Best Practices

Building D&I Accountability

April 2020

D&I goals are only realized when key decision-makers are accountable. Change and commitment must start from the top, cascading throughout the organization.

By taking accountability for goals, leaders signal the importance of diversity and inclusion as a business priority and help focus people’s attention.

This report provides information on how to set measurable, realistic D&I goals and best practices examples.

D&I Accountability Starts at the Top

D&I goals are only realized when key decision-makers are accountable. Change and commitment must start from the top, cascading throughout the organization. By taking accountability for goals, leaders signal the importance of diversity and inclusion as a business priority and help focus people’s attention.

Set meaningful and realistic diversity goals. For example, what percentage of diverse talent is needed in the pipeline to create a difference in the next three to five years. When developing such goals, understand what talent pools are available by business region and how goals may vary across different locations.

Establish accountability for progress. D&I efforts should be measured with the same scrutiny that other business objectives receive, and include a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures to help track progress and inform improvements.

Quantitative measures might include statistical data related to recruitment tactics, candidate applications, hiring decisions, retention outcomes, provision of training, and advancement opportunities provided to women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. It is important to assess this information carefully to identify any patterns by lines of business or region. For example, are women advancing at a significantly lower rate in one region over another?

Qualitative measures can come from employee ‘pulse’ surveys, annual engagement surveys, and focus groups can. These types of data sources provide important feedback on employee perceptions of inclusion, equity, and bias, and
can be utilized to measure progress over time. Make sure to assess qualitative data by demographic group to understand how responses vary by race, gender, generation, etc. Instead of lumping all people of color or all underrepresented groups together, compare the responses of the various subgroups represented within these categories. For example, how do the engagement survey responses from your Black employees differ from those of your Latino or Asian employees? And going even further, tease out areas of intersectionality. Are Black women more or less engaged than Black men?

Set Measurable, Realistic D&I Goals

Consider the following organizational assessment questions before establishing D&I goals:
• How often do we review the talent sets of underrepresented employees in our internal pipeline? What percentage of these employees are getting visibility, new job experiences, and stretch assignments? Who has access to opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship?
• Are women and other underrepresented talent being promoted at the same rates as the majority? What employees are getting visibility, new job experiences, and stretch assignments? Who has access to opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship? How much are women and employees of color paid in comparison to men and white counterparts in similar positions?
• What are we doing to identify, develop and support high potential diverse talent? Do women and employees of color have equal access to the right channels that will help them know how to get ahead? Are they aware of career paths and roles open to them, and how they should be preparing to advance?
• Are there targeted employee development plans in place to put women and employees of color on the path to advancement? How are those plans measured in terms of progress, timeliness, mobility and advancement?
• Do we know what factors in our organization prevent underrepresented employee groups from reaching their full potential? Are we auditing for bias at every step of the talent development and advancement process?
• Do our succession plans include measurable targets for women and diverse populations? Do leaders know what roles yield the highest promotable successors? If not, how will we determine success?
• Are leaders held accountable for performance related to the advancement of women and minorities in the workforce?

The answers to these important questions will help inform your D&I goals and how you will measure progress and hold leaders, managers, and other key personnel accountable for results.

Danger of Lack of D&I Accountability

A proposal delivered by Google shareholders and backed by Google employees calls for the board of its parent company, Alphabet, to address issues related to gender and racial diversity, and tying these metrics to executive

The shareholder resolution states the lack of diversity in tech is a “crisis” that “threatens worker safety, talent retention, product development, and customer service.” The resolution also notes Google employees are not satisfied with the company’s response to a series of concerns raised in the past year, including ending forced arbitration and adding a worker representative to its board.

“We believe executives are out to lunch on several key social risks facing the company,” Pat Tomaino, Director of Socially Responsible Investing for Zevin Asset Management, a Google shareholder, told Bloomberg. Last year, Zevin and others introduced a similar shareholder proposal backed by Google employees that would tie diversity metrics to performance. Alphabet rejected the proposal.

The most recent resolution claims Alphabet “has not responded adequately to key demands” made by workers in a massive walkout in November, such as adding a worker representative to its board and ending forced arbitration for its entire workforce. It also asks the board’s compensation committee to look into including “sustainability metrics”—such as executive diversity— into its bonus system or stock vesting protocols.

