Inclusion 3.0 and the Critical Role of Measurement


Since its founding in 2012, Included has worked with more than 500 organisations to create positive, inclusive impact. We have written three books on building inclusive organisations, more than 300 articles, and have worked with over 20,000 executives and employees. 

As the case studies in this report show, we help organisations reframe inclusion as something that benefits their outputs and impact. We call this approach ‘Inclusion 3.0’. One of the most common, and most critical, challenges we have found during this time is helping organisations to truly understand the distinction between diversity and inclusion. As well as other critical concepts such as equality, equity and belonging, we need to ensure both are applied successfully. 

Diversity is a social and ethical imperative, but not necessarily an end game. Leveraging diversity successfully requires ensuring the organisation and its employees are being as inclusive as possible – that employees of all backgrounds and demographics feel comfortable bringing their entire selves to work. It’s about people having a sense of belonging, and feeling respected, valued and seen for who they are.

In other words, diversity is about getting the right mix of people, with the right skills and competencies. Inclusion is about making sure the mix we have works. 

It is only in those organisations that are both diverse and inclusive that these positive outcomes can be realised, and those benefits can be substantial. Inclusive and diverse organisations are more productive, generate more revenue, perform better on problem-solving and strategy tasks, think more creatively, are better at negotiating, and make enhanced decisions. Additionally, employees at these organisations report feeling increased engagement, motivation, trust, and well-being in the workplace.

In our view, many organisations have become adept at measuring diversity, but very few are adequately measuring inclusion. Our Inclusion Diagnostic tool (the ‘ID’), which we have introduced to many global clients over the last three years, measures inclusion. It’s the level of inclusion in an organisation that determines the success of any D&I programme in the medium to long term.

Most organisations undertake engagement surveys and pulse surveys that offer limited insights and little that is actionable. A typical engagement survey may ask something like:

Do you feel this is an inclusive organisation?’ or
Do you think that your leaders role model inclusion?

The ID leverages insights from a thorough literature review of all the available research about behaviours that contribute to inclusion, and distils them into seven key areas of questioning. The ID instead tests critical behavioural aspects such as:

I am often interrupted in meetings’ or
I feel safe to offer a dissenting point of view’ or ‘
My ideas are often attributed to somebody else

In doing so, the ID determines those behaviours that contribute to, or detract from, greater inclusivity, cut by geography, function, demographic and other categories. This allows organisations to allocate resources to areas that will have most impact. This benefits all colleagues in an organisation, not just those who identify as a ‘minority’. However, by everyone gaining insights into behavioural adjustments they can make, it will disproportionately benefit those currently least included. The quantitative nature of inclusion measurement provides data to either support or refute anecdotal evidence. When paired with qualitative measures gathered through staff and stakeholder engagement, the ID provides an idea of behavioural and experiential trends across the organisation.

What have we found?

Over the last three years, we have refined the ID, testing it in 27 countries and 19 languages. Our consolidated inclusion measurement work reveals some fundamental indicators that organisations should be aware of when embarking on D&I work. These aspects have a material impact on organisational performance, affecting productivity and retention, turnover and cost.

Where a low level of psychological safety exists, it manifests in a fear of dissenting, fear of being marginalised, embarrassed, and fear of being authentic. A state of strong psychological safety enables individuals to feel safe to dissent, to contribute authentically, and ultimately to feel included.

When organisations launch interventions intended to build more inclusion, they often do so without the data of what behaviours are making people feel more or less included. As such, these interventions often miss the mark and end up not producing the intended results. However, if we can diagnose more precisely what is broken in the system, we can intervene in a more targeted way. This is the effect of the ID, and as a result we have found that interventions are more likely to produce real results.

01. Psychological safety

Psychological safety is the most important factor in what makes people feel included in an organisation.

02. Transparency

To better retain talent, organisations need to ensure transparency and objectivity in their performance and reward structures.

03. Micro— behaviours

Micro-behaviours, often unconscious, sometimes unnoticeable behaviours such as language, tone, and gestures, have a significant impact on various organisational outcomes including team effectiveness and perception of company values.

What’s next?

Now that we know many of the key aspects of what makes people feel included at work, we’re beginning to use theory from other areas of statistics like system dynamics to understand the interactions between interventions on separate behaviours. For example, if we design a sponsorship programme targeted at Black women as a way to increase the perceived transparency and objectivity of personnel decisions, how might this affect the psychological safety of disabled staff (or any other group)? These are questions we are starting to answer, and as this methodology becomes more prevalent, we will be able to understand even more precisely what works, for whom, and for how long.

Additionally, as organisations are able to integrate the inclusion data gathered from the ID with their workforce data analytics, we will be able to see how changes in inclusive behaviours have knock-on effects on broader internal equity issues like pay gaps, feedback delivery, and team allocation. This will also allow us to track the effect of interventions for inclusion internally on external equity issues like patient outcomes in medical centres, effectiveness of technical innovations for diverse groups, and publication rates for marginalised groups in academia.

Harvard Professor Iris Bohnet has often reflected that nothing was measured during the first 20 years of diversity training, so we couldn’t easily ascertain what was working and what wasn’t. But now, measurement of inclusion is advancing at a rapid pace. And at Included, we’re excited to be at the forefront of this work.

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