The Rights CoLab report, “What is DEI? Market Signals of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” analyzes the reporting metrics used by 21 influential organizations to reveal both common core understandings of DEI and significant differences in how DEI is conceptualized, measured, and managed. It seeks to provide a firm foundation for a productive discussion on what metrics we use to measure performance in this important area in order to achieve delivery on these goals. Click here for the key findings and access to the full report. 

Rights CoLab is partnering with other organizations leading on DEI to develop opportunities for these conversations. This resource page gathers together the video and summaries from these events.

 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

“IDIF Fireside Chat”

Joanne Bauer, Sharlene Brown, and Rashika Choudhary on how race shows up in the mapped metrics
Discussion moderated by Samantha Katz, IDiF Board Member and Co-Founder

 

On October 12, 2022, IDIF hosted an online Fireside Chat for its community leaders featuring the DEI Mapping Report. The event shone a spotlight on one specific theme of the report: how race is showing up in the metrics. During the session, we encouraged participants to share views on whether the metrics accurately reflect what we want to see for race and ethnicity DEI goals. To home in on this issue, we created new visualizations, which do not appear in the report, of the mapping findings on race/ethnicity metrics. 

The presence of metrics that reference marginalized groups other than race in racial equity frameworks points to a means of capturing intersectionality in workforce data.

The prevalence of race/ethnicity metrics in U.S. frameworks as compared to global frameworks. Commentators suggest that there is less of a focus on race outside of the United States, an assertion that is borne out in the metrics.

The distribution of race/ethnicity metrics across 12 topics and subtopics: all frameworks. 

Following a presentation of the report, author Joanne Bauer engaged Sharlene Brown, Croatan Institute Senior Fellow, Director of the Institute’s initiative on Racial Equity, Economics, Finance, and Sustainability (REEFS), and co-author of Capital at a Crossroads, in an exchange about the emergence of racial equity lens in investing and the place of race in DEI performance assessments.

Brown began by noting that historically there’s always been an effort to try to focus on DEI and that the practitioner community is now actively questioning whether it has been prioritized.  The Rights CoLab report corroborates what Brown and her colleagues have been seeing:  that from 2020 onwards, there was a marked shift in attention to race.  What we are seeing now is “early stage work,”  but the private secctor focus on race feels significantly stronger, according to Brown. 

When asked where she sees the gaps in the mapping report, Brown responded that “the accountability piece is crucial.”  The fact that we are not seeing more accountability metrics at the management and board level is problematic, and “tied to the way we do business in the world.”  For the past two decades the U.S. has become a  majority-minority country, and this means “we need to think very differently about how we invest in people.”  If companies do not recognize this, they risk losing out in global competiting.  According to Brown, “We need to see this as a moment to invest in communities that we have historically ignored.  In the U.S. we have a huge opportunity ahead of us to lean into the changes that are coming and to make sure the investments are made so that companies can compete in a global landscape. Not doing so is reckless. “

Bauer then asked Brown about a finding of the research that class and social mobility rarely appear in the metrics. Brown agreed that this is signficiant. She applauded the growing focus within the DEI community on diversity of asset managers, but cautioned that this conversation sometimes eludes a critical issue of  the wealth and income gap. According to Brown, we need to ask “How do we lift the broader masses and bring greater equity for communities?”  We are just at the starting point in reflecting the answer to this question in the metrics. Bauer remarked that for the private sector, the answer may lie in recruitment practices that shift the bias away from the elite univiersities and commit to loan repayment programs and on-the-job training.  

Bauer turned to Rashika Choudhary, a researcher for the project, for her reflections on the mapping, particularly as a younger person facing the job market. Choudhary remarked that there is a noticeable emphasis on diversity metrics, and that DEI goals need to address the cultural changes that are underpinned and result from inclusion and equity. These metrics are weakly represented and need greater attention.

Word cloud of the 429 metrics mapped

 

Moderated Q&A:

Why did you choose “Race/Ethnicity” as a category for the Mapping Report? 

We created categories that mirror the language present in the metrics themselves. Therefore, where the metrics refer to “race,” “ethicity,” or “race/ethnicity” we do, too.  The purpose of the report is to reflect the state of the DEI field today, so we did our best to record as accurately as possible how DEI is defined by the metrics. 

How would you like to see DEI goals evolve? 

The present focus on quantitative diversity metrics does a poor job of capturing the cultural issues in a workplace that lead to discrimination. According to Choudhary, “Everyone should benefit from DEI, or else it goes against the nature of ‘inclusivity.’”  Other gaps, as noted in the key findings section of the report, is that the metrics don’t do a very good job of capturaling intersectionality.  And as noted above, we need to consider how to bring a focus on class and social inclusion into our DEI goals.  

Why do you believe there are no metrics on migrants or immigrants, especially considering the intersection of internal DEI progress and supply chain issues? Do you foresee any progress in this area specifically?

By identifying this gap, we hope this report will shine a light on this overlooked aspect of DEI. The oversight may stem from the fact that DEI tends to be seen as relating only to a company’s direct workforce, whereas labor issues in the supply chain are considered human rights matters.  This is a false dichotomy.  Discrimination sits at the core of abuses within the supply chain, and migrants are among the most vulnerable in any given society.  A DEI lens on supply chain issues can shed light on those most at risk and is important to identifying, preventing, and addressing harms to the people who toil deep in a company’s supply chain and for the company iteself. Similarly, discriminatory treatment within the direct workforce is fundamentally a human rights issues, and should be understood as such.

We see a DEI framework that is not mapped. Will Rights CoLab be releasing an update?

This is an evolving topic and the Rights CoLab mapping represents the state of play at a point in time. Although we do not currently have plans to update the mapping, we welcome any tips on what is missing so that we can assess whether the new information changes our findings. To facilitate this, we have prepared a form which can be accessed here.  Any change in our findings will also be noted on this page.

The report lays out our selection criteria, one of which is that it be a framework with publicly available metrics that we can include in our open spreadsheet. Further details on the criteria are provided in Appendix 3, “What is Missing from the Mapping.”

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash