How Inclusive Is Your Organization?
Is your organization inclusive? We hear a lot about companies needing to be diverse and inclusive not because it is the right thing to do but because the right thing to do is the best thing for business. There are several studies that have shown that diverse and inclusive companies outperform those that are less diverse. For example, a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue due to innovation. A Gallup study found that employees in an inclusive environment are more engaged, demonstrate higher advocacy for their organizations, and have a greater intent to stay.
Understanding Diversity and Inclusion
So now that the case for diversity and inclusion has been made, here’s the question again: Is your organization inclusive? There is a reason the terms diversity and inclusion are used together. Diversity is about the numbers of men AND women, people of color AND Whites, millennials AND baby boomers and so on. Inclusion is about the engagement of those diverse groups. It doesn’t do an organization well to have great diversity and poor inclusion. In fact, organizations that have “great” diversity with poor inclusion end up with poor diversity or a revolving door where the numbers are good but the numbers that matter (the bottom line) have not been maximized.
You should be able to easily tell if your organization is diverse, and this is more than an eye test. The actual diversity of employee statistics will inform you if there is a high or low level of women in your company. However, it is not as easy to tell if your organization is inclusive. Many companies leave measuring inclusion to an eye test or what we call the “I feel like” test. Individuals in the company might assert “I feel like” my company is inclusive. As a manager, they might say “I feel like” I’m fair and “I feel like” I invite all my employees to participate. It is common for companies to inform employees about the numbers around diversity. These companies will tout their successes and challenges in the area of diversity and are honest as to what they need to improve in that space – that’s great! However, most of us have no clue about the real level of inclusiveness in our organization. But don’t be naïve, your employees talk about it every day.
Inclusion Is More Than What You See
It has been said that diversity is being asked to the party while inclusion is being asked to dance. This is a simple illustration of the difference between the two. One can easily count how many people came to the party but it is harder to determine if they all were asked to dance or were dancing. Many of us have attended a party where we thought it was the best party ever but that was how we felt. We didn’t notice that there were people who didn’t have a good time. We didn’t notice the people who were not asked to dance or only danced by themselves. They were at the party but didn’t feel part of it. This is true in many organizations today – individuals have been invited to the organization but haven’t been invited to actively and passionately participate. Organizations can no longer continue to use the eye test or the “I feel like” test to assess inclusion. It is imperative that organizations begin to measure their inclusiveness especially given the direct impact on performance and the bottom line.
In Part Two of this discussion, we’ll delve a bit deeper into inclusion and its relationship to engagement.
Also, don’t forget to join us for “More Than A Feeling: How Measuring Inclusion Improves Organizations” on Thursday, February 27th from 11:00 am to Noon CDT, for an open conversation about elevating diversity through measuring inclusion.