Diversity & Inclusion

D&I Don’ts: Benchmarking your level of inclusion

Evy Fellas

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Usually, when organisations get the results of an employee survey (measuring engagement, for example) the first thing they want to know is “are these numbers good?”.

But as every survey has slightly differently worded questions, they’ll often want to know how they compare to the benchmark. Obviously they want their score to be as high as possible but, for example, is it ever really possible to attain 100% engagement across your company? And if you did, would you believe it?  Probably not.

Benchmarks give us a way to say: “What score are companies similar to us getting?”, and give you an easier way to see how you’re doing and what to aim for.

You might think the same logic would apply for Diversity and Inclusion surveys – but that’s not actually the case. Here’s why:

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion all go hand in hand

We can’t just aim for high diversity, and not measure inclusion – and the reverse is true too. Some companies score high for inclusion just because the company has a fairly homogeneous population i.e. low diversity. Of course, people will feel included if everybody looks and acts the same.

Having high levels of diversity and inclusion is also not enough if you are not paying your female employees, employees from minority backgrounds, and those from other disadvantaged groups the same for equal work – so you need to be measuring and actively managing all three of these things.

You need to look at how different identities score for inclusion

Usually companies want to do our Diversity and Inclusion survey because they have some work to do around the topic, so their initial score may be low. Indeed, the average overall Inclusion score we see across all our survey data is between 60% and 70%. But while benchmarks can be helpful to put scores in context – and of course we see their appeal – they are inherently problematic, because we don’t know the diversity levels of the protected characteristics organisations are interested in.

The real question is: what level of overall inclusion would we be happy with in our organisation?  A 75% inclusion score may be above the benchmark, but are we ok with 25% of people not feeling included?

If we only compare our overall score with other companies’ results, we’re in danger of building a culture that works for the majority and not the minority – the opposite of what strong inclusion looks like.


Inclusion Guide


Comparing the ‘most’ and ‘least’ included people, in terms of their identities, can offer great insights

What if those who feel the least included are disproportionately people of colour, women and/or those with disabilities? Alternatively, imagine a company that has managed to cultivate a culture where everyone – regardless of their gender, ethnicity, age, orientation, or otherwise – feels like they belong and are included.

How do you expect the demographic makeup of the most included to be different to those who feel the least included? It’s simple: in a company that has a truly inclusive culture, you’d expect no difference. This is what we should all aim for when trying to create a culture of inclusion.

We should also look at each demographic group in turn, and see where there are the biggest disparities in scores which could indicate an area to focus our diversity, inclusion and equity strategic efforts on. For example, if there is a significant difference between the level of inclusion for our employees that identify as ‘white’ and our employees that identify as ‘black’, we know we have a problem.

Use language analysis to find the biggest issues, and who speaks about them the most 

One of our greatest assets at Qlearsite is our language analysis technology. It lets us analyse answers from open text questions like “What one thing should this organisation do to make you feel more welcome or included?”.

Our tech can take thousands of written responses and identify the top themes that are spoken about. For example, in response to the question above, one theme that often comes up is Promotions & Progression. If we take a closer look, we can see which specific demographic groups are talking more about this topic – and therefore, which groups this is more of an issue for, and what they’re saying.

In a diverse, equitable organisation with an inclusive culture, we wouldn’t expect significant differences between what different groups talk about.

Key takeaways:

  • Homogenous, non-diverse companies tend to score high for inclusion
  • Benchmarking inclusion scores is meaningless, as it doesn’t consider diversity levels
  • Organisations should consider what level of inclusion is acceptable – is 75% good, if 25% don’t feel included?
  • It’s misleading if you don’t measure inclusion (and diversity and equity) across teams, as well as the organisation as a whole

What you should do instead:

  • Compare the distribution of protected characteristics for the most included and least included groups in your organisation
  • Look at each demographic group and see where there are the biggest disparities in scores which could indicate what strategic efforts you should focus on
  • Use our language analysis to identify common themes to see what employees say could make the organisation more inclusive

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