Embed D&I Goals in Recruitment

Here are a few metrics companies use to build D&I accountability in recruitment:
• Diversity of talent pools
• Number of prospects from partnerships (colleges, associations, etc.)
• Number of referrals or candidates as a result of diversity recruitment programs broken out by dimension of diversity
• Number of applicants from additional efforts including social media, job boards and recruitment events
• Percentage of diverse candidates at each recruiting stage
• Percentage of conversions by diverse demographic
• Recruitment firms’ fulfillment of diverse candidate slates

Hiring managers and recruiters are held accountable for meeting metrics, however, targets may vary based on their geographic location or local workforce demographics and diversity goals.

To monitor the success of the diversity recruitment process, companies will need to track new hires on an on-going basis: to what extent women and diverse applicants are represented in the applicant pool, how many make it through the interview process and get hired, and what type of positions they are hired into.

Metrics don’t end there—companies should also track retention and promotion rates across workforce demographics to identify ‘leaks’ in the internal pipeline.

Hiring Metrics

Sample metrics to build hiring manager accountability:
• Information about candidate ratios, hiring and non-hire ratios
• Outcomes for gender, racial, age and other patterns and disparities
• Conversion rates for diverse groups compared to other candidate pools
• Data cut by lines of business to identify trends and patterns
• Attrition rates and retention rates of new hires and the timing of the attrition

Tip: Train recruiters and hiring managers in unconscious bias. Most individuals don’t think of themselves as biased. However, unconscious biases are hard-wired into human nature and overcoming them can be challenging. Provide
recruiters and hiring personnel unconscious bias training to create self-awareness around any preconceived biases that they may be bringing to the process and help them strategize around how to mitigate them. Consider asking recruiters
and hiring personnel to take an implicit association test to check for and raise awareness about hidden racial and gender biases.

Link D&I Goals to Hiring Practices

One of the simplest and most effective ways to increase diversity hiring is to require that diverse candidate slates that include a proportionate number of both women and diverse candidates are presented for interviewing. Diverse
candidate slates can minimize discrimination and unconscious bias in hiring, promotion, and job assignments.

Typically, diverse slates indicate a mix of job candidates that align with established diversity targets. This doesn’t mean the company has to disclose department-by-department diversity targets. It is sufficient to require broad diversity targets – i.e. 30% of candidates should be from minority populations or 40% of candidates should be women. These targets will move over time as the company realizes its diversity goals and should be assessed and adjusted accordingly.

Suggested Strategies:

Spend time to explain your goals for a position to recruiters and hiring managers, and how those goals link to the organization’s overall business objectives. This will help assure that all parties involved in the hiring process will consider the company’s current demographic profile and diversity representation goals. Your point for improvement should always be visible in the candidate funnel.

Develop guidance and provide training to reinforce policies and practices, and hold recruiters and hiring managers accountable for adhering to those policies and practices. For example, a hiring target might be established around finding one qualified female candidate for every two qualified male candidates.

If the targets aren’t met, require a suitable explanation why.

Danger of Lack of D&I Accountability

What is the right ratio for diverse candidate slates?

Research by Harvard Business Review found that when the final candidate pool has only one minority candidate, he or she has virtually no chances of being hired. If there are at least two female candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a female candidate are 79 times greater. If there are least two minority candidates in the final candidate pool, the odds of hiring a minority candidate are 194 times greater. This methodology is referred to as the “two in the pool effect.” The challenge is that there is no “one size fits all” on this. Definitions of diversity vary from organization to organization and person to person, but most often diverse interview slates refer to a pool of candidates that contains a certain number or percentage of women and/or minorities.

Here’s a Few Examples:

Goldman Sachs requires two diverse candidates be part of the slate for all open roles, and encourages leaders to consider progress against diversity goals
when evaluating Senior Managers for pay and promotion. Diverse candidate slates will be key to achieving the bank’s diversity targets, which include achieving 50 percent women, 11% Black, and 14% Hispanic hires in its 2021 class of incoming Analysts and Associates, which comprise 70% of the company’s annual hiring.

Lincoln Financial introduced a balanced slate process which requires hiring managers to include at least one woman and one person of color on each
officer-level candidate slate. A woman of color does not count for both.

The diversity scorecard at Sodexo holds recruiters and hiring managers accountable by reporting hiring performance compared to diversity targets each
quarter in three diversity areas: hiring, promotion and retention. After a brief delay, in partnership with recruiters, Sodexo surveys top women and diverse applicants who drop out of the recruiting process and who reject offers in order to find out why.

