How to Measure DEI Progress in Higher Ed

DEI training for Higher Ed

Building DEI in higher education can improve your institution’s reputation, and it’s critical to recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff. But it’s difficult to measure the impact of DEI initiatives, leading to inaction, focusing on the wrong efforts, or an inability to provide the right resources to those who need them most.

So, how can you measure the success of DEI efforts at your institution?

This article will show you:

Start by gathering the right data

DEI-related data comes from different sources. Some data, like student demographics, likely exist, while other data will need to be gathered.

We’ll summarize common types of data to collect for:

Student Data
Student demographics

Use admissions information to gather student demographic data such as gender, race, ethnicity, and age. And collect data about student disabilities and conditions, which can impact how online education is delivered and identifies differing needs for assistive devices.

Academic performance data

Academic performance data, correlated with demographic data, can shed light on the students or groups that are more or less likely to succeed. This information can help identify opportunities to implement new DEI initiatives that support student success.


You find that 20% of your total student population and 35% of your online students have disabilities that impact their ability to engage, interact, and learn.

After analyzing their performance, you find that online students with disabilities achieve lower grades than those who attend classes on campus.

The lower grade could be due to course curriculum, but it could also be tied to accessibility issues online students encounter that can negatively impact their performance.

DEI & institutional experience data

Without asking for it, most students don’t share the impact of DEI efforts with institutions. Conduct regular student surveys to understand experiences, opinions, ideas, and awareness of DEI initiatives.

Surveys help understand why students choose a particular university or why they decided to leave – both could be related to DEI.

Faculty & staff data
Compensation data

Compensation data should be readily available within HR and accounting systems. Gathering this information can highlight potential gaps or biases and should be part of this initial audit.

However, it’s important not to jump to conclusions based on compensation alone. When evaluating compensation differences, leaders must take into account any outlying factors tied to individual compensation packages.


A compensation analysis shows that some female instructors in the business

department aren’t compensated as well as male instructors with similar years of employment at the institution. Additionally, after digging in further, you find that Black females in particular are compensated less than White females.

Is this gap due to biases, or were other factors taken into consideration when assigning compensation?

Other factors that can impact compensation include performance, the number of classes each instructor teaches, departmental research grants and donations, and fundraising, among other factors.

Understanding this information helps determine whether gaps in compensation are due to potential bias or not. In this scenario, start by looking at individual performance reviews for the department’s female and male instructors with similar years of experience and who teach the same number of classes. Look into the other factors listed above. If all factors are equal except salary, this may point to a bias.


Scenario A: 12% of the female performance review scores were below average, while only 10% of male performance reviews were below average.

In this scenario, the difference between the percentage of females and males who received below-average scores is relatively small. While these scores may not be the sole reason behind the compensation gap, they could be a contributing factor.

Consider the individuals or teams behind the reviews. Are they judging individuals differently based on biased beliefs that cause lower scores for one segment?

Scenario B: 45% of White females received above-average performance reviews, and 37% of Black females received the same.

The percentages in Scenario B is significant, which could indicate potential bias against Black female instructors. Dig into this information to determine what factors may be contributing to the compensation gap. True performance is acceptable, but inherent biases against capability related to race are not.

Demographic data

Most institutions have faculty and staff demographic data available within the systems used for HR purposes.

Understanding demographic information at every level is important because an institution may have a diverse workforce as a whole but still struggle in key areas, like diversity in positions of leadership. An institution may be diverse in terms of race or ethnicity, but there could also be gaps in the number of male and female employees.

Leadership diversity data

It’s important to understand if an institution’s leadership team is truly diverse. Gather data around employee demographics and positions of leadership to identify any gaps that exist in leadership roles.

DEI training data

This information could be tricky to gather, depending on the level of past DEI training. Some institutions use the LMS to test knowledge based on information covered during training, but others may consider watching a video as training.

Regardless of type, gather any available data about DEI training, such as:
Employee experience data

Like with students, conducting surveys regularly with faculty and staff helps understand opinions, expectations, awareness, and understanding of DEI efforts. It uncovers information that might not otherwise be available and gives employees a voice in developing DEI initiatives that meet their needs.

A few ways to segment employees for surveys:
Institutional data

Aside from the data for students, faculty and staff, leaders should also look to gather institutional information that can be used to improve DEI efforts.

