It was once said, “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” And then Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were born! Okay… maybe it didn’t happen quite like that, but KPIs truly enable business leaders to track progress against their most important initiatives.

…unless you’re not tracking the right KPIs.

We see it all the time. The KPIs of predecessors are inherited. The tried-and-true KPIs that all companies measure are prioritized. What’s countable and reportable become the de facto metrics.

This is particularly true when it comes to HR and People metrics. The long-adopted HR metrics are things we’ve seen before. Things like…

Employee Engagement

Employee Turnover

Time to Hire

Absenteeism Rate

Cost per Hire

Employee Retention Rate

In recent years, we’ve also started to see long-overdue and massively important metrics around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Metrics like pay equity, leadership diversity, and accessibility. But how often are these metrics performative, or giving the “illusion of inclusion?”

One of my favorite examples of a metric that gives the illusion of inclusion is when companies tout the percentage of women that occupy leadership roles. What this metric doesn’t tell you is whether these women feel supported in their roles, whether they’re paid on par with their male counterparts and have an equal seat at the table, or how long it took them to reach those roles in comparison to their male counterparts.

If we really wanted to make sure that the women in our companies have equal opportunity to lead, we would be tracking very different metrics.

In March, SQA Group was commissioned by Women in Leadership Nexus, an organization driving career velocity for women across the globe, to create new, multidimensional KPIs to measure career advancement for women in a future of work paradigm. KPIs that organizations of all sizes and industries can adopt to drive new day-to-day team behaviors and actions that create more equitable, momentous career advancement for women.

Our specific focus was around:

  • Creating, distributing, and analyzing results of a nationwide survey on career advancement
  • Conducting and leading participants through a series of design thinking workshops and focus groups to expand the conversation around “career advancement”
  • Leveraging our Metrics Finder methodology to synthesize input from hundreds of women across the nation to invent 10+ new metrics that all organizations can adopt

Over the course of 4 weeks, we connected with over 300 women across the country via surveys, in-person focus groups, and virtual focus groups to find out what is top of mind as it relates to career advancement goals and barriers. From that, a committee of women participated in a series of design thinking workshops to discuss the current state of career advancement, the ideal state, and the behaviors necessary to move the needle.

Our Data and Advanced Analytics team synthesized input from the survey, focus groups, and workshops to invent new KPIs, set sample benchmark goals, and create proof of concept data visualizations. The final 48-page report included 11 career advancement metrics that companies can immediately add to their dashboards to more inclusively and futuristically measure career advancement. Metrics like…

Flight Risk Predictor Score

Division of Labor Equity (DOLE)

Self-Investment Score

‘Understudy’ Awareness Rate

Communication Flow Rate

Here are a few of my favorites…


Flight Risk Predictor Score

We’re in the midst of the “Great Breakup,” with women leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers and at higher rates than men in leadership. The reason? Women tend to experience microaggressions more often (like having their judgment questioned), are supporting employee well-being more often which is critical but oftentimes goes unrewarded, and because they’re leaving to work for companies that prioritize flexibility, well-being, and DEI.

With women already significantly underrepresented in leadership, these departures have steep implications within organizations. Companies not only risk losing their current employees but also the next generation of women leaders.

The Flight Risk Predictor score allows organizations to pinpoint roles and career pathways that most cause burnout and immediately improve the environment, culture, and responsibilities associated with the role to stop the mass exodus of women.


Communication Flow Rate

Workplaces that are characterized by “old boys clubs,” workplace cliques, and favoritism create severe and steep impacts for those who are not part of the “inner circle,” particularly for women. Bringing women closer to the center of communication ensures women gain equal access to corporate vision and direction, knowledge flow, and relationship building. The Communication Flow Rate highlights disparities that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Through the Communication Flow Rate, companies can map how information and communication flows throughout the organization and ensure that women are equitably positioned as core communication hubs. It also enables leaders to find high potentials and high performers who may be on the periphery in terms of communication so that you can take steps to better loop them in.


Division of Labor Equity (DOLE)

Research indicates that on average, women perform 200 more hours of non-promotable work every year compared to their male counterparts. In mixed-gender groups, women also tend to volunteer for non-promotable tasks (NPTs) 50% more than men do. NPTs include things like taking meetings notes, ordering lunches, or organizing office parties. There is often a gap in how labor is divided in many companies, and it stretches across the lines of gender, race, and age. DOLE focuses on ensuring that non-promotable work is not only called out but measured so as to ensure shared and balanced load of NPT work.

DOLE helps companies inventory non-promotable work, reallocate it so that the share is more equitable, and track individual time spent on NPTs.


These are just three of the 11 metrics we created. Click here to download the full report.

The power in these metrics is that they were co-created with and centered around the stakeholders. We didn’t limit their thoughts by starting with data but rather approached the project with an “anything is possible” mindset.

What KPIs would you and your team come up with if you took the same approach?


Interested in measuring more progressively? Our Data and Analytics team is here to help you get started. Click here to learn more about our Metrics Finder and reach out to the team to set up a demo of additional KPIs you can start tracking immediately.