Why Diversity Alone Won’t Get Companies across the line.

By now, every leader worth their salt understands the importance of having a diverse leadership team and workforce. The business results from numerous studies shows a link between having a diverse workforce and leadership team and a company’s successful performance against its competitors in the market.

Hiring a diverse workforce, however critical, is just the first step – equity and inclusion are critical for the life cycle of employees at organizations.

Many companies are tackling Equity as the crucial second step – determining that regardless of race, gender and rank, that all employees are compensated and promoted in a fair and equitable manner.

But how can organizations measure Inclusion?

Inclusion ensures that employee’s feel recognized, valued and respected. Consider the Employee Value life cycle – and the amount of money, time and effort that goes into recruiting a diverse employee group. Even further, a second major infusion of time, money and effort goes into training employees once they get on board. To have employees reach a company, trained and then not feel included in important networks, decisions or discussions will have many quickly looking for other jobs where they can have a greater impact.

Ways to measure and gain context around inclusion:

Employee engagement surveys: These are great starting points to measure the “What and Who” when it comes to Inclusion metrics. 

Some organizations, such as Microsoft, recently unveiled their efforts to work on better inclusion by adding an “Inclusion Index” portion to their annual engagement survey, asking a series of scaled questions that their employees use to provide feedback on their perceptions of inclusion, authenticity and transparency. Hard data from your demographics around organization inclusion strengths and opportunities are critical as a first step of identification of focus areas for senior leaders.

But data alone only tells you there are areas of concern – which is using network analysis to measure inclusion is so vital.

Organization Network analysis (ONA): “The How and Why”. ONA deepens the analysis, provides context to the hard data, and furthers the inclusion conversation.

Take example company Mycroft Cancer Center. In recent years, Mycroft has shifted their blanket recruiting program to a more targeted approach in order to hire and retain a diverse talent set. What Mycroft struggled with was retention at the mid-levels of their organization with women. Even with industry leading policies around remote work and parental leave, there continued to be a continuous exodus of women at the middle management level. The leadership at Mycroft recognized that this was not just a loss of key experience, but a rapidly dwindling diverse internal pool for senior level promotions.

Mycroft decided to run a two month network analysis study focused on inclusion measurements to try and ascertain leading causes for the low scores and departures.  Almost immediately, one item became glaringly apparent: there was a significant difference in how women at the mid-level judged their inclusion in internal communication and decision networks at Mycroft, versus other demographics.

The network analysis mapped the decision networks, i.e., who within the organization people felt that they reached out to to make a decision (both formally and informally) within Mycroft. Women at the mid-level had a dramatically lower ping rating from senior leaders than equally or less experienced men. Rather than this be an exclusionary practice from senior leadership, it was rather a unconscious network practice – men at the mid-level had stronger ties to senior executives, and women had broader ties at the mid-level (and below) within the organization. Regardless, it was having an unintended consequence of ensuring that an experienced portion of the population felt that they had no voice in the business affairs in the workplace, much less business changing impact, leading to a natural inclination to look for employment somewhere they could make a greater difference.

Unlike most employee engagement surveys, which are great for highlighting areas of concern, the network analysis was able to not just measure, but provide causal recommendations for how to address. The senior leadership at Mycroft took the results and decided to go a step further than implementing a mentorship program and started to intentionally partner senior executives on projects with specific team members to systemically increase familiarity across expertise levels. 

Key demographic feedback sessions: whether anonymous interviews or confidential small group sensing sessions, understanding employees frustrations or challenges around inclusion, directly from the employee, helps solve a couple things. 

  1. Allows the employee to provide first hand feedback to leadership – and understand that the leadership values their feedback
  2. Provides great context on not just concerns – but specific ways it’s impacting business – you can start seeing the monetary ROI for addressing these issues.

In the battle for talent, companies also know that people entering the workforce want to work in a company that reflects who they are and be passionate about a company’s stance on social issues. They read reviews of companies, mine Glassdoor to understand employee’s personal stories about an organizations culture. Having a way to measure and gain context around the retention of you workforce will pay out in dividends.