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Diversity is now a pivotal strand of business strategy, regularly discussed at board meetings, team events and even product pitches.

It is also a topic often discussed at networking events and seminars, including at this month’s ‘CultureScopeClub’ forum. This quarterly event, hosted by iPsychTec and Chaired by Paul Bennett of Lloyds Banking Group, is attended by practitioners working in Audit, Risk,  Compliance, Transformation D&I Strategy and HR, representing global businesses across a range of industries.

This post captures some of that discussion, which explored current approaches towards D&I with regards to the importance of values and behaviours, building it into your organisational narrative and, despite the title of this post, the critical role of data.

Getting caught up in the numbers

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers game when discussing diversity and inclusion (D&I). While it’s necessary for companies to focus on improving their ‘D’ an over-focus on representation without addressing culture will fail to harness the potential of diverse organisations.

As our Chief Behavioural Scientist Hani Nabeel stated, “We often chase for diversity, but it loses its meaning. What we need to focus on is inclusion, and that comes from how people behave across the organisation.”

An analogy one of our speakers used to illustrate this point was to consider Diversity as “the top rung of a step ladder”; you must first climb up the earlier rungs which are ‘psychological safety’ and then ‘inclusion’. In other words, if you want to truly achieve diversity in your business, focus your efforts on creating a psychologically safe environment and then identify and embed other behaviours which are underpinning a culture of inclusion. Only then will hiring and talent management practices enable your D&I strategy and unlock an abundance of improvements for your business and people.

Some questions to consider here and, if possible, explore through people and data insights, are:

  • Does your organisation have a culture that encourages and fosters psychological safety, openness, and collaboration? How are you measuring this, and can you be fully confident in your colleague survey data if there are challenges around psychological safety and raising concerns?
  • Do you have a robust recruitment and onboarding process that introduces new employees to the business and their colleagues in a fair and inclusive way?
  • How are problems solved when they arise within teams, or in meetings, or around the water cooler? What is your approach to constructive criticism and feedback, both positive and negative?
  • Do your organisational values capture the importance of inclusion, and do you have clarity on the behaviours required to ensure everyone in the business embodies these values?
  • Are your leaders demonstrating the capability and desire to create psychological safety and inclusive experiences that can help to achieve true diversity?

‘Time to Act: The Power of Now’

This was the theme of this year’s National Inclusion Week. A powerful message, and one all businesses must take note of, with inclusion being a mindset and responsibility that needs to be driven from the top. And in this case, “the top” means you and me. Because having diverse representation in leadership roles is not enough, we need to make sure our company values are inclusive by nature and that every individual in the business role models, demonstrates, and ultimately experiences the right behaviours.

Several practitioners spoke about the work they’ve being doing on building a stronger narrative around what inclusion means to their businesses. One brought the business together to co-create a set of values, each of which were underpinned by behavioural research using the unique CultureScope diagnostic tool. The behavioural data and predictive power of the analytics enabled them to understand which behaviours were key to driving a culture of inclusion and highlighted the extent to which these behaviours are currently present across the organisation.

Tamara Box EMEA head of Reed Smith, a long time and renowned practitioner in this space explained the foundation of their organisation values is the concept of diversity that goes beyond traditional strands to include cognitive diversity. This is a concept that is sometimes talked about but often overlooked in traditional D&I metrics! Inclusion is about being able to be yourself at work: There should be no expectation of fitting into an existing mould or conforming to someone else’s idea of what’s acceptable in terms of appearance or behaviour – because being different doesn’t mean being less valuable. We know diverse groups achieve better results in a range of challenges so instead of trying so hard to “fit in”, we should celebrate each other for who we are without judgement or bias.

Tamara’s other key message was the need for transparency when it comes to sharing the insight and building a story of diversity. How can we build trust and psychological safety if we aren’t willing to share the data collected and connect people across the business with what it means and what we are planning to do with it? Rather than getting bogged down in conversations about the nature and quality of the data, and being distracted by subjective views and ‘gut feel’ shouldn’t we be focusing on using the data to really understand what drives inclusion?

So, with transparency front of mind, what is our view?

Let data direct you, not distract you

Despite the title of this post, data and statistics are critical enablers – but they should not be the main goal. Shifting the focus from data that focuses on diversity as the outcome, to data that helps us create a culture of inclusion in which that diversity thrives, will bring a better balance to the debate.

Instead of focusing on lagging indicators like engagement surveys, that by their nature focus on perceived difference by demographic or diversity strands – we should look at what is actually driving a culture of inclusion.

Every culture is different. Cookie-cutter approaches often overlook this point because every organisation is at a different starting point. Looking across our CultureScope data set we have identified 7 behaviours that drive inclusion. Critically, these are the behaviours that people observe in and of the organisation rather than simply how they behave themselves. In one of those organisations, three behaviours were found to be significant drivers of inclusion. And this is where statistics can really help. We found that where colleagues see those behaviours in action they are (exactly!) 512x more likely to feel a valued member of the team. Embedding those behaviours is going to have a profound impact on inclusion within that business and make the world of difference when diverse talent is being onboarded into their role.

In Summary

While diversity is about people not numbers, the power of data and statistics is critical in focusing on the right debate. True diversity can only be harnessed in a culture that welcomes everyone and enables them to express who they are and fulfil their potential within the organisation. It’s about having a team dynamic where people feel they can work with anyone in the workplace. And it’s about leadership—we need leaders who understand what their role means in making sure everyone feels like they belong on the team so we can get better results for our company and customers alike.  To use a gardening analogy, plants only thrive in fertile soil.

Connecting those behaviours to inclusion data and key company and customer metrics will help us all tell the most powerful stories as to why inclusion matters, and why it is time to act, now.

How are you measuring inclusive behaviours? Let us know your thoughts and share your experiences by leaving a comment; and if you are a leader keen on participating in our next ‘CultureScopeClub’ forum, do get in touch with us.

Finally, if you want to hear more about CultureScope and how it is has been used to enable organisations to make their desired culture a reality, then reach out and we can schedule some time for a quick conversation.

About CultureScope

CultureScope, powered by iPsychTec, is a ground-breaking and scientifically validated approach to behavioural and cultural measurement. It is based on the largest ever behavioural research study over a 7-year period, with over 51,000 participants in 61 countries across 60 organisations and supported by 3 leading business schools. It quantifies the culture of an organisation using revolutionary diagnostics, by assessing individual and organisational behaviours (how do I behave and what do I observe around me) and linking these with organisations’ outcomes to provide advanced predictive analytics, actionable business insights, and a road map to enable organisations to understand, change, and embed their desired organisational culture.

Hani Nabeel

Hani Nabeel is the Chief Behavioural Scientist at iPsychTec, a world leading People Analytics and Behavioural Science company. Hani has over 20 years’ experience in delivering Leadership & Talent Management Consulting services and quantitative behavioural research. He is the architect and founder of the award winning and ground-breaking CultureScope behavioural analytics platform for scientifically measuring and embedding organisation’s desired culture using predictive analytics and actionable insights.