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8 HR metrics every HR leader should monitor for greater gender diversity in the workplace

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The global pandemic could set women back half a decade when it comes to gender equity in the workplace.

That’s according to McKinsey’s Women in the workplace report.

Effectively, that’s an entire generation of working women who could see little to no shift in gender equity.

Astounding, right?

Driving diversity and inclusion should always be a priority, but since the pandemic, it’s highlighted huge gaps unlike ones we’ve ever seen before.

It means organisations need to shift gears on their diversity and inclusion initiatives.

They need to get to grips with understanding how fair their workplace is – not only in the case of gender but for age, race, neurodiversity and so much more – so everyone is given the positive workforce experiences that they deserve.

However, HR and People teams firstly need to know where they fall short and where they should be prioritising their initiatives within their own organisations.

The best way to do that is through data.

In this article, we take a look at where women are in their journey to an equitable workplace, and which metrics are vital for building one.

Here’s what we cover:

Women in the workplace today

Why metrics in HR?

8 metrics for HR leaders to track

Gaining value from People analytics for diversity and inclusion

The representation of women in corporate America show incremental increases towards gender parity, which is welcome news.

In fact, the representation of women in senior vice-president positions and in the C-suite grew from 23% to 28%, and 17% to 21% respectively between January 2015 and January 2020.

However, with just one in four senior VPs being women, and one in five women are in the C-suite, women are still grossly outnumbered in comparison to their male counterparts.

That’s not even taking into account the setback women could experience in the workplace due to the pandemic – potentially as much as 50 years.

Despite clear evidence company profits and share performance can be almost 50% higher with improved female representation at senior level, these numbers remain low.

But it’s far from just being about the bottom line – it’s the right thing to do.

Women in senior roles positively impact an organisation’s culture, paving the way for other women in the organisation to do the same.

For a thorough and accurate understanding of gender diversity in your workforce, you need data. You can’t rely on guesswork, assumptions or anecdotal feedback.

So, the big question is, which data do you use?

Firstly, what you really need is a metric. Organisations are notorious for collecting large datasets that can provide all the answers.

But the metric helps you find the answers you’re looking for within a sea of numbers.

Once you’ve found it, you can make positive steps towards remedying any gaps – in this case, gender disparity – to make sure you’re offering the employee experiences you want to give and ones your people deserve.

You can also then look back and reflect across set time periods and even introduce key performance indicators (KPIs) to make sure you’re hitting the goals you’ve set for your organisation.

Here’s eight metrics that provide HR leaders with a clearer picture of the workforce and where you can focus your efforts to allow you to act upon your findings.

1. Female to male ratio

Just 49% of women participate in the current global labour force, compared of 75% of men, according to the International Labour Organisation.

At a basic level, knowing how many female and male employees you have in your organisation gives you a starting point.

You can also compare your statistic to your relevant business industry, to see how your organisation compares to the benchmark. From this overall ratio, you can analyse the gender ratio in specific business areas, or specific job roles.

Once you understand the numbers, you can dig into why this is the case.

For example, if you find there isn’t enough training and development for employees to move into certain job roles, you can then put new training in place to enable employees to move into these roles.

2. Seniority levels

Analysis by CNNMoney found that just 5% of the CEO jobs are held by women. It’s clear the glass ceiling still exists – and this statistic just shows hard it is still to break through it.

You may have a good overall female to male ratio, but find a significant gender disparity in leadership, for example. So, looking at seniority is the first step to understanding what barriers exist and how you can remove them.

HR and People leaders can use the data from the gender seniority ratio to inform strategies, such as for recruitment and career progression.

3. Gender wage gap

Along with female representation, the gender wage gap has been at the core of gender diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

In the UK, HMRC reported a £5,400 pay gap in the median average earnings of men and women annually.

Taking an economic view, closing the gender wage gap could halve the poverty rate of working women and add $512.6bn (£362bn) of income to the US economy alone.

Income ratios and equal pay audits can provide HR and People leaders with the data they need. But the gender wage gap KPI relies on actioning those insights and taking steps to close the gap.

4. Turnover and retention

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average turnover of 44.3% across all industries.

The top three reasons for leaving a job have been cited as insufficient career advancement opportunities, low pay and lack of a pay rise.

Looking at the gender breakdown of your organisation’s turnover and retention data can be useful in determining the average duration in a position of men and women.

Understanding their reasons for leaving and setting KPIs to support in areas identified as causes of turnover can help improve retention of valuable employees in future.

5. Recruitment and career progression

The ratio of women to men being promoted and hired to a manager position is 5:8, according to McKinsey.

This is even lower for black women.

HR and People leaders should be regularly reviewing recruitment strategies to address their organisation’s gender breakdown of applicants for all roles, both internally and externally.

This could include processes, the wording of messaging and the places where roles are advertised.

6. Absenteeism

Health insurer Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace study estimates that illness absences and presenteeism cost the UK economy £91.9bn in 2019.

But do you know how much it costs your organisation today?

Measuring the absenteeism rate gives an indication of the organisation’s wellbeing. HR and People leaders can calculate the rate from employee absence data but it’s the results that provide the insight.

If you can spot trends between genders, you need to look at why. This could suggest an underlying issue, such as lack of flexibility or employee dissatisfaction.

7. Work-life balance

Encouraging a healthy work-life balance should be a priority, regardless of gender.

One of the key best practices for achieving gender diversity is to facilitate work-life balance.

For both men and women, this could include flexible working on a day-to-day basis, such as flexi-hours, as well as supporting career flexibility as a whole, such as with extended maternity and paternity leave.

While it’s harder to track work-life balance as a metric, you can look into some of these individual schemes you have to encourage work-life balance and understand if they’re being taken up or not to build up a picture of work-life balance in your workplace.

Alternatively, creating an employee survey about work-life balance could give you additional insights and allow you to ask the questions you need answers to.

8. Employee satisfaction

Arguably the most important question of them all is this: how happy are your employees?

Job satisfaction is a primary metric for organisations, often using eNPS (employee net promoter score) or ESI (employee satisfaction index).

Gaining these insights can highlight potential gender disparity and enable HR leaders to find ways to boost employee satisfaction.

The employee satisfaction data and monitoring this over time can be used to adjust HR strategies or implement further processes, to redress the balance of gender inequality and provide further support.

With the gender gap potentially getting bigger – not smaller – in workplaces as a result of the pandemic, organisations need to step up their game to drive diversity and inclusion forward.

Using real-time data and analysis of workforce metrics enables HR and People leaders to take fast action where opportunities are identified, allowing for flexibility in making the change and planning for the future.

Powerful analytics tools and data dashboards can help to develop tailored HR strategies to create a more balanced, diverse and inclusive organisation, with increased employee happiness and enhanced business performance notable outcomes.

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