Budget & financial impact

Data from operational and institutional efforts can help teams understand the financial impact of DEI initiatives, the gaps that exist, and the allocated budget.

Spending for DEI initiatives

Gather data about the average spend on DEI initiatives each year.

DEI’s impact on recruiting and retention

Example: DEI may improve employee engagement, which can lead to better retention rates. How much does this save in reduced turnover and new employee training? Evaluate and measure every aspect of improvement DEI creates.

Recruitment & retention data

Look at the percentage of diverse candidates and how they progress through different levels in the hiring process.

Next, determine which levels need to improve and which are in good standing. Set realistic goals to maintain and improve these levels, starting with the lower levels.

Employee retention

The examples below are a brief look at data to gather about the retention of diverse employees and leaders. Are there any areas of employee retention that are weaker than others? If yes, dig into why.

Number/percent of diversity:

Find strengths & weaknesses

After gathering the data you need data, look at your strengths and weaknesses.

Set goals

Once a bigger picture of DEI initiatives emerges, the next step is to set goals that outline where the institution should be and the potential impact of achieving this desired state. It’s important to be specific and realistic about goals, milestones, and timelines.

Prioritize steps to maintain & improve

After identifying what’s working and what needs improvement, focus on the areas of opportunity. How can these be addressed in order to meet the DEI goals?

Data example for online students

For this example, assume that the data indicates two things about online students:

  1. 85% feel welcomed and included because of the student orientation

  2. 35% believe that the online course content doesn’t isn’t accessible
What are the next steps?

Overall, the student orientation is in good standing, but real priority is improving the accessibility of online course content. You’ll see in the steps below that efforts for each can benefit the other.

Prioritize the accessibility of course content

1. Make quick accessibility updates while planning longer-term efforts. LMS admins can make changes to global LMS settings that impact the online course experience for a large number of students, such as:

2. Define longer-term efforts

While the quicker changes are being implemented, prepare longer-term efforts, such as:

3. Use student surveys about the orientation to serve a dual purpose

While 85% of students indicated that the orientation process made them feel welcomed and included, there are likely still some ways to improve. Adding questions about accessibility to the surveys can help students see that their well-being and needs are important, right from the beginning of their relationship with the institution.

Surveys serve two purposes:

DEI measurement in action

Measurement goes beyond just analyzing the impact of DEI initiatives. Collecting and analyzing the right data provides valuable insight to help refine and improve initiatives that directly impact reputation, recruitment, retention, resources, and revenue – the 5 Rs.

Ultimately, allowing institutions to deliver an exceptional educational experience for students and an elevated teaching experience for instructors.

Read our recent blog if you’re wondering what to expect from educational technology and online learning in the near future.

2023 Higher Ed Online Learning Trends

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What the Great Resignation Means for Women Leaders

What the Great Resignation Means for Women Leaders

2021 was a historic year for the job market. According to the US Labor Statistics, of the 69 million people who were separated from their position (quit, laid off, or terminated), 47.4 million voluntarily left.

Some call it “The Great Resignation.”

But no matter what you call it, the power has shifted toward the employee – at least for the near future. But what does the impact of the Great Resignation mean for women in leadership roles?

​​With so many people leaving the workforce and more organizations doing as much as they can to attract talent back to work, we may have reached a tipping point that could mean good things for women leaders.

In this article we’ll detail:

The struggle starts before the “Glass Ceiling”

For years, you’ve probably heard the terms “Glass Ceiling” and “Broken Rung” that women face. Both terms essentially refer to the fact that women face more challenges in advancing to senior leadership roles compared to men.

But the struggles start earlier than that.

“For every 100 men who are promoted to an entry-level manager position, 72 women are promoted. This has a waterfall effect because there aren’t enough women in the leadership pipeline from the very beginning,” said Robin Kistler, current Executive Talent Program Director at Anthem, Inc. and former director of non-degree business programs at the University of Notre Dame.

Three questions women in leadership should ask themselves every seven years
  1. What should I leave behind?
  2. What do I want/need to learn next?
  3. What drives me now?

Why seven years?

“It’s long enough to have transitioned from education to the workplace, to have made a new career move, and to have experienced a life-changing crisis. Yet it’s short enough to feel practical,” Kistler explained.

What should I leave behind?

This is where you determine what you don’t want in your career and life. Remember, knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do want.

