EDI Metrics for Membership Organisations
What are the benefits of EDI Metrics?
The management quote 'what gets measured, gets done' is particularly relevant to the implementation of equality, diversity and inclusion.
In a membership organisation, EDI metrics help establish a baseline from which the organisation can plan and develop an appropriate strategy and actions to support its members.
EDI metrics can be used to assess levels of engagement, identify poor practices or other areas of risk, determine appropriate initiatives, e.g. around outreach, set targets or establish goals.
They encourage a more objective and rational approach to EDI. Metrics help the organisation measure the effectiveness of their EDI activities and the financial return on investment due to EDI programmes or initiatives.
Used appropriately, EDI metrics engage stakeholders, improve leadership commitment and push for change. Member trust, contentment and loyalty are enhanced by metrics that demonstrate equity and fairness, and an organisation's brand, image and reputation in the marketplace are strengthened.
How can your organisation use EDI metrics effectively?
A good starting point is to consider the following:
1. Clarify why you want members to share their personal data
People are naturally suspicious of requests to share their personal data unless they can see good reasons for disclosing their information.
Be clear on what benefits the organisation or members will gain from sharing their data.
Questions to consider
- Are you trying to assess whether the existing membership represents your industry?
- Is your intention to increase diversity in your industry long term?
- Do you want to identify and attract members who aren't engaging with your organisation?
- Are you concerned about the organisation's image and whether you are seen as 'relevant' or
inclusive enough to attract members from diverse backgrounds now and in the future?
- Do you want to address issues faced by groups in your industry, e.g. accessibility for disabled
members or the lack of progression experienced by members from diverse backgrounds?
- Are you looking to provide bespoke services targeted at members from particular groups?
Global membership organisations
If your members are based in different countries, what are you trying to achieve in those countries?
- What EDI metrics are other organisations in the country using?
- What groups do they focus on?
- How do they use the data?
- What actions could you take in each country that would be relevant to members? How will you get your message across in each country?
2. Publish a statement
When you have decided your purpose, produce a statement outlining your aims in asking for the information before asking members to share their personal data with you.
Ask people to share their personal data, as it tends to produce a better response than asking people to provide their data, which sounds like a command!
3. Use benchmarking to support your purpose
Where information is available (e.g. in the medical field), benchmark with other similar organisations. For example, if you are a Royal Medical College or Faculty, what EDI metrics are the other Colleges or Faculties collecting?
How are similar organisations using EDI metrics, and what have they achieved by doing so?
The latest census figures, which look at the industries where people work, may help if nothing else is available. The results from England and Wales will be studied by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). ONS plans to release the census' preliminary findings in March 2022 for this year (2021).
It is possible to review the statistics for 2020 on the website today.
4. GDPR obligations and confidentiality
Under GDPR legislation, if you collect personal data, you must state what you are collecting, why you are collecting it and how you will use the information.
You must explain how the data is stored and how you will keep the information confidential.
Do you have a suitable database or CRM for storing personal data? If not, it will limit the amount of data you can manage, which impacts how much data you can collect
Remember, GDPR only applies in Europe.
Check what data protection laws are applicable in the other countries you serve?
5. What to collect and where to start
In considering what EDI metrics are relevant, it is worth thinking about what people observe when they engage with your organisation.
What messages are members and potential members receiving about the organisation?
It can be helpful to look internally at your organisation first and collect data on
- your existing staff, managers, board members or trustees
- your committee members and chairs
- speakers, presenters, trainers or panel members representing your organisation at external
events attended by your members.
How representative of your membership is the external face of your organisation? For example:
- Are your committee chairs all white, all middle-aged or predominately male?
- How many speakers at conferences are from minority ethnic groups or are women?
One of the recognised ways of overcoming unconscious bias is to hire 'examplars' from diverse backgrounds to present at events. There is usually more than one expert who can deliver on a topic.
6. Give a consistent message
Ensure that the people who represent your organisation agree publicly, at least, with what you're trying to do. For example, if a committee chair tells members that s/he is opposed to sharing their personal data, it will undermine what you're trying to achieve (and is likely to be widely shared!)
If you are trying to increase the diversity of the membership or your industry, make sure the people holding key positions in the organisation walk the talk and understand why it is important. You may need to provide them with the business case for implementing EDI.
7. The path of least resistance
When asking members to share their personal data, in general, people are more willing to share their gender and age, which could be your starting point.
Asking about ethnicity, religion, or sexuality usually requires a more detailed explanation of the purpose, and it's a good idea to reinforce the confidentiality message.
When asking about disability, organisations have found they get more accurate figures if they ask if members are experiencing particular conditions (which are listed) rather than asking, are you disabled?
8. Consider other metrics
You may want to consider other metrics in addition to protected characteristics that are relevant to your organisation. For example, asking members about caring responsibilities may identify that members need meetings to be conducted online or in the evening to encourage greater participation.
Some organisations collect data on socio-economic status intending to improve the opportunities for people from less privileged backgrounds to join their profession.
9. Take small steps
Your organisation may only be starting to gather personal data, or you might feel like you are not doing enough when comparing your organisation with others.
Trying to do everything at once is unlikely to work and may discourage participation when you make another attempt.
Taking small steps and building up your data gradually tends to be more effective long term.