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How do you calculate the ROI of DEI?

Calculating the return on investment (ROI) of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives is complex due to the multifaceted nature of these programs. ROI in this context isn't just about financial returns but also includes cultural, social, and organizational benefits. Here is some guidance on how to get started:

1. Define Objectives and Metrics

Before calculating ROI, it's crucial to define clear objectives and identify the metrics that will be used to measure DEI success. Common objectives for DEI initiatives include improving employee retention, enhancing team performance, increasing innovation, and boosting employee satisfaction and engagement.

2. Financial Metrics

Consider anything you can tie financially to the outcome of DEI efforts.

Cost Reduction:

  • Employee Turnover: High turnover rates are costly. DEI initiatives can reduce turnover by creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment, leading to cost savings in recruitment, hiring, and training.

  • Absenteeism: Inclusive workplaces often see reduced absenteeism, as employees feel more valued and engaged.

Revenue Generation:

  • Market Reach: Diverse teams can better understand and penetrate diverse markets, potentially leading to increased revenue.

  • Innovation: Diverse teams bring varied perspectives, which can drive innovation and lead to new products or services.

3. Non-Financial Metrics

Then consider the additional benefits of DEI, although not directly tied to financial output or savings.

Employee Engagement:

  • Measure employee satisfaction and engagement through surveys before and after implementing DEI initiatives. Higher engagement often correlates with increased productivity and loyalty.

Workplace Culture:

  • Assess changes in workplace culture through employee feedback and culture assessments. Be sure to evaluate inclusion in terms of behaviors--what people DO to make others feel valued, respected, seen, and heard. Research shows that higher levels of inclusion can enhance overall organizational performance through better decision-making and bringing products to market more quickly.

Customer Satisfaction:

  • Diverse and inclusive companies often perform better in customer satisfaction, as diverse teams are more likely to understand and meet the needs of a varied customer base.

Community impact:

  • DEI initiatives should strive to improve the broader community in which an organization operates. What groups benefit from DEI efforts? How does DEI contribute to broader social justice causes?

4. Data Collection and Analysis

Collect data relevant to the defined metrics both before and after DEI initiatives are implemented. This can include:

  • Employee Surveys: Gather feedback on employee satisfaction, engagement, and perceptions of inclusivity.

  • Performance Data: Track performance metrics such as productivity levels, sales figures, and customer feedback.

  • HR Data: Analyze turnover rates, recruitment costs, and absenteeism.

5. Calculate Costs

Calculate the costs associated with implementing DEI initiatives. These may include:

  • Training Programs: Costs of conducting diversity training, workshops, and seminars.

  • Policy Changes: Expenses related to revising policies and procedures to promote inclusivity.

  • Recruitment: Costs associated with targeted recruitment efforts to attract diverse talent.

6. Calculate Returns

Compare the pre- and post-implementation data to determine the returns. This involves:

  • Quantifying Improvements: For financial metrics, quantify improvements such as cost savings from reduced turnover or increased revenue from better market reach.

  • Assessing Non-Financial Benefits: While harder to quantify, improvements in employee engagement, culture, and customer satisfaction can be evaluated through qualitative measures and translated into potential long-term financial benefits.

7. ROI Formula

Use the ROI formula to calculate the return: ROI= (Net Gain from DEI Initiatives / Cost of DEI Initiatives) ×100

Example Calculation

Assume a company spent $100,000 on DEI initiatives and observed the following:

  • A reduction in turnover saved $50,000 in recruitment and training costs.

  • An increase in sales attributed to better market understanding added $30,000 in revenue.

  • Improved employee engagement led to a 10% productivity boost, valued at $40,000.

Total benefits = $50,000 + $30,000 + $40,000 = $120,000

Net gain = Total benefits - Cost of DEI initiatives = $120,000 - $100,000 = $20,000

ROI = (20,000 / 100,000) x 100 = 20%


Calculating the ROI of DEI requires a blend of quantitative and qualitative analysis, considering both financial returns and broader organizational benefits.

By systematically defining objectives, collecting data, and analyzing results, organizations can effectively evaluate the impact of their DEI efforts and make informed decisions about future investments.

Need help formulating the right ROI of DEI equation for your organization? Reach out today.


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