During one of my recent workshops, someone asked ‘How do we know we’ve achieved ‘inclusion’? Whether you’re in a community setting or a business organization, we often wonder the same thing. While we know the only way to improve something is to measure it, formulating meaningful metrics can be tricky. This is especially true when it comes to measuring things that are not easy to quantify, like ‘inclusion’.
Since diversity management is more concrete and driven by compliance requirements, most top companies have good and accurate metrics to gauge the impact of their diversity initiatives. On the other hand, measuring the effectiveness of inclusion practices can be a challenge because it involves less tangible elements like culture, behaviors and perceptions.
Avoid Using Generic Measurement Frameworks
So, how do we measure inclusion? As leaders looking to improve our organizations, we are often compelled to use the latest best-in-class framework/metrics to measure the impact of our initiatives. For measuring organizational inclusion, many leading frameworks contain metrics built around ‘employee engagement’, ‘enablement’ and other performance factors.
While implementing one of these ready-made frameworks may seem like a quick and simple solution, there are drawbacks to this approach. By using an ‘off-the-shelf’ generic framework that is not customized to the characteristics and needs of your organization, we risk implementing metrics that are meaningless to our people. These metrics become more like an administrative exercise than a tool to engage and motivate our teams. Why? Because depending on who you talk to, the concept of ‘inclusion’ can mean different things.
Not Everyone has the Same Definition of Inclusion
For example, according to a recent study by Deloitte, millennials have a different definition of diversity and inclusion than their older non-millennial counterpart. Millennials defined inclusion as ‘teamwork’, ‘business impact’ and a culture of ‘connection’. And, non-millennials defined inclusion as ‘fairness of opportunity’, ‘equity’, ‘integration’ and ‘acceptance & tolerance’. Other studies show that national culture also influences how we define, perceive and experience inclusion.
Since the definition of inclusion can vary among individuals, instead of using an off-the shelf measurement framework with a generic definition of inclusion, we should custom design a measurement framework that is meaningful to everyone in our organization. How do we do this, and where do we start?
Start by knowing what ‘Inclusion’ means to Everyone in your Organization
When designing metrics of any kind, we tend to use a top-down approach. We consult our most senior leaders in defining what we want to measure and then we push those metrics down, often forgetting to validate them with the people who do the work. When this happens, we design metrics that have little impact on employee engagement and performance. The same applies when trying to formulate meaningful metrics for measuring inclusion.
Use a ‘Grassroots’ Approach in Defining Inclusion
The key is to use a ‘grassroots’ approach and involve your people and key stakeholders in defining what inclusion means to them. Having a definition of inclusion that is meaningful to everyone is the first step to creating a framework with powerful metrics that are fully customized to your organization’s needs. Most importantly, by involving everyone in the definition phase, you will gain their buy-in for adopting the new set of metrics.
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