“We’ll need to get more skilled at letting go of what was — our old identity, relationship, competencies — to embrace what’s next — as yet unknown, undefined, and ambiguous.” – Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, Consultant, Coach, & Author.

To dig into this more, ask yourself these questions:


What do I want/need to learn next?

As you’re figuring out what you do and don’t want in your career, decide what you want to learn and what you need to learn.

It’s important to note that this can be both formal and informal learning. Depending on your path, you may need to learn more to help pass an industry certification, or you may want to learn how to improve emotional intelligence.

Regardless of what you need or want to learn, make a list and get started.

What drives me?

Just like our priorities change in life, so do our drivers. Some people are driven by money, while others are driven by schedule flexibility. Regardless of what drives you, make a list of what your drivers are and why they’re important to you.

Type up your answers to these questions and then email them to yourself and print a copy to keep on your desk.

What women should look for when choosing their next role and company

Women can be more particular about roles and organizations

“Women professionals have more choice than ever before, and that means you can be more particular about the roles and organizations you work for. The war for talent has intensified, which means women leaders are on the right side of the equation,” Kistler said.

But what should women in leadership actually look for in a role and company? Kistler used this list to guide her own career search:
Committed to empowering women in the workforce

“If an organization has a track record of progressive thinking toward women in the workforce, they will attract, promote, and retain the best female candidates. This includes visible indicators of a female pipeline from early career to executive level,” Kistler said.

Look for employers that:


Focuses on creating a culture of diversity and inclusion

Kistler detailed that employers that truly embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion should:

Embraces progressive employer practices

In addition to a company that’s truly committed to creating equal opportunity for women in the workforce and creating a workplace that’s diverse and inclusive, they should also:


Addressing the causes of burnout in the workplace

Workplace burnout isn’t a badge of honor. But what causes burnout at work?


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How Can Diversity & Inclusion Improve Business Performance?

How DEI improves business performance for businesses

More companies are investing time and effort into improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace because of the impact it has on the employee experience and the tangible performance improvements it creates.

“The business case is glaring. Diverse companies with inclusive cultures outperform more homogenous companies. Revenue, market share, smarter teams, retention – there’s just no lack of evidence.” – Miriam Lewis, Chief Inclusion Officer for Principal.

Click to view each section:

Click here to download the diversity statement template

How diversity and inclusion efforts impact a company’s performance

According to a six-year study completed in 2020 by McKinsey, diverse companies are 36% more profitable than less diverse companies.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I), when done the right way, create a domino effect of improvements for businesses.

D&I is linked with employee engagement, which is a foundational element of productivity and employee retention. Both employee productivity and retention can directly impact financial performance.

To show you what we mean by this web of improvements, the graphic below shows how the benefits of D&I intersect in various areas.

How to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Understand the difference between diversity and inclusion

As organizations begin planning, it’s important to understand the difference between diversity and inclusion, which are sometimes used interchangeably or even as a joint term.

“Diversity is the mix of individuals. Inclusion is how you make that mix work.” – Jameel Rush, PHR, SHRM-CP, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Adjunct professor at Villanova University


Focus on first creating inclusion and THEN building diversity in the workplace

Many organizations’ knee-jerk reaction to diversity and inclusion efforts is to hire for diversity.

The problem is that you can hire for diversity, but it can still be a poor experience for the employee if they’re entering a workplace that isn’t inclusive. It isn’t enough to set up occasional employee training and hire a few diverse employees as a way to check the box.

So, before you hire, focus on creating an inclusive culture that’s genuine and ongoing.

“Adding diversity to a team isn’t what drives better outcomes. It’s adding diversity and making sure you can leverage the different points of view and different perspectives to work toward a stronger solution. That’s what adds to the better business results.” – Jameel Rush


Be transparent and create awareness

Be transparent about D&I efforts and create awareness about the impact and importance.

Leadership can’t shy away from communicating the organization’s efforts and goals around D&I. They need to be transparent and open about the organization’s short-term and long-term goals and what efforts will be made to get there.

Leaders need to create awareness about how a diverse and inclusive work culture benefits each employee in the organization and everyone around them on a day-to-day basis.

Set expectations about behavior and accountability

Ultimately, every employee at every level needs to know what their role is in creating an inclusive culture. This means that employees need to understand what’s expected of them and what they can expect from organizational leaders and the organization as a whole.

