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The data-driven DEI revolution with Infinity Systems VP Del Johnson

How Equimetrics® by Infinity Systems is leading the charge in transforming corporate culture through data
Del Johnson (Photo credit: Courtesy of Del Johnson)

In the realm of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), data has become a powerful ally. At the recent DEI summit, Kevin E. Hooks sat down with Del Johnson, Vice President of Infinity Systems, to discuss the pivotal role of data in driving DEI initiatives. Johnson shared insights into how their innovative tool, Equimetrics®, is helping organizations not just gather but effectively utilize DEI data to foster a more inclusive workplace.

The importance of  baseline data

Johnson began by highlighting the significance of baseline data. “Data is probably the most important piece of information to gather to help employees make informed decisions and also to improve organizations,” he stated. Equimetrics® provides a comprehensive 29-question assessment that measures various constructs such as communication, diversity, equity, inclusion, cultural competency, mission vision values, and policy and practice alignment. This baseline data is crucial for understanding the current state of an organization’s DEI efforts and identifying areas for improvement.

Johnson elaborated on the initial findings from these assessments, noting a common trend: “We started off measuring organizational alignment to the strategic plan and learned that minorities and women often weren’t answering the items very favorably. That inspired us to put a tool together to measure DEI.” This approach not only highlights areas needing attention but also sets a foundation for continuous improvement.

Moving from data to action

One of the common pitfalls in DEI initiatives, as Johnson noted, is the failure to move from data collection to actionable steps. “Employees want their voices to be heard. Once the employer submits the assessment, they have to do something with the data because you have to show that you’re listening to them,” he explained. Equimetrics® helps organizations translate their data into actionable insights. For instance, if communication scores are low, it indicates a need for better dissemination of information and clearer messaging from leadership.

Johnson emphasized the importance of involving employees in the planning process and ensuring that leadership is fully committed. “Leadership didn’t take it very seriously, so why should I?” This sentiment underscores the necessity for top-down buy-in to drive meaningful change. He provided examples of effective strategies, such as conducting roadshows and interactive sessions where leadership can directly engage with employees to discuss DEI plans and progress.

A significant challenge in DEI efforts is addressing skepticism and ensuring privacy. Johnson suggested meeting employees where they are and understanding what’s important to them. This approach helps tie DEI plans to their specific concerns and motivations. Additionally, he stressed the importance of using a third-party organization for assessments to maintain impartiality and protect employee privacy.

“Accuracy from the assessment is crucial,” Johnson noted. “We have measures in place to ensure that the data collected is both quantitative and qualitative. This dual approach helps in validating the responses and ensuring that the feedback is genuinely reflective of the employee sentiments.”

The future of DEI and technology

Looking ahead, Johnson sees technology playing an increasingly crucial role in DEI. “AI is also tying into this. After you’ve got that baseline data, you can build predictive models and forecasting,” he said. This capability allows organizations to anticipate future trends and outcomes based on their current DEI efforts. Staying ahead of technological advancements and incorporating tools like AI can significantly enhance the effectiveness of DEI initiatives.

Johnson also highlighted the role of continuous learning and adaptation. “As technology evolves, so must our tools and approaches. We are constantly evaluating and updating our platform to incorporate the latest advancements and best practices in data analysis and DEI.”

Practical advice for organizations

For organizations starting their DEI journey, Johnson’s advice is clear: begin with education and baseline data. Understanding where you are and where the gaps lie is essential for developing a robust DEI strategy. He also underscored the importance of constant refreshment of data and staying up-to-date with technological trends to ensure that DEI efforts remain relevant and effective.

“Equity is not taking your resources and giving them to somebody else. All equity really is, is fair and transparent treatment of all,” Johnson emphasized. This fundamental understanding is key to shaping effective DEI initiatives.

In closing, Johnson’s conversation with Hooks highlighted the transformative power of data in DEI. By leveraging tools like Equimetrics® and committing to continuous improvement, organizations can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. The journey may be challenging, but with data-driven insights and dedicated leadership, lasting change is achievable.

AI assisted in summarizing this episode of Equity in Focus.

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