At GlaxoSmithKline, VPs in R&D established a diversity hiring protocol to review all hiring decisions with hiring managers to ensure unconscious bias was
not at play, particularly if diverse candidates were presented and not hired.

Link D&I to Retention

There are a number of metrics that can be established to assess diversity and inclusion in the workforce. These metrics should be sliced by as many dimensions of diversity that are available to best understand the experience of different
employee groups.

Below are a few metrics companies use to understand diversity and inclusion shortfalls and areas for improvement:
• Attrition rates
• Promotion rates
• Internal mobility rates
• Stay Interview data
• Tenure rates/length of stay
• % of professionals development plans, completion rates of development plans, and velocity rates of completion (how long to fully execute plans)
• Employee referral rates/Employee Net Promoter scores (would they refer/advocate for the org)
• Turnover costs (ensure that the dollar impact of diversity turnover is credibly calculated, work with finance to help determine the best way to measure). Understanding turnover costs will help support a stronger business case to
support retention efforts.

Avoid Common Pitfalls

Merely having data is not enough to deliver meaningful changes that create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Here are the five common data mistakes CDOs must avoid.
• Measuring diversity as a blanket number. Comparing your organization with the industry by tracking Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other data is a good place to start, but this doesn’t always reveal the root causes of issues hampering progress. A better analysis, for example, would look at how the proportion of females changes across leadership levels, so you can zone in on the biggest problems, such as hiring or retention issues.
• Prioritizing reports over insights. Compliance reports filled with general quota numbers aren’t useful for decision-making. To start, these reports are generally only seen by the person generating them and the agency they’re being reported to. When data can be accessed in a way that facilitates exploration (without the need for a data science degree!), it can help organizations understand where to focus their talent efforts to achieve broader goals.
• Forgetting to look at post-hire data. How new hires from specific groups fare in the long term reveals important insights about recruitment practices. When all pre-hire and post-hire data systems are connected into one analytics platform, an organization can quickly—and regularly—analyze the performance of diverse employees and keep an eye on promotions they received (as well as when in their tenure they achieved these). These insights can help businesses identify high-quality employees who come from a variety of backgrounds.
• Not delving into the “why” of turnover problems. Retaining diverse talent is just as critical as hiring diverse talent. It’s important to not just measure turnover in certain groups but also uncover the why of the turnover problem. People from certain backgrounds may choose to leave the organization if they don’t feel welcome, but it also could just be a matter of job descriptions not meeting reality.

Remember, it is important to not only measure new hire retention and long-term retention of diverse employees but also dive into the data to understand why these people are leaving.

Infuse D&I in Succession Planning

Diverse teams are built through a well-formulated and actionable succession planning process that continually identifies high potential talent, and then sets them on a deliberate course toward leadership roles.
• Start by assessing your organization’s demographic and age profile to identify when employees in mission critical positions will retire, and better understand what knowledge and skills will be lost.
• Establish baselines and set targets for increasing diversity in those roles. Set goals. To achieve diversity, even at the highest levels, there must be reasonable but aggressive goals on changing workforce demographics, e.g. at least 30
percent of succession slates are diverse.
• Identify high-performing professionals early in their careers and start them on the leadership path as soon as possible. Many companies will consider the top 10% of talent when developing a succession plan. To cast your net wider, consider the top 10% of diverse candidates as well.
• Create diverse talent development plans. Identify what experiences and development opportunities will be needed to advance high potential talent to middle and senior management roles. Monitor and measure progress, outcomes, and the time it takes to execute plans to ensure parity.
• Dedicate roles and responsibilities. Hold someone responsible for achieving succession planning goals.
• Make sure your succession plan includes specific metrics and timelines to track progress and ensure goals are met.

What is your company doing to prepare diverse talent and succession pipelines? Do you have succession plans targeted to diverse populations? Or set percentage goals? If not, how will you move the needle, and what will determine success?

Setting Your D&I Goals

Simple measures are unlikely to achieve what is intended. For instance, often touted as a simple, quick ‘fix’ is to tie executives’ bonuses to hiring more women and minority talents. Some incentivize their recruiters and employees to bring in more diverse candidates. While this carries appeal as a way to show that the organization is ‘serious’ about diversity, it can nevertheless backfire. It can seduce people to hire for bonus rather than for skill, experience, and ability.

