Empowerment Metrics

How to Measure

Empowerment is best measured using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Degrees of empowerment can be measured by looking at the existence of choice, the use of choice, and the achievement of choice. Empowerment is a journey not a destination. When measuring choice, it is important to consider who is being empowered. You can do this by:

  • Engaging those impacted in the development, implementation and evaluation, and compensating them for their time.

  • Using trusted communicators to collect input or feedback.

  • Embedding funds for training/capacity building of populations to support human-centered design.

  • Publicly reporting on progress in implementing feedback.

  • Creating formal structures to include worker voice at every step of the process.

Common Mechanisms for Collecting Qualitative Empowerment Data

  • Focus groups: Small group conversations around a specific topic that are intended to create understanding, surface insights and foster connection. Generally focused on dialogue rather than specific data points. Can be used as a tool to directly inform the design of a program as well as a mechanism to collect qualitative evaluation data throughout the life of the program. Focus group insights might be the basis for persona development and user journey mapping.
  • Surveys: Intended to capture views, attitudes and perceptions from a large group of individuals. Often collect basic biographic data to identify variances by group. Can be used as learning tools to inform program design or even help participants understand the environment and culture of an organization they are considering working for. Can also be used to educate participants about ways that they can continuously exercise voice and choice within an organization even after placement.
  • Interviews: Generally a structured discussion conducted with an individual to collect specific insights on a program, approach or set of supports. Can be used to inform design, gauge effectiveness of a program or customize additional resources. Additionally, it is important to educate workers about the power of interview participation as an ongoing opportunity to exercise their voice and power.
Sample Metrics

Program Design

• Use human-centered design practices to guide design and development, including personas and mapping techniques

• Join or encourage participation in associations that support worker organizing or worker power to learn best practices

• Include dedicated time (and budget) for training individuals serving the public with the necessary skills to provide customized, whole person support

Program Delivery

• Conduct worker voice surveys to understand progress

• Facilitate interviews or focus groups on particular topics of interest to participants/workers

• Engage employers early and often to not only stay current on their engagement approaches but also create new job quality norms

• Establish continuous feedback loops and track results, including formalizing worker voice through councils and boards

• Create spaces that encourage not penalize innovation and monitor resulting change

• Create awareness around Employee Resource Groups/affinity groups/employee networks to regularly surface worker perspectives


• Request participant insights on the approach before initiating evaluation - consider the burden of the work

• Incentivize co-design of evaluation measures as those impacted by the work are experts on their realities

• Compensate individuals for sharing their knowledge, insights and experience at a living wage

Given the complexity, it is difficult to distill empowerment to a single metric and often requires an index or set of indicators. The extent or degree to which a person is empowered is influenced by personal agency (the capacity to make purposive choice) and opportunity structure (the institutional context in which choice is made). Methods to measure empowerment should be fit-for-purpose, meaning they are relevant and specific to content and target groups, taking into consideration the interpretations of empowerment (e.g., adolescents likely define empowerment differently than adults, even within the same community).

Categories for Measurement
Sample Metrics

Existence of Choice

It Is Available and Accessible?

• $ or % of investment in provision of family-centered, racially responsive coaching and support

• # or $ allocated to existence of/investment in worker councils or boards

• # or $ allocated to existence of/investment in worker councils or boards

• # or $ allocated to creating options to sort job opportunities, programs or services by job quality components that are meaningful to worker

• # or $ allocated to availability of training/capacity building/awareness activities

• Conducting satisfaction surveys, interviews or other engagement efforts

• # or $ allocated to availability of mentoring and development resources

• # or $ allocated to educating employers (e.g., funding and staff time) on worker empowerment practices

Use of Choice

It is Consistently and Equitably Used?

• Attendance at training/capacity building activities and next steps taken as a result

• Encouraging participation in qualitative data collection approaches, without fear of repercussion and creating safe spaces to address imbalances of power

• Usage trends of mentoring and development resources

Achievement of Choice

It is Accomplishing Desired Result

• Increase in $ allocated to empowerment activities or paid to target group for their expertise/insights

• Increase in representation of target group in program development, implementation and evaluation

• Changes in employment trends - Entered Employment Rates, Retention Rate, Voluntary Turnover Rate and Costs, Absenteeism/Call Outs, improvements in productivity rate

• Formalized regulations, policies and norms governing empowerment as part of organizational culture and management approach

Tips for Measuring

  • Equity should be centered in your approach, this includes considering what and how data is collected, protected and disaggregated.

  • Message carriers matter – partner with representative individuals in meaningful ways to collect data.

  • Invest in skill building so that participants/workers can actively participate in the co-design and implementation of each stage of the work.