Explain exactly what’s expected from each employee and what behaviors won’t be tolerated. Likewise, they need to know what to expect from leaders and the organization in return. Detail what to expect from measuring and communicating progress, anticipated timelines, and how leadership will be held accountable for progress towards D&I efforts.


Educate employees and assess their knowledge

Conduct frequent diversity and inclusion education programs in the workplace and use assessments to track progress and gather feedback. Set specific timelines to conduct employee D&I educational opportunities and stick to the plan. Whether it’s once per quarter or twice a year, make sure that you educate employees and get their feedback.

Once employees have completed the educational requirements, it’s important to test their knowledge. You can use a variety of question types, such as multiple-choice, written responses, and true or false.

As part of the employee education and assessment process, gather feedback within the assessment or offer a separate low-stakes assessment where employees can provide anonymous feedback through polls, written responses, and other surveys.

Create a diversity and inclusion statement for the workplace

Create a diversity and inclusion statement for your team and/or company that describes your commitment to creating an inclusive and diverse workplace and how it impacts everyone in the organization.

Employees need to know that it’s a true effort and that they’re welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background.

What is a diversity and inclusion statement?

A diversity and inclusion statement explains:

  • The individual/team/company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • How D&I impacts the workplace
  • What employees can expect from the leader/company
  • What the leader/company expects from employees

How to write a diversity and inclusion statement for the workplace

Describe your commitment to DEI and why it’s important

This is where you set the tone for the rest of the statement, provide context, and begin building trust.


Explain how D&I impacts each employee’s experience

The goal is to explain exactly how D&I benefits the workplace experience for each employee and their coworkers. Create an understanding that regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, or condition, each employee is welcome and included in the company.


Describe what employees can expect from the company and its leaders

At a high level, explain what efforts will be made to create and maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace, what success looks like, and how employees can hold the company and its leaders accountable. Acknowledge challenges and describe what will be done to overcome them.


Be clear about what’s expected of each employee

Employees at all levels need to know exactly what is expected of them and how they play a role in creating an inclusive work environment.

Be direct about what behavior is expected
Explain that derogatory and offensive language won’t be tolerated and the consequences that will be enforced.

Explain why their words are significant
Speak about the importance of using inclusive language and how it can help create a sense of belonging for other employees.

Example diversity and inclusion statement for companies to use

[company name] is committed to creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace because it’s these differences that drive innovation, encourage creativity, and build a respectful and safe work environment for every employee. Regardless of any differences, whether race, gender, ethnicity, age, or condition, you are an important part of this organization and community.

As [company name] works toward improving DEI, expect us to provide frequent and transparent updates regarding our progress, challenges, and plans moving forward.

Your role in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment is equally important because you can make an impact on others. You’ll treat each employee with respect and understand that your words and actions influence everyone around you. [Company name] will not tolerate any derogatory or offensive words or actions. It’s your duty, just like ours, to stay aware, informed, and proactive.

Remember that we all play an equal part in an ongoing effort to create a diverse, fair, and inclusive workplace that welcomes all employees, encourages open and respectful communication, and supports each of you throughout your career and life.


Enter your email address below to download the diversity statement template

Writing DEI Statements for Online Courses

Tips for how to write a diversity statement for online courses

A well-written diversity statement sets the tone and communicates your firm commitment to creating and improving educational opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background.

But, what goes into a diversity statement? How long should it be? How is a diversity statement different for an online course?

We’ll answer all of your questions and provide you with an DEI statement example to use in your online courses.

What is a diversity statement?

A diversity statement is a document that explains:

  • Your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
  • How DEI impacts the students’ learning experience
  • What your learns can expect from you
  • What you expect from your students

A diversity statement is often referred to as a DEI statement or diversity and inclusion statement/policy.


How long should a DEI statement be?

Be clear and concise, but don’t worry about counting words.

Whether you write 100 words or 100 pages, your main goal is to clearly explain your DEI mission and purpose.

Is a diversity statement different for an online course?

Most of the information will be similar, but a diversity statement for an online course requires some additional information.

Writing a diversity statement for an in-person class will be similar to the statement you’ll use in an online course. However, for an online course, you’ll need to explain the extra steps you’ll take to overcome the obstacles that a distance learning environment creates, such as web accessibility and how you’ll help drive engagement in a virtual setting.

Is there a diversity statement format you need to follow?

