Moving from Activity to Results: What the ‘C-Suite” Really Wants From Our Diversity Efforts

Numbers and the Bottom-line
Business is and always has been a numbers or a bottom-line results game. With the advancements in information processing technology, today’s executives have access to a range of data which is nearly infinite in its depth and breath. There is almost nothing that a computer can’t process at incomprehensible speeds producing the opportunity for “big-data” analytics on just about anything. Computers are churning numbers out on sales volume, accounts receivable and payable, production efficiency, market penetration, customer buying preferences, as well as making suggestions about what you should buy next and hundreds of other subjects including projections for the future. The numbers tell management how much something costs, how many units are being produced and sold, how long the lead time is for delivery of parts or products. They are not only descriptive, they are also predictive. In short, they drive the business.

 

Diversity and Inclusion executives as well as other diversity professionals face many challenging audiences when it comes to demonstrating diversity’s contribution and value; however some of the toughest audiences are in their own company’s or client’s C-suite. Most executives enter these meetings with at least two perspectives. First, they are wondering are you credible and confident enough to be here? In very short order these executive will form an impression of you and make assumptions about your department/organization’s performance based upon the results you have produced for the organization. Were these results tangible and performance based? Is there clear evidence that it was your Diversity initiative that generated these outcomes? What else could have contributed to this result?

Second, did the results you produced help the organization take advantage of an opportunity, meet a need, and/or solve a business-related problem? In other words, did your department’s Diversity initiatives produce outcomes that add measurable value in financial and other terms? Executives listen for impact and want to know there is urgency and opportunity around the topic you are presenting to them. To keep your meeting with them focused, you must consider how your measurement conversation states a clear takeaway upfront and tells them what your efforts have accomplished in ROI terms as well as delineate what you need from them.

Demonstrating a Diversity ROI (DROI®) Causal “Chain of Impact”
A successful meeting offers “direction”. Once they hear your message, executives will want to know how you can prove the results were delivered and what you plan to do next. The Diversity ROI (DROI®) methodology you use to produce the results must give them a step-by-step roadmap so they buy into the claims you make about the results. The Hubbard Diversity ROI (DROI®) methodology for example, provides seven levels of analysis using “evidence-based” outcome approaches that demonstrate a “causal chain of impact” to the results generated. These analysis levels include:

  • Level-0: Business Needs/Performance Analysis
  • Level-1: Reaction, Satisfaction, and Planned Actions Analysis
  • Level-2: Learning Analysis
  • Level-3: Application and Behavioral Transfer Analysis
  • Level-4: Business Impact Analysis
  • Level-5: Benefit-to-Cost; Diversity Return-on-Investment Analysis
  • Level-6: Intangibles Analysis

This allows C-suite and Board-level executives to follow the step-by-step actions taken that are linked to the results produced from the Business Needs/Performance Analysis phase through to their development, implementation and ROI impact. You will know the conversation was successful and had “impact” if it ends with the executives taking action in concert with your intended objectives and what is in the best interest of the organization.

It is much easier to achieve this success if your Diversity initiatives contain specific measures, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other analytics that are measurable as well as linked and aligned with issues and challenges important to the business. These numbers can be validated by showing current and actual historical data that reflect the impact of the results and their reported value by others who apply and have success using the Diversity-based solutions you develop. They can also be compared to internal and external benchmarks that give a C-Suite executive comparative data to judge the outcome’s relative performance and contribution value. One of the Hubbard Metriclink® Diversity ROI Monitoring and Benchmarking Services for example, helps organizations track, monitor, and measure and assess the global impact of their Diversity progress in the following Global Benchmark Areas and much more:

  • Market Share ROI
  • Diversity Training, Education and ROI Impact
  • Vision, Goals, and Policies
  • Diversity Communications
  • Performance Improvement Training and Career Development
  • Community and Government Relations
  • Products, Services, and Supplier Relations
  • Marketing and Customer Services
  • Performance Improvement
  • Diverse Workforce Innovation and Creativity ROI
  • Leadership and Accountability
  • And at least 15 other areas

Using this approach, C-Suite executives can compare the results your Diversity interventions have achieved against local and global performance benchmarks. This will help set Diversity and Inclusion measurement standards for future performance and best practices in the organization’s competitive marketplace.

