DE&I Best Practices Dashboard

Elevating best practices, tracking regional progress, and offering insights for West Michigan employers.

For West Michigan to rank among the top 20% of regions for workforce quality nationally, employers must be able to attract, develop, and retain diverse talent. This dashboard supports these objectives by drawing on three years of aggregated data from our DE&I Benchmark Survey of West Michigan employers.

The DE&I Benchmark Survey data, along with our DE&I Employer Toolkit, provides data, insights and solutions for employers to strengthen their DE&I efforts and and increase the impact they have within their organization and across the region. 

Organizations self-report their data and performance scores in the two parts of the survey: Workforce Demographics and DE&I Best Practices.

Benchmark survey participants receive confidential insights to their cultural and demographic landscape, while aggregated scores allow us to track progress across our region. Both are essential to improvement.

The four dashboards below correspond to four segments used to group the best practices measured in our benchmark survey. Interactive tools allow users to drill down into the data by year, county, company size, and industry. Each section of data has insights and strategies to improve these scores.

  • Scoring is on a five-point scale, the same scale as the benchmark survey, with 5.0 signifying the pinnacle of DE&I excellence. Aggregate scores are color coded in each dashboard, ranging from red (0) to dark green (5).
  • Hover over any county on the map to view the average score for that segment, and to see the types of companies (i.e., for-profit and privately held, for-profit and publicly held, or non-profit) that responded to the survey during the selected year(s).
  • Filters on the left allow a choice of year the data was collected and the company size.
  • To explore results by industry sector, hover over any segment on the bar graphs to see the percentage of companies that achieved a given score on that segment of the survey based on your filter selections.

Strategic Foundation Practices

This segment anchors the DE&I strategy of an organization, emphasizing the essential elements needed to drive the strategy forward. The categories included in strategic foundation practices are:

  1. Vision, Strategy & Business Case practices establish a strategic DE&I direction in alignment with the organization’s mission guiding its objectives.
  2. Leadership & Accountability practices enforce DE&I accountability among leaders who are instrumental in setting goals, modeling inclusive behaviors, and ensuring progress.
  3. Structure & Implementation practices ensure the existence of dedicated support with the necessary authority and budget for effective implementation of DE&I initiatives.

Insights to Improve Strategic Foundation Practices

Buy-in and active support from senior leadership in an organization is essential for success in implementing DE&I best practices. Establishing a clear DE&I vision and structure of accountability sets a strong foundation, which is necessary for implementing change throughout the organization and empowering all team members to own and elevate a culture of inclusion. 

The Strategic Foundation Practices industry graph demonstrates a direct link between foundational DE&I practices in sectors like Manufacturing, Professional Services, and Retail & Hospitality, and their performance within the other three segments – Internal Organization Practices, Unifying Communication & Practices, and External Organization Practices. The notably low foundational scores in these industries are a significant determinant, negatively impacting their overall metrics across the remaining segments in the year 2020.

Our CEO Commitment is a great place to start. CEOs who sign this commitment pledge to include DE&I best practices in their talent attraction, development, and advancement strategies. This visible, genuine commitment sends a powerful signal internally and externally, emphasizing the seriousness with which these priorities are taken. Contact Carly Smyly to learn more.

Internal Organization Practices

This segment focuses on cultivating a workplace that attracts and retains a diverse pool of talent through inclusive practices. The categories included in internal organization practices are:

  1. Recruitment, Retention, Development & Advancement practices integrate DE&I principles into recruitment, employee engagement, and career advancement to ensure a skills-based, inclusive pathway for all employees.
  2. Benefits, Work-life Integration & Flexibility practices advocate for work-life balance and flexible arrangements, catering to the diverse needs of the workforce and promoting employee well-being.
  3. Job Design, Classification & Compensation practices assure job roles and compensation structures are impartial and equitable contributing to a fair work environment.
  4. DE&I Learning & Education practices educate leaders and employees, raising the level of DE&I understanding and capabilities across the organization.

Insights to Improve Internal Organization Practices

For change to happen, DE&I must be more than an add-on; it must be integrated into the very ethos of the organization through every policy, practice, and procedure, ensuring a culture of understanding, engagement, and care. 

The data reveals an unsettling trend in the reactive nature of DE&I over the years, which tends to wan in periods of uncertainty and economic downturn. For example, overall DE&I scores across the four segments were significantly lower in 2020 compared to 2019. The scores rebounded slightly in 2022, but remain shy of their trajectory pre-pandemic — likely, because the economy had yet to fully recover, and companies were cautious to invest in DE&I.

Our Inclusive Leadership Development event in 2024, highlighted the importance of implementing evidence-based change management principles to make DE&I last in your organization. Check out the summary on our blog, and get started on refreshing your DE&I strategy today.

Unifying Communication & Practices

This segment emphasizes the synthesis of various initiatives and the coherence of communication internally and externally to reinforce the organization’s DE&I strategy. The categories included in unifying communication and practices are:

  1. Assessment, Measurement & Research practices ensure thorough assessment, measurement, and research are the foundation of DE&I decision-making within the organization.
  2. DE&I Communications practices are critical to realizing the organization’s DE&I goals, facilitating clear, consistent, and open dialogue both internally and externally.
  3. Connecting DE&I & Sustainability practices recognize the integration of these domains can amplify the impact and effectiveness of each.

Insights to Improve Unifying Communication & Practices

Utilizing assessment tools is not merely advantageous, but critical for growth and continuous improvement. While the DE&I Best Practices Dashboard provides comparative perspectives across time, industries, and county, genuine progress requires holistic measures of impact and an awareness of how your own organization measures up. 

Our DE&I Benchmark Survey provides participants with individualized company reports with their own year over year comparisons as well as comparison to the aggregate score each year. Pairing this individualized report with this dashboard furthers the insights for how an organization measures up against peers. The data and insights inform leaders in establishing priorities and developing strategic plans.

Effective organizations develop robust KPIs to evaluate the impact their DE&I efforts have on their organizational performance, their workforce, and the community. Our DE&I Employer Toolkit provides research, best practices, and examples from West Michigan employers of strategies that work. The tools are intended to serve as a resource to help leaders develop and deploy solutions that work for their organization.

External Organization Practices

This segment centers on how an organization extends its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond its internal practices to impact society positively. The categories included in external organization practices are:

  1. Community, Government Relations & Social Responsibility practices actively advocate for DE&I progress within local communities and society at large, demonstrating the organization’s role as a force for social change.
  2. Products & Services Development practices embed DE&I considerations in the development and delivery of products and services to meet the needs of a diverse clientele.
  3. Marketing & Customer Service practices integrate DE&I into marketing efforts, ensuring that promotional strategies are inclusive and reflective of the organization’s diverse audience.
  4. Supplier Diversity practices promote a diverse supplier base, encouraging suppliers to embrace and advocate for DE&I principles, thereby extending the organization’s impact on the broader business ecosystem.

Insights to Improve External Organization Practices

Elevating external organization practices to match the level of effort invested into internal organization practices is imperative to maximize effectiveness, closing the racial and ethnic gaps in per capita income, unemployment, and labor force participation — a key priority for TalentFirst and our members. 

Insights from Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa counties indicate a notable shortfall in supplier diversity efforts, which persisted across all years of observation. This shortfall contributed to significant disparities recorded between internal and external organization practice scores — reinforcing the need for increased action and focus on external organization DE&I practices across all industries.

Learn more about the business case for supplier diversity and what local organizations are doing in this space through our DE&I Employer Toolkit.