Such an approach can set minority talents up for failure by reinforcing stereotypes
and bias. Also problematic with D&I goals is that simply bringing in more people who are ‘different’ does not create an inclusive organization that is set to leverage the uniqueness of these new employees. Hiring to meet the diversity numbers doesn’t address root causes of biased decision making, processes that limit rather than widen the talent pool, and a culture that isn’t open to difference.

Meaningful metrics must be focused at the specific challenges an organization is
facing and should show a turn-around of a trend that is of concern. This could be
aspects like differences in engagement scores based on personal demographics, or a higher share of attrition or lower promotion rates of women and minority talents.

Metrics to Consider

• Hiring, retention, promotion, lateral mobility numbers
• Velocity of movement (how long it takes to hire, promote or move laterally)
• Percentage of development, succession and talent plans that include underrepresented groups
• Velocity of development plan completion (how long does it take to implement plans)
• Percentage of sponsorship, mentorship program participants who are from underrepresented groups
• Number of sponsorees, mentees with positive movement as a result of program
• Engagement and D&I index scores per leader
• Percent of the talent pipeline that is diverse
• Number of ERG active members, active allies
• ERG ROI impact (e.g. #Recruits, # referral conversions, $ sales, market development, community giving, supplier diversity support, retention impact (turnover reduction))
• Employee engagement scores or survey results parsed by race, gender and other underrepresented categories


Description: Tracking promotions awarded to individuals from monitored groups compared with promotions awarded to individuals who are not members of a monitored group.

Strength: Useful for identifying bias in assessment and selection.

Weakness: Does not indicate whether members of monitored groups are self-selecting out of promotion opportunities. For example, studies have shown that women are less likely than men to put their hand up for a promotion. Also, does not track whether members of monitored groups are being developed or promoted at the same rate as non-monitored individuals.

Improvements: Track promotion applications from members of monitored groups compared with promotion applications from individuals who are not members of a monitored group. Track the time it takes for members of monitored groups to progress compared with non-monitored individuals. A difference may be indicative of a performance vs. potential bias that favors members of the dominant group. Track and compare development opportunities offered to members of monitored groups and compare with development opportunities offered to individuals who are not members of a monitored group.


Description: Tracking lateral moves, appointments to acting roles, training and other learning and development participation, and other stretch assignment opportunities by identity group.

Strength: Useful for identifying bias in development.

Pay and Benefits

Description: Compare financial and non-financial rewards earned by individuals from monitored groups to financial and non-financial rewards earned by individuals who are not members of a monitored group.

Strength: Useful for identifying bias in compensation and reward schemes.
Weakness: Like-for-like pay equality (equal pay for an equal role) obscures inequality in opportunity.

Improvements: Analyze pay and rewards across rank and function. For example, do men, on average, earn more at your organization (or department or workgroup) than women earn, over average? If the answer is yes, there is a bias against women in your organization, even if on a role-for-role basis, women earn the same as men.

Employee Engagement

Description: Compare employee engagement scores for individuals from monitored groups with scores reported by individuals who are not members of a monitored group.

Strength: Useful for identifying whether certain groups of employees are experiencing lower levels of satisfaction and engagement compared with others. A noticeable difference in engagement scores among different identity groups can be indicative of biased mindsets and practices that favor one group of employees over others.

Weakness: Existing engagement surveys may not include specific questions relating to diversity and inclusion. Also, existing surveys may not record diversity dimensions, and so comparisons across identity groups are not possible.

Further, disengaged employees may not complete the survey, skewing the results.
Improvement: Solicit voluntarily disclose by respondents of identity, such as race, culture, sexual orientation, gender, age, parental status. Supplement existing survey items with questions that specifically tap diversity and inclusion concerns. These questions may be incorporated into existing engagement surveys or constitute a separate ‘Inclusion Survey’ or ‘Inclusion Index’. For example;
• “Employees are valued for their differences and their unique contributions.”
• “Employees can voice their opinions without fear of retribution or rejection.”
• “People are rewarded fairly according to their job performance and accomplishments.”
• “I have confidence in my company’s grievance procedures.”

Establish Accountability for Results

D&I goals are only realized when key decision-makers are accountable. Change and commitment must start from the top, cascading throughout the

By taking accountability for goals, leaders signal the importance of diversity and inclusion as a business priority and help focus people’s attention.

Although D&I has become a top priority in many companies, few successfully link D&I outcomes to executive pay and compensation.

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