As organizations consider their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and global outcry regarding racial injustice, many are looking for ways to measure performance and drive accountability. In fact, 74% of companies globally are reporting an increased focus on DEI over the past several months, with 57% of these companies directing the implementation of diversity metrics and programs.


At Mercer, we believe DEI strategies, like any others, should be rooted in data, analytics and proof to measure progress and promote accountability. One way to achieve this is to build dashboards illustrating key DEI metrics. Using these dashboards, you can track how your organization is performing against its goals and objectives, and communicate with your key stakeholders to keep them informed about progress (or lack thereof).


But how can you begin to build an effective DEI dashboard? One way is by answering five key questions, covering who, what, how, when and where.


Who will use your dashboard?

Consider the audience of the dashboard and how they will use the data. This will dictate the metrics to include and the frequency with which dashboards are shared. Building your dashboard for key stakeholders across HR will help you integrate DEI into intersecting HR processes, such as talent acquisition, performance management, workforce planning and succession planning. Providing business leaders with access to these dashboards can enhance awareness of critical gaps and keep leaders accountable for progress. Building a dashboard with the board of directors in mind can help ensure DEI is a top priority and receives sufficient resources and support to succeed. Designing for an external audience will help you share progress transparently and enhance your brand as an employer that prioritizes DEI.


What should your dashboard include?

One of the greatest difficulties with DEI is determining the most useful metrics to help you effectively and accurately measure progress, especially when it comes to intangibles such as “inclusion.” Metrics must align with actionable, tactical goals that feed into your organization’s overarching DEI strategies as they relate to diversity (representation), equity (access to opportunities) and inclusion (a culture of belonging). Here are some metrics to consider:


  • Basic demographics and representation: A metric such as headcount by gender on a global/regional level and race/ethnicity if you have US-based operations, across each function and depA metric such as headcount by gender on a global/regional level and race/ethnicity if you have US-based operations, across each function and department, can help you understand the makeup of your workforce and the largest gaps in representation. Trended workforce data overtime can also help elucidate the trajectory of progress. You might even consider tracking other demographics such as sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability status, and veteran status, or looking at the representation of intersectional groups.

  • Talent flow: Analyzing data, including hiring, promotion and voluntary turnover rates for underrepresented groups as well as performance-rating distribution, can help you identify opportunities for linking DEI to your organization’s people strategy. Mercer’s Internal Labor Market assessment examines the flow of people in, up, and out of organizations and can provide critical insights into your organization’s unique needs and challenges.

  • Inclusion of underrepresented groups in roles that are critical for advancement: You may find, for example, that individuals with people management responsibilities or those who have had international assignments are significantly more likely to become executive leaders. If so, you need to make sure individuals from underrepresented groups receive the necessary development to be eligible for the same opportunities.

  • High-potential employees: Breaking down data on high-potential employees — or highly rated employees, if your organization doesn’t identify high potentials — by demographic group helps you track critical talent for succession planning purposes to ensure all employees are considered for internal opportunities.

  • Pay equity assessments: Investigating these assessments can help you identify and minimize gaps between demographic groups that might pose legal risks for your organization.

  • Engagement survey results: These surveys can provide insight into inclusion and belonging, especially when results are analyzed across demographic groups. Some organizations conduct regular pulse surveys to measure progress and capture real-time feedback.

  • Discrimination claims: You can analyze these claims to identify trends and problem areas in the organization where educational or more drastic interventions may be necessary to prevent the development of a toxic culture. Left unaddressed, such issues could lead to a loss of engagement and productivity, resulting in increased voluntary turnover.

How will you build your dashboard?

Ultimately, a dashboard is only useful if it’s easy to pull together and the data shared are accurate. So ask yourself how you plan to build this helpful reporting tool. What are your organization’s current HRIS capabilities? Are the data clean enough to build dashboards in Tableau, Excel or another platform where they can be easily replicated? Is refreshing the data administratively burdensome? Is it easy to track data over time?     


When should you update your dashboard?

How often should the data be refreshed — monthly, quarterly, biannually? There’s a delicate balance between keeping individuals informed and overwhelming them with data and information. And it may not be useful to share certain metrics too often, as change may take longer than anticipated. A benefit of building your dashboard in your HRIS (such as Workday) means that the data is always real-time accurate whenever it needs to be referenced.


Where will you share your dashboard?

Data included in your dashboard may be considered sensitive, so it’s essential to identify a platform that’s easily accessible but also protected. Note that some HRIS may include dashboard capabilities you can use for these purposes.


Developing dashboards requires the involvement of several stakeholders — such as HRIS data analysts to ensure the right data are used, executive leaders to approve data to be shared, communications teams to determine the best way to share this information and legal advisors to assess the risks associated with sharing it.


Mercer supports many clients with DEI dashboard development in Excel or even directly in clients’ Workday environment. We recently partnered with a global producer of consumer products to develop dashboards for its business unit leaders. With access to DEI data specific to their teams, these leaders were able to develop strategies that target their businesses’ unique needs rather than those of the broader organization. On finding that certain business units had a stronger track record of fostering diverse and inclusive environments, leaders learned from each other’s successes and failures to adopt practices proven to work. We are now collaborating with their HRIS team to integrate dashboards into their Workday platform so data can be updated in real time, allowing business leaders, HR and DEI stakeholders to stay aware of the internal labor dynamics. We are also partnering with their employee engagement team to identify linkages between their engagement survey results and these internal labor dynamics across demographic groups.


As organizations commit to long-term progress, dashboards can be useful tools for measuring improvement and helping your organization work toward its DEI goals, and objectives. Although this may take significant effort and maintenance, the results can be powerful.

MinJi Suh
MinJi Suh
Talent Strategy and DEI Consultant, Mercer

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