Are you a fan of jazz music?

Many of my friends and colleagues aren’t very familiar with jazz, so when I talk about how jazz music is like DE&I, I usually get quizzical stares.

Let me explain.

At a rock concert, the band plays a song with each instrument backing up the lead singer. Think the Rolling Stones or Green Day or U2. The lead singer is the center of attention and the rest of the band is responsible for supporting that melody. Sure, there are times when a band member plays a solo, but that’s not routine.

Unlike a rock concert, a jazz group will have one instrument take the lead, and play through the melody. But then the band will cycle through successive repeats of that melody (with some cool improvisation) with each individual instrument taking the lead. This piano as the lead, followed by bass, then horns, then drums, and wrapping up with the piano for a reprise. Each instrument has the opportunity to take the lead, and each musician plays a role in shaping the overall performance.

I bring this up because I used this analogy last week in my presentation to the Inclusive Leadership in a Virtual World (ILVW) group to talk about measuring DE&I in organizations. My point was that it’s not so much what to measure, but where to measure.

The Key Question: Where Do I Measure?

Because of my expertise in analytics and data, I often field questions from clients and colleagues about how best to measure DE&I in order to make a positive impact.

  • Which metrics are the right ones?
  • Which metric is the most important one to be following?
  • How often do I need to track it?
  • When a metric changes, how do I know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

Don’t get me wrong, these are all important questions. But by focusing on the “what” I often see the “where” getting forgotten.

The Best Place Is Everywhere

What do I mean by the “where?” Well, typically measuring DE&I is the responsibility of HR. So it naturally follows that much of what gets measured in terms of DE&I relates to employees.

What if, in addition to that, we took a lead sheet out of The Real Book and instead expected everyone to play a role in DE&I?

  • What if we expected the Purchasing department to be responsible for DE&I, by tracking the numbers from our suppliers?
  • Or if IT were responsible for DE&I in terms of remote/virtual accessibility for employees and for customers?
  • How about if the Marketing group were responsible for tracking and improving DE&I in terms of customer satisfaction?

In other words, what if the expectation about DE&I were that everyone had a role to play? Granted, this is the case in some organizations, but certainly not in all.

Because just like in a jazz band, everyone has a role to play.

Your Turn

What say you, dear reader? Where are you measuring DE&I in your organization? Add a comment below and share your experience with measuring DE&I in your or your clients’ organizations. Or you can or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Not sure how to start looking at your data? Check out my blog post that walks you through how to get started, or download my Data Jumpstart Guide for my 5-Step process. (It’s also available as a private podcast feed if you’d prefer to listen to me talk you through it!)

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