How to figure out your D&I priorities and influence your leadership team to act

announcements d&i strategies Mar 19, 2020

Trying to improve Diversity and Inclusion in your company can be daunting - where do you start?

What is the right thing to do?

What will drive the best returns?

How can we overcome our own human bias?

But this doesn’t have to be the case. To create a high performing organisation, one that is diverse and inclusive, we first need to gather and analyse data, to understand the starting point.

Simply measuring representation statistics isn’t enough. We must be aware of the employee experience in order to really get to the bottom of how included your diverse workforce feels. To do this, it’s important to hear from employees and to understand the real-life working experiences of people from all backgrounds.

Metrics to understand both diversity and inclusion are key, after all, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

That is why we’ve teamed up with a leader in employee surveying - Qlearsite, to use their innovative Diversity & Inclusion Survey. This has been designed by organisational scientists to accurately understand diversity statistics and measures of inclusion, and pinpoint areas to improve.

The survey data gives you insights that can help better define how different groups are feeling across your workforce and identify meaningful actions to make them feel more included. With better data, we can carry out more informed and targeted interventions to help improve diversity and inclusion.

We are really excited by this partnership and we are keen to position the survey as the gold standard way of measuring D&I.


Why measure Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace?

For D&I to be taken seriously, it needs to be part of the company’s business strategy and overall planning process. The same rigour and scrutiny must be applied to D&I as you would to other functions such as marketing, customer service, finance etc. As a result, it needs to be measured and understood alongside other business KPIs.

Diversity is easy to break down into metrics—hiring numbers, promotion statistics, demographics. But many companies neglect the “I” part of “D&I” and risk alienating and disempowering their employees. Hiring people from underrepresented groups isn’t enough—those new hires need to feel safe and respected, and they need to genuinely believe they can have a successful career path at your company.

Whilst the very act of measuring D&I doesn’t improve diversity and inclusion itself, the data gathered can be used to better inform future action. The act of measurement should be considered as the first step towards improvement.


How to measure Diversity & Inclusion?

The trouble is, whilst diversity is relatively easy to measure (e.g.a simple headcount along a given dimension), inclusion is far more complex.

It is tricky because it is very difficult to calculate what is invisible.

Unlike diversity, inclusion is heavily rooted in employees’ individual experiences—which aren’t easy to monitor or quantify. And the perception of culture can differ dramatically from person to person. Leaders, for example, might see things differently than the people who work for them: Harvard Business Review found that 83% of executives think they encourage curiosity at work, but only 52% of employees agreed.

The only way to really understand inclusivity in your organisation is to turn it into a company-wide conversation. Using a Diversity & Inclusion Survey helps to do this. When trying to understand inclusion, the best thing you can do is ask your employees to express themselves in their own words.

Language is the best form of communicating feelings and expressing complex thoughts. What has not been possible to date though, is the ability to transform lots of open text feedback into something that informs action.

Qlearsite’s technology can do exactly that. By asking employees open-ended questions to describe their experience of work, we can collect what employees say and feel, group them into themes and evaluate their relative strength and sentiment.

By categorising themes in this way we can turn qualitative data into quantitative measures and take an objective view of what the key issues that diverse groups of employees are raising in their feedback.


Using data to help prioritise action and drive meaningful change

Once you’ve finished your D&I survey, you’ll be able to dig deeper into the various parts of your culture. Data tells a story and helps you to quantify what’s important to key groups in your workforce.

Much like maps, we use this data to help you understand where you are today, decide where to go next and most importantly ‘the route’ to take to achieve a better future for your employees tomorrow.

This is how best-in-class companies and employers develop a robust D&I strategy.

This is where we come in. Your dedicated D&I partner to help you lead meaningful change.

When you have an accurate understanding of your company culture, it’s time to go deeper into specific areas of focus. We can help you drill down into aspects of inclusion that are often problematic or confusing.

We help you to link your D&I strategy to business priorities and goals, prioritise actions to take in the short term and medium-term, and establish strategic KPIs to allow leadership to hold ongoing discussions on how D&I impacts business performance.

Our role is to also help you identify and build capacity with critical stakeholders and champions to drive the change alongside you.

We have experience of supporting our clients to develop strategies and programmes that:

  • Attract and empower underrepresented groups and help employees thrive
  • Retain and progress working parents and carers
  • Bring D&I into your internal and external messaging
  • Embed flexible and smart working into the culture and way of doing business
  • Create an interview process that makes diverse candidates feel welcome and embeds objectivity to hiring decisions
  • Elevate internal communities by setting up Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Set up mentoring and coaching programmes
  • Build capacity on unconscious bias and inclusive behaviours
  • Develop high performing teams
  • Track your diversity and inclusion success over time

A sustainable D&I strategy (see figure 1) is composed of many building blocks and it needs to have actions built-in across the whole system whilst focussing on the needs and priorities that the data highlighted.

Figure 1 - Sustainable D&I strategy

If you are at the very beginning of your D&I journey or stuck at a programmatic level (see figure 2 below), you need to help your leaders develop a more sophisticated understanding of inclusion and how this helps to leverage the diversity already in your business.

Our experience shows that using a D&I survey accelerates this understanding.

Figure 2 - D&I Maturity Model


Do you need to align your leadership team on the D&I actions you want them to invest in?


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