Nope. Write the diversity statement how you want and make it your own.

If you want to use paragraphs, go for it. If you prefer bullet points, use them.

Use any format and content you want to get your point across in a meaningful way.

We’ll provide you with a sample diversity statement template later in this article, but keep this in mind: it’s just an example to give you direction and inspiration. Use it as is or edit it as much as you want.

How to write a diversity statement for an online course

Describe your commitment to DEI and why it’s important to you

Set the stage for the rest of the statement and use this section as your opportunity to provide context and begin building trust.

  • Use a powerful introduction to set the tone and grab their attention
  • Explain what DEI means to you and describe your experience.
  • Regardless of your race, gender, ethnicity, age, or condition, describe your experience and understanding.


Explain how DEI impacts the learning experience

The goal of this section is for learners to understand exactly how DEI benefits the learning experience for themselves and others.

  • Describe how DEI creates a well-rounded learning experience that considers different perspectives.
  • Explain how it creates a learning environment that provides everyone with a fair and equitable opportunity to learn.
  • Emphasize that DEI creates an inclusive learning environment that welcomes everyone.

Tell them what to expect from you

Just like learners want to know what’s expected of them, they want to know what to expect from you as an instructor. This is also where you’ll add information about how DEI is especially important in an online course and the steps you’ll take to improve it.

  • Explain that you’ll consider DEI in every aspect of the course, from the course content and exam accommodations to the language you use and discussions you facilitate.
  • Reiterate that you will enforce consequences for poor behavior and ask students to be vocal about holding you accountable and helping to educate others.
  • Acknowledge that a remote learning environment poses challenges, such as effectively communicating and connecting and ensuring web accessibility, but tell them you’ll take extra steps to continually learn and improve to overcome any barriers.

Tell learners what you expect from them

Explain what’s expected of them and how they play a role in creating an inclusive learning environment.

  • Be explicit about what behavior is expected.
  • Explain that derogatory and offensive language won’t be tolerated and the consequences that you will enforce.
  • Speak about the importance of using inclusive language and how it can help create a sense of belonging for other students.
  • Explain how their words and behavior play a role in creating an inclusive learning environment.

Example Diversity and Inclusion Statement

Feel free to copy-and-paste this templated DEI statement example below, but remember that it’s just an example. You can use it how it is or edit it as much as you’d like.

As an educator, using diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is one piece of a larger effort that helps achieve a very important goal: improving the educational experience for each student.

I’m committed to this effort because I know it’s these differences that inspire compassion, encourage creativity, create a community, and support you in your education and life.

The terms are interconnected, but let’s lay out what they mean.

Diversity goes beyond things like age, race, gender, and sexual orientation; it also includes our perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds that make us the unique individuals we are.

Equity doesn’t mean equality. Instead of providing you all with identical resources, you’ll receive the specific resources you need as an individual to learn, access, participate, and succeed in this course.

Inclusion creates a genuine sense of belonging in an environment where everyone is welcomed, valued, respected, and heard.

DEI impacts the educational experience for you and your classmates in many ways. It provides different perspectives, challenges you to think holistically, and creates an invaluable sense of inclusion and belonging.

What to expect from me

You can expect me to use a variety of resources and challenge you to think from a diverse perspective in every area of this course.

Online learning changes. Your needs change. Technologies change. What works today may not work tomorrow. That said, you can expect me to get things wrong. But I promise to continually learn, adapt, and improve to the best of my ability, and I challenge you to do the same.

I take feedback very seriously and use it as a tool to learn and improve. I expect and hope that you’ll give me feedback along the way. This means sharing your concerns as well as what you (and even your peers) enjoyed.

Your role

Each person in this course plays an equal part in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. You can make a positive impact on the educational experience of your peers. I challenge you to learn from them and share your knowledge.

You’ll treat each student with respect and understand that your words and actions influence everyone around you. I will not tolerate any derogatory or offensive words or actions. It’s your duty, just like mine, to stay informed, aware, and proactive.

Remember, you have a voice, and your voice matters. You’re an important part of this course and our ongoing effort to create a better educational experience that truly supports your educational journey and life.

How to establish and use DEI in your online courses

Now that you know how to write a diversity statement, you need to know how to effectively establish and use DEI in your online course.

From the way you communicate with your students to the way you develop course content and test their knowledge, DEI plays a role in every aspect of your online courses.


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