barriers that impede the progress of a DROI® evaluation implementation.

Small Dose-5: Eliminate Any False Assumptions
Let’s face it, the DROI® evaluation process and its associated analytics are here to stay. It’s only realistic that Diversity practitioners eliminate any false assumptions, wishful thinking and/or outdated measurement paradigms. In the future, there is likely to be even more demands for DROI® analysis feedback, demonstrated credibility and intervention performance value that tie to the organization’s bottom line.

Using these processes has the added benefit of improving the effectiveness of all Diversity interventions we conduct. Only those Diversity Practitioners who can operate as full strategic business partners will have what’s needed to survive for the long term. Do You Have What It Takes To “Survive”, “Thrive”, and “Drive” Real Business Performance using Diversity & Inclusion?

Why Diversity Professionals Need Predictive and Other Analytics

There’s a fair amount of buzz around diversity measurement and analytics. Advances in software, newly available data sources and how-to manuals have made it easier gain access to diversity measures.

Although interest in measuring the effects of diversity has been growing, the topic still challenges even the most sophisticated and progressive diversity departments. Many diversity professionals and practitioners know they must begin to show how diversity is linked to the bottom line or they will have difficulty maintaining funding, gaining support and assessing progress.

Over the past several years, diversity journals abound with volumes of information about the effect of a diverse workforce. The journal information is primarily from a talent representation point of view, focusing on organizational makeup of race, rank and gender (counting heads). Many of these diversity professionals are working with inconsistent, basic information and have yet to move from being reactive to proactive and predictive. In short, they have made little progress along the data-to-information-to-wisdom continuum needed to provide sophisticated diverse workforce insights that are critical to strategic decision-making.

How would you respond to the following questions:

  • Do you struggle with defining or measuring the success of diversity initiatives or other diversity interventions?
  • Are you constantly fighting the battle to show and justify the value that diversity initiatives or other diversity interventions are bringing to your organization?
  • Does your organization view diversity initiatives or other diversity interventions as an expense versus an investment with predicted returns?
  • Do you need to link diversity initiatives or interventions with the value it produces for your company?
  • Do you need a method of predicting (forecasting) the value of diversity initiatives or other diversity interventions to help decide whether to train and/or do something else?
  • Are your current diversity evaluation efforts always after the fact — do you need a way to measure success using leading indicators that drive continuous improvement?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then predictive analytics for diversity is for you.

For the past eight years, I have been researching and developing a predictive analytics for diversity approach and framework that addresses all of the above questions and more. My goal is to create the next-level of diversity ROI-based tools that give diversity professionals a competitive edge and alignment to drive business performance and results.

What Are Analytics?
Analytics come in different types with a specific focus. They can be defined as follows:

  • Analytics: the science of analysis.
  • Descriptive analytics: tells what has happened in the past and usually the cause of the outcome.
  • Predictive analytics: focuses on the future, telling what is likely to happen given a stated approach.
  • Prescriptive analytics: tells the best course of action.

Descriptive diversity analyticscan help us understand human capital challenges and opportunities in utilizing a diverse workforce. On the other hand, predictive diversity analytics helps us to identify investment value and a means to improve future outcomes from diversity interventions and initiatives.

Companies struggle with evaluating whether their programs meet business needs and if they are worthwhile investments. Reasons given for not measuring diversity’s effect on business outcomes include statements such as, “It is too difficult to isolate diversity’s impact on results vs. the impact of other factors,” or “Evaluation is not standardized enough to compare well across functions.”

Sound business practices dictate that diversity professionals collect data to judge progress toward meeting the organization’s strategies and annual multi-year objectives. The Hubbard Predictive Analytics Framework, for example, is an approach that provides data to executives, including:

  • Predicting the success of diversity intervention in the three areas of intention, adoption and impact, and measuring to see if success has been achieved.
  • Leading indicators of future adoption (transfer of the intervention outcomes) and impact (business results).
  • Making recommendations for continuous improvement.
  • Isolating diversity and inclusion’s impact versus the impact of other factors.

The beauty of predictive analytics for diversity is that it uses leading measures (intention and adoption) as a signal of results (impact). If the leading indicators are below predicted success thresholds, actions can be implemented to make adjustments so the desired results are realized.

You can interweave outcomes and leading indicators into diversity interventions during the design and delivery phases to enhance their predictive validity and consistency in achieving sustained benefits. Predictive analytics practices help diversity and inclusion organizations move from an event-driven function to one that predicts success, measure performance against those predictions, and seen as returning significant shareholder value for the funds invested.

All told, the predictive numbers certainly support the world’s current fascination with analytics — and suggest that focus will continue to intensify in the years to come. Are you on board? If so, you will find an informative body of knowledge and insights waiting for your use to drive strategic performance improvement and success for your organization.

Diversity Process Consulting or Intervention Consulting: How Do We Demonstrate Our Unique Value?

Building an Effective Diversity Measurement System

 

The creation of an effective Diversity measurement system and “best” practices cannot be a mechanical modeling exercise. It must be preceded by an inspection and utilization of basic business principles. It must focus on organizational and departmental strategic thinking as well as an assessment of the desired quality of work-life. Developing the actual measures is easy compared to the amount of time that should be spent thinking about what is important to the organization’s strategic business objectives and the expectations of the diversity measurement process.

