Measuring Progress – Effective DE&I in 2022

Town Hall Insights
Houston CHRO Community

Carlecia Wright

Chief Diversity Officer

Lone Star College System


Christina Jones

VP, HR D&I and Employee Relations

Shell USA


Sue Netherton

SVP, People, Training & Development

Waste Connections


Sally Vardy


Harris County Appraisal District


Diversity, equity and inclusion has been a top priority for Chief Human Resources Officers for years, but the Great Resignation and recent talent shortages have elevated it from being an HR initiative to being recognized as a cornerstone of company culture. As CHROs aim to make meaningful change in DE&I within their organizations, how can they measure progress?

Evanta’s Houston CHRO Community recently came together for a Virtual Town Hall to discuss how they can better implement strategies to measure and track the success of their DE&I efforts. Carlecia Wright, Chief Diversity Officer at Lone Star College System was the moderator for the gathering, and she kicked off the conversation by sharing some tactics she is using to ensure DE&I is measured throughout every area of her business.

Wright shared that although Lone Star College System has been around for decades, they are new to their DE&I journey. To ensure no stone goes unturned, her team is focusing on four key areas: (1) culture, bringing the diversity of Houston to each campus, (2) learning, creating learning competencies for leadership, faculty, support staff and students, alike, (3) recruitment, adjusting each area of the employee lifecycle, (4) policies and practices, evaluating potential systemic barriers in the organization.

We took all of the practices and systems we had in place, and we looked for an opportunity where we could be more inclusive and equitable versus creating all new diversity metrics.”


Members of the CHRO community broke into small groups to discuss how they are addressing this within their own organizations. Here are four key takeaways: 

  1. How to Navigate the Leadership Imperative

The CHROs in attendance were in agreement that DE&I initiatives must start at the top, and leadership engagement is critical to embedding it across the organization. However, they also noted that this can be challenging, especially if a CEO or members of the C-suite are not particularly passionate about DE&I.

In response, one leader mentioned, “Show the value. Research has shown that diverse organizations are more successful, competitive, profitable, and people like to work there.” Another expressed the importance of collaborating across the aisle, adding, “You want to make sure your approach brings together as many stakeholders as possible.”

  1. Ingrain DE&I into your Current Organizational Culture

Before human resources leaders start their DE&I journey, one CHRO noted, “First, you must clearly define diversity at your organization.” She stated that diversity will vary pending the company’s size, location(s), industries, and other factors. Once there is a thorough understanding of the current company makeup and where improvements need to be made, CHROs can then start to develop their strategies. 

Another attendee cited the importance of building on current organizational culture, as drastically shifting the culture may prevent some from embracing the change. She noted, “Work within the culture of your organization, and the language they’re comfortable using.” She said that there are different ways about going about DE&I and she gave an example of how to adjust language to fit cultural norms. She explained how her company is modifying their language on an important topic, “They’re not comfortable talking about unconscious bias, so they talk about conscious inclusion.”

Another human resources leader agreed with this, and shared how they are altering the language at her company. They no longer provide “DE&I training,” but instead they have updated their trainings to make DE&I a natural part of the business. By adding it into their management training, providing “empathy training,” and advertising it as “professional development,” they have removed some of the barriers to buy-in.

Although language may be adjusted, the CHROs acknowledged that transparency about their inclusion and belonging efforts should be present. Some organizations are even providing public access to inclusion indexes and dashboards to show the progress they have made on their journey.

  1. Leverage Existing Metrics 

As with organizational culture, the CHROs discussed how leveraging existing metrics can also improve engagement. One human resources leader expressed how sharing disaggregated data with leadership was particularly telling, and it increased leadership participation.

CHROs were in agreement that the employee life cycle is a key area to analyze, and they should be looking at every process from hiring to onboarding to recruitment and promotions. Some are embarking on creative strategies to take a deeper look into the promotional paths of women and diverse employees to executive level positions, and that the data spoke volumes.

To acquire more data, another HR leader shared how they have adapted their annual employee survey to ensure they gather their thoughts on DE&I, rather than sending multiple surveys. She stated that this process has increased the number of responses to evaluate.

  1. Utilize Employee Resource Groups

Many of the CHROs in attendance noted how ERGs have been impactful to their DE&I goals, both in improving the employee experience and also in helping to increase leadership’s awareness and engagement in this space. One human resources leader shared how her CEO meets regularly with their ERGs to not only understand their sentiment, but he also asks them specifically for actions they want to see in the workplace.

Another CHRO indicated how ERGs help organizations keep a pulse on the perspective of diverse employees, and she described how they, too, are driving action. At her organization, both the black and Hispanic ERGs released reports with a call to action to leadership as it related to their specific needs.

Continue the Conversation

Evanta’s Houston CHRO Community will be continuing this conversation in-person at the Houston CHRO Executive Summit on December 7th. Find your local Evanta CHRO Community to connect with C-level executives from the world's leading organizations and discuss the most critical issues impacting CHROs today, such as diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Evanta is hosting virtual gatherings, Inner-Circle Dinners and Executive Summits in our local communities across North America, Europe and Australia this fall. See when your community will be meeting next, and reserve your spot here.


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