In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the historic reckoning on racial justice over the summer, a higher focus than ever before has been placed on inclusivity in the workplace. Companies are paying more attention to not only the diversity of their employees, but also whether those employees feel valued, regardless of their identities.
Inclusion is a great metric to focus on. Beyond being generally the morally right thing to do, better inclusion has numerous benefits to employee productivity and creativity. However, a non-inclusive workplace can be harder to identify than a non-diverse one, so deciding how to measure inclusivity is a critical part of any inclusion initiative.
Luckily, with the addition of a few simple questions and the right frame of analysis, almost any employee survey can yield the information needed to gauge inclusivity in the workplace.
What is Inclusivity?
Before figuring out how to measure inclusivity, it’s important to understand what it is. Inclusivity is closely tied to diversity, but, in many ways, it represents a deeper commitment to the ideas of fairness and equality in the workplace.
Where diversity involves bringing in employees from a wide variety of different backgrounds, inclusivity focuses on whether all of those employees feel valued and included at work. A workplace with employees from multiple racial backgrounds may be diverse, but if only white people can express their ideas or get promoted, it’s not inclusive.
The most common metaphor for the difference between diversity and inclusivity is that diversity is inviting everyone to the party while inclusivity is asking everyone to dance. A truly inclusive workplace makes all of its employees feel respected, important, and valued, regardless of their identities or backgrounds.
Why is Inclusivity Important?
So why bother ensuring that a company’s workplace is inclusive? First, it’s the right thing to do. Making sure that every employee feels valued is an essential part of being a good boss and respecting other people as human beings.
Beyond that, however, are a myriad of tangible benefits to productivity, innovation, and communication. Workers who feel included and valued at their jobs are more likely to have higher morale and want to do their jobs better. An inclusive environment also encourages employees to give more feedback and suggestions, driving creativity by bringing in a wider range of perspectives. Additionally, inclusivity helps foster connections between employees and removes conversational barriers that could hinder communication. Overall, inclusivity creates a more cohesive, more vibrant workplace that is better for both individual employees and the whole company.
How to Measure Inclusivity
Inclusivity can be hard to check by just looking around because it depends very heavily on the perceptions and experiences of individual employees. The only real way to find out if a workplace is inclusive is to ask workers directly, either by talking to them one on one, or through the broader, easier, and less confrontational method of sending everyone a survey.
The most obvious solution to this problem is to create a survey (like the one available in the Diversity and Inclusivity Template Bank) that asks each employee for their feedback on workplace inclusivity, but there is actually an easier way. With the right questions and frame of analysis, any employee survey can be an inclusivity survey.
Changing a regular employee survey to an inclusivity survey is as simple as adding a couple demographics and identity questions during the survey design process and then filtering the results using answers to those questions while analyzing the data. This allows an analysis of whether those demographic and identity factors are affecting employee experience at the company, which is a pretty good indicator of inclusivity. Say, for example, that a survey about employee happiness returns generally high results overall but significantly lower results when looking at only black respondents. This means that there is probably an inclusivity problem and that it would be beneficial to follow up with black employees to find out why they do not feel as happy at work.
Any survey can be examined in this manner to see if results are similar across identity categories or if specific groups feel worse about coming to work. This is an easy way to start an inclusivity initiative with the right data so the workplace climate can be improved for all employees.