In the wake of the race-related global events in 2020, we saw, and continue to see, a rise in DEI roles within organizations. In fact, at the time of writing this, LinkedIn jobs has over 14,000 DEI and DEI-related roles advertised across the United States, and almost 90,000 globally. With the increased interest in and importance of this meaningful work, many L&D professionals have found themselves heavily involved in the development, design and implementation of DEI programming.
I recently contributed to the ATD article “Stumped on how to measure DEI Training?” by Wendy Kirkpatrick and Dr. James D. Kirkpatrick, which addressed the challenges with measuring DEI programming. While DEI is it’s own specific field outside of L&D, when it comes to measuring outcomes, DEI can borrow tools from L&D on how to track transformation around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs.
So, where do we start?
One of the key tenants of the Learning Cluster Design model is to “start with the end in mind.” What we mean by that is that it’s important to identify specific outcomes and changes you hope to see as a result of your programming. With DEI specifically, it’s imperative to move beyond high-level organizational values and instead define what specific systemic and cultural changes that newly developed programs will support, and more specifically, what behavior changes will lead to those outcomes.
Once the behavioral, systemic and cultural changes the DEI programming will support have been identified (which happens in the Learning Cluster Design model ‘Change’ Action) you can then immediately jump to the ‘Track’ Action of the model to clearly define how those changes will be measured. According the authors of the aforementioned article, this is where Kirkpatrick Level 3 comes in:
“Defining and implementing a Level 3 behavior plan is the biggest requirement for organizational DEI success, and it’s traditionally the item companies most frequently overlook in general. What that means is if you want people to do something and have positive, measurable change occur, you need a multifaceted Level 3 plan.
DEI includes complex, sensitive, and longstanding cultural issues. And while programs may not have the power to change what every employee thinks or feels, they can define acceptable behavioral standards and consistent implementation of them.
Critical behaviors are the few, key ones that employees will have to consistently perform on the job to bring about the targeted outcomes. Such behaviors convert abstract concepts like DEI into observable and measurable actions that employers can track, coach, and reward.”
From a Learning Cluster Design perspective, the movement from the Change Action to the Track Action showcases the fluidity of the model as a whole, and just like the model, DEI programming is not linear and will require iteration.Like any program designed to change behavior, we know by now that it can’t be a one and done approach. By identifying Learner Personas and what their role is in impacting the systemic, cultural and behavioral changes outlined in the ‘Change’ Action, L&D and DEI professionals alike can dive even further into how DEI programming will be measured on a persona level.
Let’s look at 3 sample learner personas that you may run into within any organization:
- New to Journey Jamal – This persona is intrigued by DEI, and is interested in learning more about how to create a diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace for their team members and colleagues. They have a strong interest, but don’t know where to start.
- Long-time Champion Charlene – This persona is well versed in DEI initiatives and a champion for programming within the organization. They are looking to expand their knowledge and ability to make an impact immediately, as well as educate others on DEI.
- Resistant Rayna – This persona does not see DEI as a priority for them, and has a sense of uncomfortability around the topic. They understand the importance of it, but are afraid it will change the culture of the organization too much.
When you look at these 3 sample personas, each one would require a different mix – or cluster – of social, formal and immediate learning assets. With different learning assets comes the ability to identify asset-specific terminal objectives, and therefore, more granular forms of measurement.
As Wendy and James note in their article, “some employers are likely feeling great pressure to launch a DEI program quickly, but skipping over defining the outcomes and the Level 3 package will not work for this initiative – or any initiative.”We’d love to hear from you on this topic. How is your organization currently measuring DEI transformation? Where do you see room for improvement?