Companies must approach DEI with the same level of strategic thinking, resourcing, and accountability as any other business priority. As the Gender Diversity KPI Alliance states, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and that what you measure tends to be improved. This is just as true for DEI as for any financial measure that corporations track. It is important to measure the right things; measurement focuses on monitoring results, not effort. The number of DEI policies is not a key metric. Rather, the value is in whether actual progress is made.”
Support DEI with funding, metrics, strategies, and accountability
Create DEI data infrastructure to equip teams and leaders with data to make informed decisions, define strategy, and track progress.
Set internal goals for increasing numbers of people from underrepresented groups and track implementation success (best practice requires goal setting at entry-level, mid-career, and leadership levels).
Create incentives for C-suite leaders, managers, and others to achieve the goals.
Direct a Pay Equity Audits for underrepresented groups, starting with gender and race, to close gaps.
50:50 THE EQUALITY PROJECT AT THE BBC — GOAL-SETTING AT THE ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL1
In 2016, BBC presenter Ros Atkins set a goal of equal representation of women and men on his nightly news program. At the end of each show, the production team would take two minutes to count and record the gender split of guests. Each month, they reported their numbers. In January 2017, the first month of counting, women made up 39% of contributors on Atkins’ show. Three months later, they made up 51%.
Atkins spread the idea to other shows and content teams across the BBC that were interested in gender parity. His method aligned with the EAST theory of behavior change —that to stick, change should be Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.
Easy: The 50:50 team shared specific instructions, guidelines, measurement templates, and checklists with all participating programs to provide as much support as possible. Atkins worked with colleagues to create a list of women experts on various topics.
Attractive: The project remained voluntary, and participating teams were praised for signing up. Atkins appealed to people’s interests by emphasizing that 50:50 would increase the quality and popularity of their shows. Team data was shared across the company to promote accountability, recognize success, and encourage competition.
Social: Atkins scaled 50:50 by targeting influential core programs that would encourage others. He spread the word that teams were doing well, which helped turn gender parity in content into a new social norm. People were made to feel that they were part of something bigger than themselves.
Timely: The goal of equal gender representation was tied to a monthly reporting time frame, and included a daily tally to maintain motivation. Moreover, Atkins started the project after the BBC experienced two scandals around gender pay equity, which made it more relevant. The Director-General of the BBC announced a company-wide 50:50 participation challenge, creating another timed goal.
By 2019, more than half of participating teams—and 74% of those monitoring data for at least 12 months—had hit their 50:50 goal. In a survey, audiences noticed more women on BBC programs. And the number of participating teams has continued to rise.
50:50 The Equality Project
The full case study can be found in Bohnet, I. & Chilazi, S. (2020). Goals and Targets for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A High Leverage Point to Advance Gender Equality in the U.S. Tech Industry. Harvard Kennedy School.
- Bohnet, I. & Chilazi, S. (2020). “Goals and Targets for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: A High Leverage Point to Advance Gender Equality in the U.S. Tech Industry.” Harvard Kennedy School. https://wappp.hks.harvard.edu/files/wappp/files/dei_goals_in_us_tech_bohnet_chilazi.pdf.
Goals provide both the will and the way to make progress. The BBC set a goal of equal representation of women and men on a nightly news program. Three months later, they achieved it by tracking progress and making the change Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.
UBER OPERATIONAL TARGETS
With the assistance of its internal people analytics partners, Uber built a sophisticated operational dashboard to identify representation targets for Director+ leaders with teams of 100 people or more. To address historical disparities at the company, these targets focus on increasing the representation of women globally and underrepresented racial groups (URP) in the U.S., in total and at more senior levels. Targets were initially established based on Uber’s 2020 data, the relevant labor pool, and algorithmically included hiring, attrition and promotion metrics to help leaders understand how they could increase the representation of women and URP. The dashboard allows leaders to see how the targets were set, and to leverage different variables to determine ways to achieve their goals. DEI and HR partners helped train the leaders on the dashboard and how to achieve their targets responsibly.
Relatedly, Uber launched a formal DEI strategic planning process to create a more consistent approach, keeping leadership accountable and aligning the people teams. Each leader now has a specific DEI strategic plan that includes factors like how to build an inclusive working environment and hire and retain women and URP. These plans work in concert with the operational targets, giving leaders a more comprehensive approach to advancing DEI. They share their progress and setbacks in group meetings where they can learn from each other. And because business leaders and managers own their own DEI strategic plans, there is overarching accountability across the organization, signaling a company-wide commitment to these issues.
The inaugural year showed improvement in every target category year-to-date, with a 1-4% increase in representation in comparison to year end 2020. In addition to the effective dashboard and strategic approach, a key reason for the program’s success is that Uber’s CEO and executive leadership are deeply and personally committed to advancing DEI, and are held accountable for making progress.
Encouraging leaders to take ownership of DEI goals by counting, comparing and tracking progress is a promising strategy to increase DEI. Uber introduced a formal DEI strategic planning process for each leader, built a sophisticated operational dashboard to identify representation targets and trained leaders on how to achieve their targets responsibly.
PAY EQUITY AT MICRON TECHNOLOGY
Micron Technology is a computer memory and data storage company headquartered in Idaho, with approximately 40,000 employees globally.
When Sanjay Mehrotra joined Micron as President and CEO in 2017, he committed to making diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) a business imperative. Late that year, an in-house study intended to identify and address pay disparities between men and women found instances in which team members’ pay disparities could not be explained by performance or other justifiable factors. In response, Micron remediated the pay of those team members who had been earning relatively less than their peers in comparable jobs with similar performance and based in the same location. By late in 2018, Micron had attained global gender pay equity for base pay.
In 2020, Micron launched six DEI commitments, including a renewed commitment to equitable pay for all team members. Using a data science and artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Syndio to evaluate team member compensation and recommend ways to eliminate pay gaps, Micron expanded its global pay-gap analysis to include potential disparities in cash bonuses and stock awards. The company also added team members with disabilities to its global analysis and, in the United States, veterans and Black and Latinx/Hispanic team members.
Through these concerted efforts, Micron achieved comprehensive global pay equity in base pay, bonus, and stock awards among these underrepresented groups in March 2021. In full transparency, the company shared its entire pay-equity methodology with team members and with its Board of Directors, as well as externally in its DEI Annual Report. Micron also includes specific pay-equity-related metrics in its bonus plan.
Micron’s success in achieving global pay equity is proof of what’s possible when DEI is firmly embedded into business strategy.
Conducting an audit to identify potential disparities in pay is essential in understanding existing inequities between groups and closing those gaps. Achieving global pay equity requires a holistic approach, an ongoing commitment and a commitment to transparency.