3 Proven Steps for Keeping DEI Goals on Track

Diverse group of coworkers laugh together at the office

3 Proven Steps for Keeping DEI Goals on Track

Corporate responsibility for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has taken center stage in public discourse this past year — and for good reason. Many companies are still failing to go beyond statement-making to implement the structural changes necessary for real impact.

Research shows the pandemic has exacerbated inequality at work exponentially. In December 2020, at the height of the pandemic, 100% of jobs lost belonged to women. Meanwhile, 91% of working mothers report being passed up for a promotion this year. And a quarter of working women are now considering downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce altogether.

With so much work to do to improve DEI, it can be hard knowing where to start. And while talent teams aren’t the only ones responsible for driving change in an organization, it does fall on recruiters and HR to lead the charge when diversifying the talent pipeline and reducing unconscious bias in hiring.

To help talent take a data-driven approach to tackling these critical steps, we recently hosted a panel discussion with DEI experts from Hiretual, Fiix Software,, and Maxwell. Here are the panel’s top three tips for using your talent data to make a difference.

Our moderator and speakers:

  • Amy Sherman, Head of Customer Success, Hiretual
  • Dean Delpeache, Director, Talent & Diversity, Fiix Software
  • Chuka Ikokwu, Founder, Divercity
  • Sydney Artt, Head of Talent Acquisition, Maxwell

Want to watch the full webinar? Check it out here: 3 Tips to Address Growing Work Inequality with Data Intelligence

1) Communicate your DEI plan and philosophy

It may sound simple, but all of our panelists agree: Getting executive buy-in is the first and most important step you can take, even before communicating your DEI plan. Without that solid foundation, you won’t be able to make much headway with your DEI goals.

“Before you even get to communication, you have to ensure you have key stakeholders as part of the conversation,” says Dean Delpeache. “Those key stakeholders may represent leadership, your CEO, and a member of your board, to really galvanize what your plan should look like. This can’t be a plan around this being a nice thing to do. You need to make it a business imperative.”

For Sydney Artt, regular check-ins with Maxwell’s executive team provides accountability for tracking organization-wide goals. The company also has a diversity task force, made up of members from each department, who are responsible for driving initiatives within their teams.

When it’s time to communicate your plan, our panelists recommend the following:

  • Create a step-by-step plan that includes senior leadership, managers, and individual contributors.
  • Start at the beginning of the employee lifecycle with communicating your DEI plan and carry the conversation through each stage (hiring, onboarding, and retention).
  • Constantly evaluate. Be proactive with these discussions and identify groups that haven’t been considered in your DEI plan.

Looking for more in-depth advice to getting started with DEI? Check out our Diversity & Inclusion Handbook.

2) Check data as it relates to your hiring process

Talent data is critical for staying on track when it comes to DEI goals. Yet 49% of talent pros say a lack of data tools and insight into employee and talent demographics makes it difficult to implement strategies. So how should you go about finding those insights that you need?

“If you leave it to chance, it is very hard to build a diverse team,” says Chuka Ikokwu. “I know it’s hard to get people to opt in as far as gender and ethnicity goals, because historically, those things can be used to discriminate against applicants. But it’s a two-way street. There has to be a change of mind on the hiring side. We use AI to help companies break down [their data]. But then what do you do about it? You have to go to other services, tap into those networks. It has to be specific so specific action can be taken.”

Using the right parameters to view Maxwell’s talent data helps Sydney and her team identify gaps. Diversity on an engineering team will look very different than on a marketing team. She also recommends looking at comp and role leveling from market data, so you can make sure all recruiters and hiring managers are aware what the role level is to avoid upleveling the role.

When it’s time to use data to guide your goals, our panelists recommend the following:

  • Don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, look at things role by role, pipeline stage by pipeline stage, etc.
  • Do look at the diversity within the current team to identify gaps and how to bridge them.
  • Review data across the job posting, interview process, and onboarding experience (e.g. time in each stage, where drop off is happening, and feedback forms). 

Lever makes DEI reporting easy with dashboards built specifically for recruiters.
See them in action in our recorded webinar, How to Track and Measure Existing Hiring Bias with Lever.

3) Continuously measure goals to keep the conversation going

DEI is by no means a “set it and forget it” initiative. It requires ongoing monitoring and management, especially when it comes to building up your talent pipeline. Transparent data can help you align your DEI hiring goals from the very start and make ongoing reporting easier.

“Without having an internal focus on belonging and inclusion, it’s simply going to be a rotating door of diverse groups,” says Sydney. “If you don’t have a focus on retaining and growing that talent, you’re going to lose them… As far as tracking, we have internal promotions. We have various career paths that aren’t based on tenure, or nepotism being allowed. We make sure each level has measurable, actionable, attainable goals. Because of these goals, we’ve rewarded people for their efforts by upleveling them in months, instead of a year.”

For Fiix Software, having a diversity communication strategy keeps everyone informed on initiatives and progress. Dean recommends choosing a dedicated channel — such as Slack, quarterly meetings, or an internal newsletter — where you can share articles, surveys, and events. You can also use this space to share leadership’s point of view.

When it’s time to keep the conversation going, our panelists recommend the following:

  • Use data to align the hiring process with DEI goals every step of the way. Set benchmarks within your platform and be familiar with the market landscape.
  • Make sure you have someone accountable for the DEI strategy, to ensure someone is there to keep pushing initiatives forward.
  • Survey the company on a regular cadence to see how leadership and employees feel the company is doing with DEI.

Final thoughts: Using talent data to direct DEI efforts

If there’s one thing our discussion emphasized, it’s that you cannot leave DEI up to chance. It takes a concerted effort, with executive buy-in, and deliberate reporting on a regular basis to guide your organization’s DEI initiatives to success.

To hear more from this expert panel on their experiences using data to achieve DEI progress, check the on-demand webinar: 3 Tips to Address Growing Work Inequality with Data Intelligence.