Measuring Progress Towards Equity

Posted by Deb Vaughn, Jun 02, 2016 0 comments

Figuring out where to start measuring progress towards equity can be a daunting task. Honestly, any evaluation can be overwhelming when the need is great, the resources are scarce and every outcome is critically important.

But here’s the thing: without evaluation, you will never know whether you’ve made a difference. If you don’t baseline to know where you started, how will you know that what you’re doing is improving things? For that matter, unless you determine what it is you’re trying to change, how will you even know that the change you’re seeing is an improvement?

It can be scary to see those evaluation targets in print—“By this date we will achieve this goal, as evidenced by these numbers.” Well, now you’re committed. There’s no going back. Maybe instead we should set soft targets with aspirational language: We plan to…we intend to…we want to… Then no one can hold our feet to the fire if we don’t hit the targets.

But here’s the thing: If no one else can hold you accountable, you won’t hold yourself accountable. In this critical work, we can’t afford to let ourselves off the hook.

In April 2016, the BBC Network announced a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy which lays out specific, measurable outcomes and a timeline for achieving them. (+5 bonus points for some darn good data viz too). For an organization that has struggled in the past to meet diversity targets, this is important language.

While it is easy to debate whether the targets are the right ones (Should they be higher? Are they addressing the right kinds of diversity in the right areas of the company?), the model of publishing measurable targets at all is encouraging. Public numbers are keep the BBC accountable for making progress.

Whether the BBC is successful remains to be seen, but what appeals to me in their statement is the active language. “We pledge that by 2020 the BBC will have a workforce at least as diverse, if not more so, than any other in the industry.” Not strive. Not hope. Not aspire. Not encourage. But will.

What will you do today to move towards equity?

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