Diversity & Inclusion

How to Measure Inclusion in Your Organisation

Fred Gulliford

How to measure inclusion in your organisation

  • Whilst inclusion is fundamental to business performance, it’s always been hard to objectively define because it relates to emotions, thoughts, feelings and attitudes of the workforce.
  • Workforce analytics must find ways to accurately measure inclusion in conjunction with diversity statistics.
  • Using organisational science, we explore how these difficulties can be overcome.

There’s an age-old saying: ‘The act of weighing a pig doesn’t make it heavier’. This jibe serves as a warning to those who see measurement alone as the most important thing to improve performance.

The act of weighing a pig doesn’t make it heavier. But the data gathered can be used to better inform future actions, like changing the pig’s diet. So the initial act of measurement isn’t futile, but the first step towards improvement.

baby pig eating

As workforce analytics becomes more sophisticated, so does our ability to measure variables and create metrics. Organisational and data sciences have enabled us to capture, quantify and track key business metrics, but the advancement of such tools also creates two big problems:

  • Extrapolating these techniques incorrectly and thus providing inappropriate metrics.
  • The inability to interpret and action the insight derived from the data.

We have to be really clear about what impact we are trying to make through measurement. Critically, measurement should always precede analysis, inform insight and ultimately determine action.

Measuring inclusion

Inclusion poses a difficult challenge for business leaders because it is very difficult to systematically calculate that which is invisible. The feeling of not being included can often be the result of our unconscious biases. These are often yet subtly displayed through our behaviours and interactions (e.g. being less expressive, body language, joking/laughing less).

We generally have good intentions, but our biases can sometimes be interpreted as malicious or detrimental to others. The dilemma is that these biases are often unconscious, and our lack of awareness contributes to an environment where these negative influences guide our behaviours and interactions.

Becoming conscious of the unconscious

If inclusion is an outcome, employee feeling, bias and sentiment are all inputs that we must measure to assess the level and depth of inclusion within organisations. We must become conscious of the unconscious in order to help make an environment which is inclusive for all employees.

To measure these inputs we need to find superior ways of asking employees and colleagues how they feel. Language is crucial to the effective communication of feelings and expressing complex thoughts. Until recently it has not been possible to systematically transform vast quantities of language into something quantifiable, without bias or limitation – though it offers the best measure of inclusion.

Quantifying the intangible requires a transformed approach to analysis that has been made possible – our advanced language analysis tech solves this problem. Too often we confine employees to continuums or checkboxes. Instead, ask people open-ended questions in employee surveys to describe their working lives.

We collect what your people say and feel, group their responses into themes, and evaluate how strongly positive or negative the sentiment is. This process transforms complex experiences into a simple measure of inclusion – one that can be compared from one business to another.

Organisational barriers to measuring inclusion

Part of the problem with improving inclusion in organisations is that much of management thinking has been borne out of a manufacturing environment, where the interdependencies are far clearer. For instance, in a factory making complex products, each worker is dependent upon the people upstream and downstream. Defects in one process result in substandard, rejected products. Mistakes are far more visible, and non-compliance with standards is obvious to all involved.

But in a service-based environment, people are doing tasks that are not obviously related. There can be no obvious consequences of action or inaction, which means problems go unnoticed for a long period of time. It’s only when a crisis emerges does the issue become apparent.

That lack of oversight has led to inclusion being overshadowed in the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) conversation. Diversity is the dominant issue in the debate as it can be easily measured. It’s a headcount along one dimension: a visible manifestation of different groups of people in an organisation. Inclusion, however, is the invisible evidence behind how an organisation operates, and how people develop dependencies.

Understandably, many organisations struggle to analyse and benchmark to the same deeper level of understanding. The point is they are trying to measure diversity and inclusion in the same way, which is wrong.

Qlearsite’s Diversity & Inclusion Solution

In today’s world, taking diversity and inclusion measures is more important than ever. Not only is it top of mind for your employees, but it’s also tangibly linked to productivity and profitability. It makes business sense, and moral sense – so we created a solution to help with measuring inclusion effectively.

Qlearsite’s Diversity & Inclusion solution is the most sophisticated metric to understand inclusion. Our Smart Reader understands, analyses, and groups 1000s of pieces of employee feedback, uncovering pain points and areas to improve, gathered from questions designed to get to the heart of the matter. It’s a better way of listening.

Faster, simpler surveys – get started for free 

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