Episode 288: DEI Metrics and Benchmarking

Diversity, equity and inclusion are not new ideas in the HR and corporate arenas, but in recent months the importance and significance of DEI in the workplace has taken center stage. For those of us in HR, this means we’re not taking our DEI initiatives to stakeholders – they’re coming to us looking for answers and we have to be able to create a narrative around these initiatives. In order to do so, we need data and DEI metrics are the data points that indicate gaps or progress based on DEI goals.

Episode 288: DEI Metrics and Benchmarking With Gerri Allamby of @Unilever

I spoke to Gerri Allamby, Associate Compliance and Diversity Manager with Unilever USA. Gerri works with Unilever’s D&I and Recruitment teams in helping to move the D&I agenda through EEO Compliance. Gerri has spent her career producing relevant metrics and analytics to help organizations track their D&I strategies and initiatives for reaching their AAP/diversity and inclusion goals. Prior to joining Unilever, Gerri was Senior EEO/AA Associate at KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms and before that was Global D&I Analyst on the Global Diversity and Inclusion team at Johnson & Johnson.

Gerri has spent more than 15 years working in the diversity and inclusion space specifically around metrics and analytics. I asked what led her to this work. “No one ever wakes up and says that they want to be an HR analytics person. What led me to this work was a pivot table. I was temping at Johnson & Johnson in its global D&I office and someone asked me to produce some metrics and asked if I knew how to do a pivot table. I said yes, and that set me on the path to where I am now. Keep in mind that 15 years ago, there wasn’t the robust interest in HR data that there is now.”

There have been a lot of really good discussions in the HR space about allyship and workplace culture. I asked Gerri what we can do – as fellow employees, as human beings, as allies – to amplify someone else’s voice. “For me, the first thing I do is listen to what’s being shared with me. It takes a lot of courage for someone to share their story and listening lets the other person know that it’s a safe space. Second, I have to be aware of the fact that I’m not going to understand or know everything about anyone’s experience. My experience may be completely different than someone else’s. It’s the definition of diversity: different perspectives, different experiences. I have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable with what may be shared with me. As an ally I have to take responsibility as I am aware of someone else’s experiences, being able to be supportive by raising my own voice to other people and educating them. I take that responsibility very seriously, professionally and personally.”

“It takes a lot of courage for someone to share their story and listening lets the other person know that it’s a safe space.” - Gerri Allamby, @Unilever #WorkologyPodcast #DEIMetrics Click To Tweet

How Do We Quantify DEI? 

There’s no quick answer to this question, but Gerri has a unique perspective based on her vast experience working with DEI data and metrics. “One of my best bosses from one of my past lives said ‘What gets measured gets done.’ and I’ve taken that to heart. Organizations need to know where they currently are before they can decide where they want to go. And where they are sometimes may not be a good place; this is where the ‘being comfortable with being uncomfortable’ comes in. While DEI is the ‘right’ thing to do, presenting a business case for DEI is smart, and sometimes leaders/leadership don’t get that. In my opinion, you can’t figure out where you want to go unless you know where you are, and accept that where you are might not be a good place.”

“One of my best bosses from one of my past lives said ‘What gets measured gets done’ and I’ve taken that to heart.” - Gerri Allamby, @Unilever #WorkologyPodcast #DEIMetrics Click To Tweet

“That’s the struggle with people who are DEI practitioners and EEO practitioners. We know what the reality of the organization is; we need to make sure that leadership understands the reality of where the organization is. A good way to get leadership on board with DEI, it’s the right thing to do but sometimes there is a struggle with leadership to get them to commit, is tying executive compensation to DEI goal attainment. DEI needs to be a top-down approach. Leadership needs to be on board with it so that it cascades down. Going back to what gets measured gets done: tracking your representation, hires, promotions and voluntary terms by race, ethnicity and gender, and tying that to executive compensation is the best way to quantify it.”

“#DEI needs to be a top-down approach. Leadership needs to be on board with it so that it cascades down.” - Gerri Allamby, @Unilever #WorkologyPodcast #DEIMetrics Click To Tweet

I asked Gerri where those of us working for smaller or midsize companies should start to begin to collect and parse data around DEI. “Going back to knowing where you are in order to decide where you need to go. The best place to do that is an employee survey that revolves around asking employees to identify (voluntarily) race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, veteran status, etc. In my past lives, I did the employee survey around annual benefits enrollment time so that employees understood that when you’re enrolling in your benefits, it’s also a good time to see what your profile looks like in our benefits system. We’d have the CEO send an email about annual benefits and remind employees to update their profiles in our HRIS. That’s a great start.”

The question to ask company leaders, said Gerri, is: “Diverse consumers have money to spend, wouldn’t we as an organization want some stake in that? If an executive can’t be motivated because it’s the right thing to do, talk about how it hits their pocket.”

We want to be able to measure our DEI efforts, but many of us aren’t sure where to start. Partnering with company leaders to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization is a good practice, as we need leadership to be on board in order to make a cultural impact. DEI metrics and analytics can help us understand where we are now, where we would like to be, and how large the gap is between those two points. I’m so pleased to have Gerri share her expertise with us!

Listen to the full podcast for so much more, including how Gerri recommends creating analytics scorecards in DEI, why the new SEC guidelines for HR metrics are noteworthy, and how data can help create a diverse and supportive workplace culture. 

Connect with Gerri Allamby.


– Gerri Allamby on LinkedIn

– Unilever Careers Page

– Unilever sets out plans to help build a more equitable and inclusive society

– CHRO Job Description

– Episode 276: The Role of the CHRO and DEI With Michele Lanza

– Episode 285: The Role of the CHRO and DEI With Whitney Bennett

– Episode 286: Ethics and Bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology

– Episode Transcript

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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