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Key takeaways:

  • DEI Board members Jason Clark at Charles Schwab and Jackie Hardt at M&T Bank shared personal experiences in gaining leadership buy-in for DEI reporting.
  • Reporting on demographic data in your organization can help measure the progress your initiatives are making and areas of opportunity for your company to address.
  • Understanding your company’s data can lead to positive changes in behaviors and culture to foster better diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) reporting can be a golden opportunity to tell a compelling story for your organization and how your efforts are moving the needle.

Prioritizing data collection on demographics within your organization can highlight how your initiatives are advancing DEI and establishing cultures of inclusion enterprise-wide.

Events over recent years have added pressure to companies to report on workforce demographic data. This includes the federally mandated annual EEO-1 report, which requires companies with 100 or more employees to report data on gender, race, and ethnicity. DEI leaders are now looking to implement initiatives to improve DEI reporting.

During a DEI Board panel discussion on collecting data to advance your strategies, senior leaders provided insights on why they believe DEI reporting is critical to move the needle and their shared experiences in implementing data collection.

Cultivating Buy-In Across Your Organization

You can’t rely on just your DEI team to highlight the value of reporting. It’s critical that senior leadership teams and all stakeholders understand the importance of collecting data to further advance your goals.

DEI Board Chair Jason Clark, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Charles Schwab, shared his experience gaining leadership buy-in throughout his career.

We have to measure things to see if we’re making progress or to see where the opportunities are. When I compare things to their own bottom line or to the business priorities, I think that’s an easier case.

Jason Clark, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Charles Schwab

He explained how it helps to inform executives that what gets measured gets improved.

“I think that when people typically see that when they’re doing their own measures for their own organization or for their own priorities, they’re looking at data to make informed decisions,” Jason said.

At Charles Schwab, Jason explained how their executives understand the importance of DEI reporting and how he feels fortunate to not have to educate decision makers.

“We have to measure things to see if we’re making progress or to see where the opportunities are,” Jason added. “When I compare things to their own bottom line or to the business priorities, I think that’s an easier case.”

As a public company, he shared how they’re obligated to report on specific metrics like race, gender, and ethnicity, which is a helpful step in explaining the importance of collecting data. But he noted how when senior leaders are more involved, it helps to report on metrics that go beyond compliance.

Consistency and Accountability Are Essential for DEI Reporting

DEI Board member Jackie Hardt, Senior DEI Analytics Manager at M&T Bank, shared some of the steps her company has taken to get leadership teams more involved. She shared how consistency helped create buy-in across the organization.

“One thing that has been really effective for us is that we consistently go with the same information,” Jackie said. “We scheduled meetings about what we’re going to talk about and if we’re going to share it. We’re lucky that we have support from our most senior leaders, but I think what we’ve done in terms of getting buy-in is working with our partners.”

When it comes to getting initial buy-in to prioritize DEI metrics, using data for annual performance reviews can also help move the needle. Jackie explained how creating incentives around annual performance objectives is a key step in creating buy-in.

“We’ve incorporated metrics into our leaders’ annual performance objectives,” Jackie said. “Some of the DEI metrics that we’re tracking are part of their year-end evaluation objectives.”

DEI Reporting Can Help Cultivate Changes in Behaviors

Jackie shared how there’s a distinction between internal and external reporting. She noted how they’ve had success working with organizations to benchmark their external metrics. But when it comes to internal reporting, she shared how there are more challenges.

Jackie asked the following specific questions to help progress the internal buy-in for reporting:

  • What information do organizations want to share?
  • Which metrics will help move the needle and show the importance of reporting?

“What we’re looking for is not changes in our data,” Jackie said. “What we want is changes in behavior. We want changes in our culture and we’re trying to find outcomes that are going to help us account for what culture is changing our practices, and if our employees’ experiences are changing.”

We want changes in our culture and we’re trying to find outcomes that are going to help us account for what culture is changing our practices, and if our employees’ experiences are changing.

Jackie Hardt, Senior DEI Analytics Manager at M&T Bank

She explained how it’s difficult to measure if attitudes, behaviors, and unconscious biases are changing because of reporting. But she noted how measuring employees’ experiences can help shed light on progress.

“Are people staying at the organization longer?” Jackie asked. “Are they moving up through the organization at equal rates? Are we seeing employee experience scores? Do we see gaps across race, ethnicity, gender, or disability status? Reporting is essential because it tells us if our programs, our efforts, and our work at changing attitudes and behaviors is working.”

Transparency with DEI Reporting Creates Accountability

Jason explained how owning up to your organization’s DEI data and transparency about successes and opportunities can create accountability across your enterprise.

“It’s also about owning your truth as a company through the data and steering the narrative,” he said.

Part of owning that truth is realizing how potential employees can gauge your DEI data through your existing reporting and come to conclusions on their own about your efforts.

“Anytime you get to get in front of that and share the data, whether that’s qualitative or quantitative, or even articulating some of the things that you’re doing to combat the data that doesn’t speak well, I think it’s the opportunity to steer the narrative in the right direction,” Jason said.

Collaboration Helps Showcase the Importance of DEI Reporting

At Charles Schwab, Jason explained how business lines drive their strategies and how collaborating with leaders in those business areas is essential.

“If I can get a leader from a business line advocating for data, versus just me advocating for data, it’s more likely to happen because that’s just the cultural norm,” Jason said.

He shared how Charles Schwab has data guidelines where they require at least 300 people in a business line to get a DEI report. In the case where there aren’t 300 people, Jason said a C-suite leader can advocate for a report.

Support from Employee Resource Groups Is Essential

Along with executive sponsorship, employee resource groups (ERGs) help advocate for DEI reporting. Jason shared an instance where he wanted to expand demographic categories that were tracked. He noted how veteran status, sexual orientation, and gender identities were not being reported and people in those categories expressed a desire to report on those metrics.

“We heard from the ERG leadership and the people that represented those demographics say, ‘We want to see if we’re making progress with our communities, please help us do that,’” Jason said. “I think that was another way to go about it, by getting buy-in from the people that it impacts the most.”

Working Directly with Senior Leaders Helps Address Challenges

At M&T Bank, Jackie shared how her team meets with executives quarterly to discuss their metrics and their progress on DEI. She explained how they go in-depth on what kind of story their data tells, how it impacts their business, which challenges executives are facing, and how they’re addressing those challenges.

Her team then provides insights on how their partnership can advance their goals, how they can work with managers to implement strategies, and tools senior leaders can use for particular business lines.

“It’s more about, how do we leverage our skills and our expertise within our team to help them,” Jackie said. “It’s never, ‘You go figure that out on your own.’”

Partnering with your executive teams is a key step to ensuring accountability throughout your organization. It’s important that everyone across the organization is involved and understands the role the DEI reporting plays in making your company as inclusive as possible.

“It’s not just us,” Jackie said. “It’s a bank-wide conversation. I think we get buy-in by having our senior team hold each other accountable.”

Learn How DEI Leaders Are Securing More Buy-In for Reporting

While reporting on DEI strategies is a nuanced and complex topic, it’s vital to show how those initiatives move the needle and advance diversity, equity inclusion in your organization.

For DEI leaders who are looking to further advance their DEI reporting initiatives, they don’t have to do it alone. Jason Clark and Jackie Hardt have a network of support in the DEI Board where senior leaders continually share best practices and benchmark their strategies with a group of their trusted peers.

If you lead diversity, equity, and inclusion at a large enterprise, you can apply to learn more on how DEI leaders are securing more buy-in for reporting.

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