 

Key steps to building an effective measurement system

 

Creating an effective Diversity measurement system and process that embodies these concepts involves at least five critical steps:

  • Review the Strategic Business Plan for Needs
  • Formulate Research Questions
  • Design the Study Methodology
  • Collect and Analyze Data
  • Implement Solutions and Communicate Results

 

Each step in the process logically builds on the previous step which generates an evidenced-based framework that creates a “Best Practice” method for proving Diversity’s link to performance.

 

With proper training and skill/competency development, one of the more critical roles a Diversity Practitioner and Professional can perform is that of a Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm. This role in the Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc. Diversity Discipline Framework requires the Practitioner to design, develop and deliver or evaluate diversity performance solutions; maintain and apply an in-depth working knowledge in any one or more of the diversity performance improvement areas of expertise; take a disciplined approach to assessing individual and organizational effectiveness in the midst of collective mixtures of differences and similarities, diagnose causes of diversity tensions from differences, similarities and complexities, and recommend a set of interventions; as well as design solutions to improve diverse workforce performance and/or solutions to improve the organization’s performance.

 

I have always viewed Diversity ROI & Inclusion methods as “performance improvement technologies”. I am also a strong supporter of participatory approaches to performance improvement, from involving stakeholders in the identification of needs and their causal factors to determining solution alternatives, selecting the solution, planning and managing the change, and monitoring and evaluating the change. This active stakeholder participation is critical to the sustainable success of any Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) intervention, not only because we gain real buy-in from stakeholders, but also because part of what we do as rigorous Practitioners ultimately, is to change the way people think about and approach D&I performance solutions in organizations.

 

Diversity Intervention Consulting is primarily focused on a specific transaction, the provision of an intervention (e.g., Cultural Competency Skills for Leaders training), whether it is a specific process or product. In this case, the performance consultant, as “expert,” carries the bulk of the responsibility for delivering the intervention, but does not typically stick around for the consequences of such interventions. Partially rooted in the sociological tradition in new systems theory which views organizations as self-organizing social systems, Performance/Process Consulting provides a different approach. With a Performance/Process Consulting approach, however, the Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm and the client are equal partners who share the responsibility for the desired change. There is a reduced chance of falling into fads or trendy solutions that may be insufficient or not fully applicable to the organizational realities, because both the Diversity Performance Consultant/Technologisttm and the client are partners in the change and its consequences. Both have a stake in the success of the intervention, and both learn lessons along the way. Moreover, they involve others in the organization, so that these lessons learned benefit more than just a few.

 

I am convinced that the real value of our work is much more than a roster of interventions (no matter how evidenced-based); rather, it is the paradigm shift that we contribute to in the course of our involvement with our stakeholders. Our ultimate value is in the sustainable and positive change of the organization’s performance system that is now able to operate at its goal or outcome level. While neither resource was utilized exclusively, it is certainly worthwhile for us to reflect on our own approach and determine whether we consciously or subconsciously assessed the situation to determine what balance or blend would be of most value for the given situation.

 

It is always helpful to review our Performance Consulting approach because of the wide range of relevant topics and ROI-based metrics that fit under the performance improvement umbrella. I am fond of saying that “focusing on tactics without a strategic framework is like learning to run faster in the wrong direction”. You cannot make a strategic contribution without a tight alignment and linkage to the business objectives and success metrics of the organization. If you want to have your interventions resonate with the C-suite and line managers of the organization, they must be based in the real bottom-line needs that drive organizational performance. Whether the organizational initiative is diversity training to teach cultural competency skills, selling products to emerging market clientele, innovating new products and services for a global market, delivering healthcare services, serving governmental constituents, meeting a wide range of student needs, improving the customer service experience, etc., “strategically aligned” diversity performance strategies have the best chance at success and sustainability.

Let’s take a look at an example that helps to clarify this relationship. First, among the organization’s strategic objectives, you find a series of crucial performance areas. One of these areas focuses on an objective of improved customer service. Based upon the importance of this area to the business, the diversity organization has created a corresponding strategic objective to analyze and improve service across all demographic market segments. In the second step, you determine that for service to be improved in these targeted markets, the critical success factor areas must include “improved communication”, “culturally appropriate interactions”, quick access, increased satisfaction, and accurate information. Finally, these critical success factor areas lead you to select diversity performance measures and indicators that support each critical success factor area such as the “percentage of multilingual service transactions delivered”, “number of rings to answer” when a customer calls the organization, “percentage of favorable response on your diverse customer satisfaction survey”, etc. This type of alignment drives improved performance and gains top management support.

Both Diversity Process Consulting and Diversity Intervention Consulting can offer strategic value to the organization. The key is how well each Performance Consulting method meets critical needs of the business to drive its goals, outcomes and success. At what value level would stakeholders rate your internal Performance Consulting methods today? What do you need to do differently to enhance your role as a value-added business partner?

Dr. Hubbard is an expert in Organizational Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Applied Performance Improvement and Measurement Strategies, Strategic Planning, Diversity Measurement, and Organizational Change Methodologies. He holds a Practitioner Certification and Master Practitioner Certification in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), a Neuro-science discipline. Dr. Hubbard earned Bachelors and Masters Degrees from The Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. with Honors in Business Administration. Dr. Hubbard is available for Keynote Presentations, Executive Briefings, Workshops, etc. He can be reached at http://www.hubbardnhubbardinc.com/contact-us.html

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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