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Inclusion Measurement - Tracking the Intangible

Inclusion Measurement - Tracking the Intangible

Eric Davis | i4cp

July 16, 2010

Diversity and inclusion are, in some ways, like peanut butter and jelly. They’re not the same but are often combined, making up a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts. So when i4cp – on behalf of its members-only Diversity Accelerator group – decided to look at inclusion metrics, we first had to carefully define, identify, and separate the two concepts.

In our Inclusion Measurement Survey, we started by finding out whether or not companies had inclusion initiatives and if initiatives were considered separately or in combination with diversity. Two-thirds of study participants reported inclusion as part of their people-management strategy, either in combination with diversity (47%) or as a separate talent-management initiative (19%). These numbers crept up only slightly among higher market performers. With this established, we asked them to focus specifically on inclusion, the more difficult to measure of the two.

Diversity is about variations and differences and, more often than not, refers to traits that are measurable. Sometimes diversity refers to a traditional compliance point-of-view that looks primarily at EEOC protected classes. Other times, it incorporates a broader definition that accounts for factors such as diverse experience, education and backgrounds. Either way, seeing how one individual differs from another and tracking those differences is, while challenging in practice, intellectually clear cut. Inclusion, however, is a much more amorphous affair.

Inclusion is what ties varied individuals together into a cohesive and productive whole. By far the most commonly cited definition for inclusion among our study participants was from the 2002 Frederick Miller and Judith Katz book, The Inclusion Breakthrough. This definition – “Inclusion is about creating an environment in which employees share a sense of belonging, mutual respect, being valued for who they are, and supportive energy and commitment from others so that they can do their best work” – was selected from among six possibilities by over half of our study group.

But does anything about that definition lend itself to measurement? Can one say that a company produced 5% more “supportive energy” this year than last? While other definitions had more concrete wording, such as “avoiding tokenism,” organizations seem inclined toward a definition that is more aspirational and values-based. This kind of definition may explain why only a fifth of respondents say their organizations attempt to quantify the effects of inclusion strategies to a high or very high extent.

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