How to measure inclusion and diversity in the workplace

Measuring inclusion and diversity can be challenging, but it will give you important data that can be used to drive real change within your organisation. Our Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, Carol Buchanan, explains the importance of measuring I&D and how our inclusion survey tool can be the first step in effective measurement of it.

Read on to learn more.

Are you taking action to become more inclusive, but not getting the results you expected? Are you struggling to measure inclusion in your organisation?

There are growing levels of unrest in the I&D space where marginalised groups are calling out their organisation’s approaches as performative and lacking substance and impact.

When we measure how much diverse talent we have or how diverse talent is moving through our organisation we are measuring diversity. Measuring this way is an important starting point to understanding your organisational makeup, and tracking changes. Yet, it fails to give a meaningful measure into why.

  • Why don’t we reflect our customer base?
  • Why aren’t we attracting more diversity?
  • Why are we losing diverse talent?
  • Why aren’t we seeing more diversity in senior roles?

While diversity is measurable and those numbers can help you identify trends and issues, the diversity numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. They won’t answer your ‘why’. And without your why, you don’t have a steer on how to effectively course correct.

The importance of measuring inclusion in the workplace

Diversity and inclusion measures are crucial to seeing the impact of the work you’re doing, or where you need to improve.

The evidence is in – inclusion is a key driver of organisational performance. It underpins the environment needed to benefit from diverse thinking and backgrounds. But it can be challenging to measure:

Whilst inclusion is fundamental to business performance, it’s always been hard to objectively define because it relates to emotions, thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

Qlearsite, 2022

One way to measure inclusion is to identify the differences in the lived experience of employees in marginalised groups compared to those in majority groups. Understanding those differences can lead you towards the right inclusion growth interventions for your organisation.  

Every I&D professional will tell you there’s always lots to do. The tricky part is choosing what to do to have the biggest impact.

Gathering measurable insight into why marginalised groups aren’t thriving as well as majority groups will inform better I&D choices. Particularly as most organisations have limited I&D resources available.

Also, taking action that doesn’t deliver meaningful change can have unintended consequences.

Majority groups might feel lots of time is being invested in inclusion and diversity which they don’t see as benefiting them, and marginalised groups get disengaged as they see actions as performative. A lose, lose scenario. 

How to measure inclusion in the workplace

There are several ways to quantify employee voice and understand inclusion measurement.

If you have good diversity demographic data, you can apply this to existing listening strategies – like using it to categorise feedback from an engagement survey or pulse surveys. This is a good approach to getting high-level insight, but it can lack depth.

Focus groups can bring depth by listening to employee feedback directly. They need a solid structure to objectively sort and prioritise feedback. When using this approach, it’s important to ensure that you don’t assume the feedback of one or two represents the feedback of many.

Triangulation is a good method to add rigour, where a theme is only included when it has been raised three or more times.

Explore the Inclusive Employers inclusion survey tool

At Inclusive Employers , for the best measure of inclusion, we recommend an approach that allows for the highest levels of engagement across different groups as its starting point, which is why we have developed an anonymous inclusion survey tool.

With our inclusion survey tool, you will gain insight across both protected and non-protected characteristics and the tool can be tailored to your organisation’s priority areas.

You will receive an inclusion survey output report, that comes as a single, easy-to-read table, which highlights the differences found.

Find out more about our Inclusion Survey tool.

Listen to what your organisation is saying

Once the survey findings are in, focus groups are a great way to dig deeper and explore the root of the lived experience differences and gather employees’ own ideas for change.

This dual approach represents the employee voice much more effectively that speaking to a small number of people from a diverse group.

Understanding the barriers to effective inclusion measurement

Trust is a big issue in gathering inclusion and diversity data.

Given that most organisations become whiter, more neurotypical, non-disabled, straight, and male, as roles become more senior, it isn’t surprising that people feel hesitant to share any information that highlights their difference.

Add a lack of role models to the very real experience of bias many face, and it’s a recipe for low disclosure rates.  

There are ways to overcome these barriers and build trust. A big factor is clarity about what you will do with the data, and how it will be used. Also, assurances of privacy help.

Using an external organisation to provide anonymity can be helpful in creating an environment where people feel safe to share.

What to do after measuring inclusion in the workplace

Getting your outcome is the first step when using our inclusion survey tool.

A few more steps are needed to ensure you’re investing time in the right places to deliver change. Once you have the outcome of your work the first job is to do any further clarification. Explore any gaps that the survey highlights. This will be dependent on your organisation’s results. Here are some examples:

  • Do South Asian employees feel less able to be themselves in the operational team?
  • Do women find the career progression process less transparent than men?
  • Do disabled employees feel less supported to develop their skills?

Explore those gaps and deepen your knowledge of the organisational behaviours or barriers behind them.

Once you understand the barriers, engage impacted groups and anyone with specialist skills (like your Inclusive Employers account manager) to help you think through the right approach.

Then you can get to work, safe in the knowledge that your efforts are underpinned by solid insights.

How Inclusive Employers can help inclusion measurement

Our inclusion survey tool is one way we can support your organisation to measure inclusion. It quantifies inclusion by identifying the differences in lived experiences across majority and marginalised groups.

Consider an accreditation in workplace inclusion

Our inclusion accreditation, the Inclusive Employers Standard, measures the effectiveness of your I&D practices against the six pillars of inclusion. As part of the process participating organisations receive a detailed feedback report and the option of a face-to-face meeting, including practical advice to progress your inclusion work.

Explore training and consultancy

The experienced team at Inclusive Employers can also support with focus groups, policy and practice review, consultancy, and benchmarking as you use the results of inclusion measurement to implement positive change. These options can also be added to the inclusion tool survey package.

Become an Inclusive Employers member

Inclusive Employers’ membership will support you with every step of your inclusion journey, from measuring inclusion through to using the results to create change.

Members have a dedicated account manager and free access to webinars, resources and more.

For Inclusive Employers members’

If you are a member, speak to your account manager for guidance on best practice approaches to inclusion and diversity measurement.