Go beyond diversity, measure inclusion the right way

Steffi Maranan

Steffi Maranan

We’ve talked about diversity and inclusion in business before - it’s definitely a complex topic that needs discussion. To summarise, it’s easy to measure diversity from a statistical standpoint, but if you’ve got a diverse workforce who don’t actually feel included - you’re back to square one. So we thought we’d share our framework for inclusion, which helps us measure it effectively.

We define it this way:

Inclusion should allow everyone to be their authentic selves at work. Each person should feel they work in a fair environment, with balanced rewards based on merit and individual contribution. This should be balanced with flexibility for personal circumstances.

 

Measuring diversity is different to measuring inclusion

There’s a noticeable lack of depth when exploring the topic of inclusion, particularly at D&I events we’ve been to. Most organisations simply don’t have a meaningful way of measuring inclusion. People have a general sense of what inclusion is, but struggle to identify what experiences account for inclusion and how it can be measured.

We know, through our latest Organisational Fitness research, that if you’ve got diversity in the workplace and an inclusive working environment, it leads to stronger performance as a business.

Download our research into Organisational Fitness across 2000 UK companies

Specifically, creating an inclusive culture helps to improve customer service, profitability and growth. While business performance shouldn't be the main reason for improving diversity and inclusion efforts, we’ve often found that an economic argument helps you create a business case. That way, you can get stakeholders and senior leaders to invest in a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy.

First and foremost, the start of any strategy is to set goals and objectives around what you are trying to improve. If you are not measuring both diversity AND inclusion properly (or at all) then any strategy that you make will never be particularly meaningful.

 

How to measure inclusion

Inclusion is notoriously difficult to measure because it's an intangible concept. Feeling included is subjective and can be the result of our unconscious biases displayed in our interactions and behaviours (e.g. body language, facial expressions, laughing and joking more/less).

To improve diversity, we need to measure it. We need to find a way of understanding these interactions and accurately capture how employees feel. As simple as it may sound, asking a Diversity & Inclusion survey with plenty of open text answers will give you lots of insight into the employee experience in your organisation. Language is the best form of communicating feelings and complex thoughts. However, it can be difficult to turn vast quantities of language data into something quantifiable, without bias or limitation.

Fortunately, technology now allows us to do this. Using the latest employee language analysis, you can automatically categorise their answers into themes and their relative sentiment. This means you can transform complex feelings into quantifiable themes that you can finally start to measure. See below for an example of how employee language analysis can categorise the following employee response into 3 distinct themes that can be counted.

NLP-1

Tracking and understanding inclusion - A framework you can use

To help make sense of this data, we’ve also developed an inclusion framework which shows 4 definitions and examples of inclusion. Once you think about inclusion in this sort of detail, you can start to identify ways to improve equality at work, as well as what you can celebrate within your company. The framework is part of our wider Diversity & Inclusion survey and analysis, but these 4 definitions should be helpful to get started.

 

 

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(Qlearsite Inclusion Framework)

Safety & Access

Everyone has equal access to the facilities and resources of an organisation, feel safe at work and pursue their career without fear.

In action:  Do underrepresented groups have the same access to senior leadership mentoring opportunities? Do people with mental or physical disabilities have equal access to resources? Do LGBTQ employees and/or transgender employees feel psychologically and physically safe to identify as they are?

 

Trust & Fairness

Everyone has confidence that processes and procedures can be trusted and that leaders or those in authority will act appropriately, without bias.

In action:  Are promotions and rewards based on unbiased measures of merit? In disputes will employees be treated fairly and without bias? Do you have inclusive leadership?


Acceptance

Everyone can be their authentic selves and work in a fair, meritocratic environment with balanced rewards that are not influenced by identity.

In action:  Are all faiths welcomed equally or do some workplace rituals make it more difficult for some faiths to feel accepted? We’ve seen cases where certain religions have felt left out, but it’s not because of an organisational issue. It’s because when they get breakfast, the caterers are quite unadventurous and everything’s got pork in it.

 

Belonging

Everyone feels valued in an inclusive workplace, that all identities are celebrated and their organisation embraces differences.

In action: Do all employees feel at home or do some groups feel less comfortable than others?

 

Inclusion goes far beyond a tick-box exercise of hiring employees from different backgrounds to reach quotas. The journey to an inclusive organisation starts with a better understanding of what the measures are, which can be transformed into meaningful actions. But you always have to start with an honest assessment of your environment.

By using our dynamic framework, our clients have been able to accurately assess areas of strengths and opportunities to improve when it comes to inclusion within their organisation.

Our measurements go beyond employee engagement surveys and quantitative results (which is captured within each dimension). Our advanced Natural Language Processing tool is able to bring to light key themes around inclusion that are meaningful to your employees. You have the ability to add context and colour to the variation in scores, and understand why a particular group have scored the way they have.

 

 

Topics: Diversity & Inclusion

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