Why Now?
In the past decade, a variety of concurrent and other forces have driven additional focus on measuring the impact of Diversity and Inclusion programs and interventions including measuring the financial contribution and ROI. These forces continue to challenge old ways of defining an intervention’s or program’s success.

Diversity Intervention Failures
Almost every organization encounters unsuccessful Diversity interventions and programs – interventions and programs that go astray, costing far too much and failing to deliver on promises. Project disasters also occur in other parts of business organizations as well as in government and nonprofit organizations. Many critics of these projects suggest these failures could have been avoided if 1) the project is based upon a legitimate need stemming from a comprehensive business and performance needs analysis from the beginning, 2) adequate planning is in place at the outset, 3) data is collected throughout the project to confirm that the implementation is on track, and 4) an impact study is conducted to detail the project’s contribution. Unfortunately, these steps are unintentionally omitted, not fully understood, or purposely ignored; thus, greater emphasis is being placed on the process of accountability.

Shifting to Evidence-Based, “Science-based” and Outcome-based Diversity Management Approaches
It is critical for our profession (Diversity and Inclusion) to begin immediately moving to fact-based or evidence-based Diversity management and measurement. This means applying Diversity and Inclusion measurement sciences as a “performance improvement technology”, not merely a cobbling of diversity programs and interventions focused solely or primarily on talent management and pipeline challenges. Evidence-based Diversity management proceeds from the premise that using better, deeper logic, facts and prescriptive and predictive analytic methods to the extent organizations and their employees are able to drive business outcomes and objectives is a much more effective and efficient approach. This allows the organization to strategically utilize scarce resources. It is based on the belief that organizations must face the hard facts about what works and what does not work, and reject poorly designed and non-evidence based Diversity and Inclusion initiatives that often pass for sound advice and solutions. This will help organizations perform better in the long run. This move to fact and “Diversity ROI Sciences-based®” approaches supports the expansion to a comprehensive set of success analytics and measures, including financial ROI, and leads to better organizational decisions regarding methods to drive business performance outcomes.

Executive Appetite for Diversity ROI (DROI®) Value
Providing monetary contribution and Diversity ROI (DROI®) reporting is receiving increasing interest in the executive suite. Top managers who watch budgets continue to grow without specific accountability measures are frustrated, and they are responding to the situation by requiring functions to show their value and worth. They are beginning to demand ROI calculations and monetary contributions from departments and functions that previously were not required to produce them, especially given the current economy. As a consequence, in some subtle and not-so-subtle ways, Diversity departments that do not show their value are experiencing:

  • Budget cuts out-of-line with cuts made in other department
  • Whole positions or talent resources being eliminated or transferred to other departments
  • CDO reporting relationships changed to report into the Human Resources function instead of a direct line relationship to the CEO, President, Board or as a member of the C-Suite
  • Access to key influential people and resources diminished due to poor internal brand image and lack of credibility in the results delivered
  • Perceptions of Diversity and Inclusion as not really essential to core business drivers, operational processes and market needs

For years, these function and department heads had convinced executives that their processes could not be measured and their activities should be taken on faith. Well…the era of “faith-based” Diversity interventions is over and has been for some time. Executives no longer buy that argument; they are demanding the same accountability from these functions as they do from sales and production areas of the organization. These major forces are requiring organizations to shift their measurement process to include the financial impact and ROI. When Diversity and Inclusion organizations incorporate these Diversity ROI (DROI®) processes and strategies as a standard part of their practice and performance outcome delivery, they are viewed as truly credible strategic business partners. As a result, Diversity intervention outcomes are valued as core to the organization’s business and its success! Let me know what you think at edhub@aol.com.

* “DROI®” and “Diversity ROI Sciences-based®” are registered trademarks of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc., All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Ed Hubbard is the President & CEO of Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc., and recognized as Personal Success Coach and Mentor as well as the Founder of the Diversity Measurement and Diversity ROI Analytics fields. Dr. Hubbard is an expert in Organizational Behavior, Organizational Analysis, Applied Performance Improvement and Measurement Strategies, Strategic Planning, Diversity Measurement, and Organizational and Individual 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 Ohio State University and earned a Ph.D. with Honors in Business Administration.

For more information about the Hubbard Diversity ROI Institute, log onto http://www.hubbardnhubbardinc.com/certification-workshps.html

“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!