By Inclusion Analytics
It is impossible to understand the true impact of DEI practices without examining how employees experience the workplace. This blog will cover the measurement of employee perceptions in two parts: perceptions of policies and practices and perceptions of the inclusion culture.
Perceptions of policies and practices
Any leader or taskforce member can probably tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than putting in a ton of work and money creating a program, policy, or resource to later find out that nobody knows it exists or, even worse, to find out it is having a negative effect on the intended beneficiaries. Asking employees some basic questions regarding the policies and practices organizations have implemented can illuminate whether they are having their intended impact. We will use the example of Employee Resources Groups.
First, ask employees: Do you know whether your organization has Employee Resource Groups? If employees respond no to the question, the organization likely just needs to increase communication around the Employee Resource Group including the purpose of the group and who should consider joining. As with most gaps in knowledge, communication and education may be the solution.
Second, ask employees: Do you feel supported by your Employee Resource Group? If employees respond no to the question, we know the resource is not having the intended impact. Communication may not be the solution to this challenge; instead, the structure, goals, and practices of ERGs may need to be examined.
Perceptions of Inclusion Culture
Finally, exploring your company’s inclusion culture can help identify whether the organizational culture is supportive and inclusive. Culture can seem ambiguous and hard to influence, so it may be helpful to think of more concrete elements that influence culture: belonging, exclusion, psychological safety, and fairness.
Belonging considers whether employees feel they are a valued and important part of the organization. In contrast, exclusion focuses on feelings of being left out, for example, of important meetings or social functions. Fairness metrics examine employees’ belief that the same rules apply to everyone, and psychological safety is the feeling that an employee can voice opinions and ideas without fear of negative repercussions.
Understanding employees’ experiences in these four areas allows leaders to develop – or perhaps better communicate – policies and programs to ensure the workplace is inclusive and welcoming for all workers. It is therefore critical to examine these four dimensions based on employee level and demographic information. Data may show that overall, employees feel positively about the inclusion culture, but different identity groups may have different experiences. For example, trans employees may feel like they have a psychologically safe environment to contribute their work-related input, but don’t feel like they can disclose an invisible identity. Knowing this information can identify the need to revisit policies such as norms around pronouns, healthcare, and more to ensure that all employees can show up to work as the person they truly are.
Understanding where your organization falls from both an intention and an impact standpoint helps identify the best next step forward. Using data in DEI efforts should help guide decision-making and action, not lead to continual data collection or analysis paralysis. Ensuring progress and accountability through measurement will help improve the workplace for all.
About Inclusion Analytics
Co-founders of Inclusion Analytics, Emily Adams and Laura Brooks Dueland, are both doctoral candidates in the Industrial/organizational Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Prior to the launch of Inclusion Analytics. Emily worked in post-secondary education administration, juvenile justice system reform, and behavioral health workforce development. Laura’s experience includes behavioral interviewing, promotional exam development, and human resources consulting in the areas of compensation and benefits. With research focus on validity and the execution of solutions aimed at reducing bias in the employee lifespan, both Emily and Laura aim to help organizations create a workplace that works for all.