Make sure you avoid these 4 common mistakes when measuring racial equity

When it comes to DE&I strategies, accurate measurement is key.

Without the right metrics, you can’t know what problems to tackle or the right corrective actions to take. You won’t even know if your racial equity strategy is working, or not.

That being said, knowing what you need to measure to build a clear racial equity picture isn’t always easy. And this is where many organisations trip up in their efforts to improve racial equity in the workplace.

Didn’t get it right first time? What matters is that you and your organisation keep on trying. Read on to find out where you might be going wrong with your racial equity strategy — and what you can do to improve it.

4 common pitfalls to avoid when measuring racial equity — and how to avoid them

There are four key reasons why a racial equity strategy isn’t producing the results you’d like to see.

1. Racial diversity is only meaningful alongside retention metrics

68% of organisations focus on racial diversity as a key metric to measure the effectiveness of their racial equity strategy, however diversity metrics only give you a snapshot of where your organisation currently stands in terms of representation. Yes, it is an important measurement, but it is only meaningful if marginalised groups stay with your organisation over time.

How many ethnic minorities join your organisation? And, crucially, how many choose to stay for a significant period of time?

Having a diverse workforce doesn’t necessarily mean that your employees aren’t experiencing racial bias, and the negative impacts on their wellbeing and productivity as a result. You need to take a holistic look at racial equity across your organisation including racial awareness, racist behaviours, inclusion-barriers and retention to form an accurate picture of your progress towards real change.

2. Qualitative output from focus groups is difficult to analyse over time

Qualitative output from focus groups helps you to build up a rich picture of racial equity within your organisation. But this type of data is not without its challenges.

How do you turn this really useful information into data you can quantify and track over time? How do you know when and where progress is being made?

Companies also see their racial equity strategy slow down because this kind of research is rarely repeated at set intervals. You need to regularly collect qualitative data from your employees to track what’s working and what isn’t for your anti-racism action plan.

Another challenge with this type of research is that is not inclusive of all employees across an organisation. Only a selection of individuals can participate and that can lead to a lack of resonance and accountability across the rest of your organisation.

3. Ethnicity pay gaps are susceptible to manipulation and are not standardised

It’s possible that your ethnicity pay gap reports are unreliable. There’s no standard system of reporting yet, so it’s difficult to compare your organisation to others within your industry.

It’s also easy to manipulate data into the form you wish it to take.

The CIPD recommends that organisations include median ethnicity pay gap, mean ethnicity pay gap, median bonus gap, mean bonus gap, bonus proportions and quartile pay bands as part of their ethnicity pay gap reports. But not all organisations are meeting these guidelines.

Without reliable ethnicity pay gap data, you can’t truly understand the scope of the problem and the solutions available. You need complete transparency if you want to drive accountability.

For everything you need to know on Ethnicity pay gap reporting, read our easy-to-follow guide.

4. Inclusion surveys don’t go into sufficient depth about racial inequity

Inclusion surveys are a great place to start when it comes to DE&I. But, as their name suggests, they measure inclusion across the board; they don’t specifically measure racial equity in the workplace.

This means they can’t provide the in-depth insight you need to really work out what drives racial inequity within your organisation and to create a comprehensive anti-racism action plan.

You need to ask the right questions to find the right solutions.

How to effectively measure racial equity

FLAIR has teamed up with leading social scientists to understand what metrics can most effectively measure racial equity to understand the extent to which your culture is free from racial bias and provide the truest indicator of racial equity.

Working with over 100 customers, including EY, Premiere League, Hogan Lovells and BT, FLAIR helps organisations advance racial equity with the following four key measures.

Racial Inclusion

Is race a barrier to employees feeling included?

By measuring racial inclusion you get to see how ethnic minorities feel about your workplace culture — and how they are supported to succeed within it.

All employees should feel confident being themselves. And they should be treated fairly, with equal access to resources and opportunities.

Racial Awareness

Can employees identify and challenge racism? Do they feel comfortable talking about race and diversity?

All employees, regardless of their race, should have an understanding of how racism exists within an organisation, and how they can contribute to racial equity in the workplace.

Racist Behaviour

Are employees witnessing and being subjected to racism?

This doesn’t just mean overtly racist language or behaviour. It also covers the micro-aggressions that ethnic minorities often experience in the workplace. For example, asking a Black colleague if you can touch their hair or asserting that everyone can succeed in society if they work hard enough.

You need to know where and how often racist behaviour is occurring in your workplace.

Racial Diversity

How ethnically diverse is the workforce?

This measure tells you what proportion of ethnic minorities you currently have working at your organisation. It also reveals your racial equity performance at a micro level. You get to see the ratio of ethnic minorities within leadership roles, for example, or in a particular department.

This helps you to pinpoint key areas for improvement.

Measuring racial equity with FLAIR

When you partner with FLAIR, you collect racial equity data via an annual anonymous survey, with results presented in an intuitive dashboard.

We highlight your strengths — along with tailored areas for improvement — based on all the key racial equity metrics.

With reliable racial equity data, you have the insight you need to create a successful anti-racism action plan and the tools to measure that success over time.

For more actionable advice when building a racial equity strategy, download our free report Racial Equity in the Workplace 2022 today.

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