Glassdoor’s D&I ratings: What does 4.6 out of 5 even mean?

close up of star shaped glitter
stars by Darko Pevec, licensed under Creative Commons

Today I learned that Glassdoor recently added diversity and inclusion metrics to their company rankings. My first reaction was excitement–this could drive accountability and increase transparency on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We know that many many people care about DEI in an employer’s brand, so this seems like useful functionality for candidates researching potential companies.

Glassdoor launched these user submitted D&I reviews with 12 companies. Salesforce scored the highest, with 4.6/5. That’s great! But what does it mean?

screenshot of Greenhouse's interface: Diversity and Inclusion at Salesforce 4.6 out of 5 (52 reviews)

When people are scoring their company on D&I, what factors are they considering in that category? I also wondered “If 9/10 white people think their company is anti-racist, what does that mean?, or if 4/5 men think a company isn’t sexist what does that mean?” In my DEI work I’ve used employee engagement data to diagnose the places where different demographic groups are having very different experiences and then ask “what’s going on here?”

In a blog post about this feature, Christian Sutherland-Wong, the Glassdoor CEO said, “Job seekers and employees today really care about equity, and for too long they’ve lacked access to the information needed to make informed decisions about the companies that are, or are not, truly inclusive.” Equity is something I care about and the D&I score on Glassdoor doesn’t help me evaluate that. By only having an overall score it reflects the sentiment and scores of the largest demographic groups. I set up a Glassdoor account and saw that I wasn’t asked for demographic information, so any type of weighting based on demographic wouldn’t be possible. (I’m sure what a methodologically sound way of weighted scores would be, but I’m sure smarter, mathier people would have informed opinions on this).

Edit: The Glassdoor post about D&I in their product says that for “U.S.-based employees and job seekers to voluntarily and anonymously share their demographic information to help others determine whether a company is actually delivering on its diversity and inclusion commitments. Glassdoor users can provide information regarding their race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, parental status, and more, all of which can be shared anonymously through their Glassdoor user profile. With these demographic contributions, Glassdoor will soon display company ratings, workplace factor ratings, salary reports, and more aggregate, broken out by specific groups at specific companies. This information will equip employers with further data and insights to create and sustain more equitable workplaces.”

Most large companies now release diversity disclosure reports (Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the one I authored at Mozilla). It would be very useful if Glassdoor used this data to share high level diversity numbers in each company profile.

screenshot of Greenhouse's interface: Google's company overview

Overall I’m glad to see Glassdoor add more information about D&I to their platform but question if user submitted scores out of 5 are terribly useful. I’d love to see Glassdoor surface diversity metrics in their company profiles. I’m curious to see how more transparency around D&I helps candidates and companies make better decisions.