Organisations massively into measuring diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are hot topics. Society is calling for more inclusion in the workplace, and many organisations are working hard to become (more) inclusive environments in response. More diversity and inclusion also creates business benefits: diverse, inclusive organisations achieve better financial results, have a higher capacity for innovation and are more attractive on the labour market compared to less diverse and less inclusive organisations.
This has led the vast majority of AnalitiQs’ clients to measure inclusion. Given the benefits of diversity and inclusion for society in general and business results in particular, this is obviously a positive trend.

The need to improve the measuring of diversity and inclusiveness

At the same time, however, AnalitiQs has noticed that there is still a lot to be desired in terms of how organisations measure diversity and inclusion. Below is an overview of common shortcomings:

  • Most of the times diversity focuses solely on age and gender
  • Inclusion is often still measured by asking a number of random questions as part of a (much too) lengthy engagement survey that recurs once or twice a year. This leads to overly imprecise measurement results and provides no certainty that inclusion is being measured in a valid manner.
  • Overall averages are being compared, e.g. for men and women, only to conclude that things are going well, while averages can be deceptive. To illustrate this, the data below – taken from an anonymised study – clearly shows that the sense of inclusion is fairly similar for men and women on an aggregate level (column “All – Total M-V”). However, when zooming in on senior management in Asia and Europe (second column 2nd and 3rd table), it becomes obvious that, in those regions, women in senior management feel considerably less included, which means that there is work to be done.
  • Finally, sometimes no target values are set. In other words, there is no way to determine which situation(s) can be considered ‘good’.

How to really make an impact on diversity and inclusion

Is your organization ready to choose resounding results over merely displaying a rainbow flag on the façade, sailing along at a pride event, including a D&I statement on the ‘working at’ page and including a few statements in an annual survey? If so, we recommend a shift towards a data-driven approach to D&I.

What does this approach entail? Below is a non-exhaustive list of actions that are important in all cases:

  • Measure support: find out whether there is sufficient support for D&I in the organisation.
  • Measure diversity: map more than just gender and age.
  • Measure Inclusion: use a validated construct to measure Inclusion.
  • Hold a thematic survey: use a specific D&I survey to include the above elements.
  • Set target values: use the insights gained – as well as benchmarking if possible – to set targets.
  • Show the return on investment: use analytics to prove the added value of D&I.

Support for diversity and inclusion
Start by mapping the support base for diversity and inclusion among managers and employees. If there is too little support, increasing the support will be the starting point of any change strategy in the area of D&I. Here, too, our tip is not to let averages fool you; support among middle-aged white men who have been employed for several years and have reached a management position may vary from that among young women who have just started working.

Measuring diversity
Gender and age can be taken into account to measure diversity. In addition to these two standard dimensions, however, sexual orientation, gender identity and other specifics could be included to paint a complete diversity picture. See the image below for inspiration.

PDF) Research into finding a stable prognosis parameter for the detection  of students in need of guidance - Realization of equal opportunities  through a diversity-oriented study guidance
Source: Diversity Charter by Karay, Y., Hallal, H., & Stosch, C. (2018). 

Privacy and privacy legislation (GDPR) are often cited as obstacles to including the additional diversity aspects, such as cultural background and sexual orientation. While privacy issues indeed require extremely careful consideration, they are not necessarily showstoppers. With our partner organisations, we have identified two different routes for the inventory of diversity aspects:

  • the first route is based on a solid D&I policy/strategy in combination with voluntary recording (of these aspects) in the HR system;
  • the second route is based on anonymous (i.e. non-confidential) recording by a third-party partner.

Validated inclusion measurement

Rather than presenting well-intentioned but random statements to try and measure inclusion, more organisations should be using a validated construct of inclusion. A validated construct offers the benefit of actually measuring what you intend to measure. This improves the quality of the research and leads to valid insights/conclusions.

Using a thematic D&I survey

As mentioned, any serious approach to corporate D&I should answer at least three questions: “What is the level of support?”, “How diverse are we?” and “How inclusive are we?”.

And is your organisation seeking to monitor the progress on these questions, the study should be repeated once per year. Given the number of questions involved and the recurring character of the study, the most suitable instrument would be a thematic survey.
Alongside the three standard question blocks, three other aspects could be included in a thematic survey:

Showing the value of D&I through linking

Links can be established between inclusion and staff attrition, wellbeing and/or engagement by asking about the organisational outcomes inthe thematic survey, or by combining the thematic survey data with data from other surveys. These variables are often correlated: attrition rates are often lower among staff who feel included, for example, than among staff who don’t feel included. Establishing such links will help to persuade sceptics and turn D&I into a dire business necessity!

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  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Real-world impact by setting targets! 

By combining the scores on support, diversity and inclusion – perhaps including the response rate – it becomes possible to set integral D&I targets for various parts of the organisation.

Alternatively, D&I target setting can be achieved by using benchmark data. 

Setting a target and including it in the management target sheets leads to real-world action and allows your organisation to demonstrate that good intentions can actually make a positive impact. 

Download infographic Inclusie 2021 (DUTCH)

Ready to implement D&I? 

AnalitiQs is the #1 HR Analytics agency in the Netherlands. D&I is one of the areas in which AnalitiQs gained its reputation. It includes equal pay analyses, the analysis of bias in the recruitment funnel and the use of predictive models for male-female ratios in upper management, among other methods.

This article is written by:

Irma Doze

Irma Doze

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