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How to measure diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Nick Basannavar, Social & Cultural Historian, Head of Consulting, Included

Nick Basannavar
Social & Cultural Historian, Head of Consulting at Included

On diversity data, some organisations are getting better at gathering current state ‘snapshots’ across major characteristics such as gender, age, ethnicity and race. Whilst these are critical, we need to start thinking about characteristics more broadly, factoring in sexual orientation, socio-economic difference, neurodiversity, and much more.

By accounting for the key recruitment, promotion and retention trends and forecasts, organisations can better understand what they will look like in three, five and ten years’ time.

Diversity is only one part of the picture, and very few organisations are adequately measuring inclusion. Most organisations undertake engagement surveys and pulse surveys that offer limited insights and little that is actionable. However, it is more effective to test concepts such as psychological safety, transparency and micro aggressions.

In this way we can pinpoint the behaviours that contribute to, or detract from, greater inclusion, cut by geography, function, demographic and other categories. This allows organisations to allocate resources to areas that will have the most impact.

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Anu Mandapati

Anu Mandapati
Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Leader and Executive Coach

Diversity is easier to measure than inclusion. Diversity data is usually collected during the hiring process. Diversity is about representation. There are over 30 dimensions of diversity. Most organizations, however, look at their data through one dimension of diversity such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability etc. We must look at the data through an intersectional lens to truly assess where we are, so we can then determine the necessary actions we will take to get to where we want to be. We must dig into the data to look at how these dimensions intersect and ask "Is there further marginalization in our organization?" Some intersectional examples include Black women, transwomen, men with a disability who identify as LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent Millennials. When we look at how these dimensions intersect we can better understand the experience of our employees and what we need to do to create a more inclusive culture for all.

Inclusion is usually measured through quantitative data from an employee engagement/satisfaction survey. While this method is most often used due to time efficiencies, many employees experience survey fatigue or some don't feel their survey responses will be truly confidential. This results in fewer people completing the survey. So creating opportunities to also hear qualitative feedback is important. Organizations can leverage confidential focus groups, small townhall listen and learn sessions, and smaller team meetings to hear anecdotal feedback. Combining both the quantitative and qualitative data can then provide a more holistic picture of how included your employees are feeling.

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Priya Radia, Included Associate Consultant

Priya Radia
Associate Consultant, Included

Collecting, analysing, and applying insights from data has become a key element of successful businesses in the past decade; similarly, it brings a number of benefits to a strong D&I programme.

Think about measuring data with regards to the past (to help assess which initiatives worked and which didn’t), the present (to assess where the current biggest gaps are to define more targeted interventions) and the future (to support setting time-bound targets that help track progress).

Measuring diversity can include basic demographics such as gender or ethnicity, but think about other non-mandatory characteristics such as cognitive diversity, or socio-economic background too. Diversity statistics alone will limit the comprehensiveness of interventions – measuring inclusion will give you an indication of how particular groups actually feel.

To measure inclusion, think about behaviours, your definition of culture, and capture elements such as perceptions of psychological safety, trust, and belonging.

When measuring either diversity or inclusion, give careful consideration to communications and phrasing of questions to make sure people feel comfortable disclosing sensitive information.

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Fiona Daniel - Founder, CEO, Non-Exec Director fd2i

Fiona Daniel
Founder, CEO, Non-Exec Director

There are the obvious things but the best measure as to how diverse and inclusive you really are, is to ask your people, all your people.

It is always a good place to start by asking yourself 'What are we wanting to move from and to?' 'What is your baseline?' Review your data both quantitative and qualitative. Surveys done well and communicated well are always useful to measure both diversity and inclusion.

The diversity survey should include how people identify across a range of characteristics where legally acceptable to do so. Inclusion surveys should focus on feeling like you belong, being able to speak up, promotions are fair, pay is fair, feeling respected, valued, supported etc.

Another tip is to take a view from your leaders too as often they get forgotten and they will see things differently than those they lead.

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Chelsea C Williams, Workplace & Career Strategist International Speaker Founder & CEO, College Code

Chelsea C. Williams
Workplace & Career Strategist, International Speaker, Founder & CEO of College Code

Diversity and inclusion must first be defined and universally understood before attempting to measure.

When measuring diversity and inclusion, organizations must consider quantitative and qualitative data part of the broader storyline.

Further, measurement should focus on outcomes & impacts over inputs and outputs, which may be perceived as "performative."

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