Diversity & Inclusion

New to a Diversity & Inclusion role? Listening is key to your strategy

Lydia Watson

For organisations across the world, having an inclusive culture that leverages the diversity of its people has never been more important. Companies who foster inclusion enjoy higher productivity and profitability, and are able to meet rising expectations from employees for a fairer, more equitable workplace. It is as much a strategic priority as a moral one.

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Diversity & Inclusion roles are on the rise – in the last five years, there’s been a 71% increase in D&I positions worldwide. And beyond that, many HR professionals are having to make it a new focus of their existing role. Many internal employees and leaders are appointed into these roles because they are familiar with the products, markets and culture of their business but the learning curve can be steep. So how do you start from scratch?

Your D&I strategy should put inclusion first – and that means listening

What’s the difference between diversity and inclusion? ‘D&I’ has been so established as a concept, it’s easy to forget. Diversity is, by and large, easier to measure. One business’s workforce may be 40% men, 40% women, and 20% other gender identities – for example.

But inclusion is a feeling, not a hard-and-fast fact. Measuring and improving how included a particular group feels involves listening, understanding, and acting.

Ways of listening: ERGs, focus groups, and surveys

The easiest way to make your organisation more inclusive is to find out where the issues lie. And it’s the people in protected groups that can tell you that – even if it’s hard to hear. That means your first step is choosing a way to gather that crucial feedback, and there are a few options to choose from:

Employee resource groups

Groups of employees with a shared identity, who meet voluntarily to discuss challenges they face and ways of combating this within their organisation.

  • Pros: ERGs provide a safe space to share experiences and advice, promoting the feeling of belonging for minority groups within an organisation
  • Cons: as a voluntary and unfunded activity, if leaders rely solely on ERGs to build strategy then it can put unnecessary pressure on groups who already need support

Focus groups:

A representative sample of employees are selected, and placed in a group with a facilitator to ask questions and lead a discussion to collect useful feedback.

Employee surveys:

An anonymous or confidential survey is sent to all employees, asking them questions about their feelings of inclusion to uncover the experiences of different groups.

  • Pros: if you ask the right questions and make it clear the survey is confidential, you’re more likely to get open and honest answers – so you get to the real issues
  • Cons: you need a way to deal with 100s to 1000s of survey responses, and understand the bigger picture – plus a way to apply those insights to make change happen

The good news with that last ‘con’? We can help you with collecting and understanding those insights – and organisations like Thriving Talent show you what to do with them.

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How our surveys can lay the groundwork for your D&I strategy

1. Language insights to identify priorities: creating an inclusive workplace will take time, so it’s about identifying the most important first steps to take. We make it easier by:

  • Using a colour-coded grid to show you which areas need attention
  • Uncovering common themes people discuss, using language analysis
culture

2. Create different strategies for different groups: it’s likely you need to consider the needs of multiple departments, branches, or countries. Our platform makes it simple to manage the data – so you can compare the results of different teams or demographics.

3. Get leadership backing, with data you can trust: with advanced analysis and deeper insights, you can present a D&I strategy based on reliable data – making it easier to fight your case in the boardroom or to the leadership team.

Listen, learn, act with Qlearsite and Thriving Talent

We’re working with Thriving Talent to help organisations reach their potential, by meeting their diversity and inclusion goals. Thriving Talent provides the D&I consultancy and training services you need to develop and implement your  D&I strategy – putting those listening insights to good use. Learn more about them here.

3 ways to be stronger

It’s time to start the conversation

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