What is the Value Proposition for Diversity Benchmarking? by Pamela McElvane


After collecting data for more than 10 years trying to determine a metric or two,  I asked myself, “What is the value of the service we are providing here at DiversityMBA, and, more importantly, who gives a hoot and why? “ I will tell you there are so many organizations today claiming to rank the best in class, or the best to worst at whatever you can think of. Sometimes, I think it’s a necessary evil that publications do so they can keep the revenue coming. In reality, there are a few of us that do it for real or that it is strategic to our organizations mission. I’m not, as they say, dissing anyone, but I do caution our corporate partners to know exactly what they are getting from these organizations they share their proprietary information with.

DiversityMBA began looking at how women and people of color in management were faring in corporate America more than a decade ago. We focused for five years on African- American talent, and spent the past six years assessing all diversity to move toward more inclusive data and information. My vision as CEO was and still is to provide marketplace metrics that will inform corporate America how it is doing in developing talent with the existing programs it invests in internally; to get to the outcomes of women and people of color in its leadership ranks. I’m glad to report we have come a long way and we can absolutely measure the effectiveness of the programs the best companies have to develop their talent and move into the senior level roles. We also know the gaps and what needs are developing within organizations as well.

Our benchmarking survey focuses on how companies recruit talent, retain people, programs that develop people, and accountability of the management team. We also look at how programs engage people and what the impact of participation is. We want to know the structure and commitment of diversity areas, and finally want to know the outcome in who is leading the organization from top down. With that said, we are able to provide metrics that organizations use to determine how they are doing in the marketplace against competitors within their industries or just leaders in the business community.

Now that you know what DiversityMBA provides, why do organizations need or want to have this information or any other, for that matter? Well, first let me say that all Fortune 500 companies do not benchmark against the marketplace in leadership. Most, if not all, definitely have mechanisms and methods by which they know exactly what s going on in their industry. However, general benchmarking does provide another level of insight that can be useful. It is a business imperative that companies make the right decision with the right information to ensure they are hiring the right people. Marketplace benching not only provides these insights but can validate for companies that they are on the right track or that they need to make some adjustments. Best Business Practices have always been a part of the manufacturing industry, and quality of work continues to be at the forefront. So it only makes good business sense for companies to benchmark against and amongst each other.

Diversity benchmarking is a bit different in that everyone has not completely embraced what is necessary to create inclusive environments. It is indeed hard work; our top company, Accenture, can attest to that. And not only is it hard work to get to the top, but to stay at the top and sustain this work is even harder, as our newly named Hall of Famer, Kaiser Permanente, can confirm. These companies get, and got it a long time ago. Inclusion is about ensuring everyone has a fair shot at the table and is heard and supported every day. Companies that make our 50 Out Front list understand that, as well as companies that participate in our survey; they get it, too. We had more than 200 Fortune 1000 companies participating; that means something.  Companies are seeking opportunities to be better so they can do better; understanding that diversity of thought, culture and experience is the winning combination.

What is the value proposition? Customize your own and get out of it what you put into it.   If you want to compare diversity solutions to the marketplace, DiversityMBA is one solution to put your organization onto the right track.  Join us in celebrating our 50 Out Front Companies for the Best Places for Diverse Managers to Work.

Pam McElvane
CEO & Publisher
Diversity MBA