Note From Kalen: Today, I have a pretty amazing resource. My friend, Heston, published this as an academic article, and then he was kind enough to turn it into an article for MoneyMiniBlog. This is the final product…

We live in such an exciting time where diversity and inclusion flourishes around us. In our modern times, people can freely express different individualities, perspectives, and garner recognitions when it’s due. Despite the different events seen in the media highlighting division of interests, one could argue that unity and common interest broke more inclusion barriers today than the previous decades.

Therefore, successful companies in this present age leverage diversity and inclusion (D&I) not only to accommodate human resource policies, but to mainly increase productivity and profitability. But how do companies measure their inclusive culture? If they do, how is this relevant to the organization’s performance? 

Many organizations with a population that embody different backgrounds, experience, and knowledge need to know leveraging methods that captivate untapped resources of skill, creativity, and talent. Strong understanding on inclusive culture could promote individual performance, enhance group productivity, and assist on identifying better practice in organizational aspects. Therefore, management could properly assess field and office dynamics by recognizing common factors that make the virtue of an inclusive organization. 

Multiple consulting agencies and management programs already offer group diversity integration plans, as well as numerous articles scholarly explain its benefits. However, my extensive research focusing on inclusion uncovered the limited availability to measure a company’s inclusivity. In addition, seldom that any diversity programs translate how exactly will inclusion help an individual or the group to improve its performance. 

After a grueling six months of academic and industry research, I identified common traits that different organizations with a healthy inclusive environment share. Here are the 11 indicators of an inclusive environment and their capability to improve company performance. 

1. New Ideas are Welcome 

Organizational attitudes towards openness to change, people, preconceived fit of a person, and to errors inspire a robust favorable climate for productivity. A company’s positive outlook suggest that welcoming new ideas promotes inclusiveness and a clear indication of an inclusive environment. Welcoming new ideas could also lead to forming a mindset that recognizes alternative ways to complete a task, which companies with inclusive environment tend to embody. 

2. Culture of Trust 

Leaders’ foster members’ confidence in the workplace when they are competent, protect their personnel’s interests, follow their words with appropriate action, and develop/promote capable employees. This culture tend to develop in inclusive groups. 

3. Leadership Engagement and Accountability

Leaders are engaged at all levels of the organization and abide by the same standards as other members. Leader-member exchanges include mentorship and group activity involvement. 

4. New Ideas Feedback System 

Coinciding with welcoming new ideas as an indication of an inclusive environment is a robust ‘Feedback System’ in place to ensure ideas are not only heard but drive a reaction to broaden their value. Management in any organization plays a vital role in enforcing a feedback system to maintain environment inclusiveness. Members tend to develop a sense of openness to learn when provided with constructive feedback. 

5. Avoiding Groupthink 

A group often thrives because of the synchronization of each member, of their processes, and ultimately on how they think. To a certain extent, an odd perspective would prefer a group to think in unison to accomplish the task. However, when heterogeneous thinking passes an absolute ceiling of productivity, resistance to new ideas emerges and the flow of diverse thoughts of members could fall into the trap of groupthink. Understanding the intricacy of hailing outside perspective into the group could cultivate an inclusive subject field. With this intention, an in-place assessment preventing groupthink advocates such a system as an indication of an inclusive environment. 

6. Inclusive Language 

Members communicate clearly without using phrases or expressions that may exclude particular groups or create an atmosphere of an “us” versus “them.” Co-workers tend to develop a friendlier or more courteous interpersonal dynamics when addressed neutrally to avoid unnecessary presumptions. 

7. High Recruitment and Retention Rate 

Available information with both diversity and inclusion illuminate signs of high recruitment and steady retention rate as a possible quality of an inclusive organization. An environment welcoming variety implies the outlook to attract and retain highly skilled personnel as well as the representation of an inclusive environment based on recruitment and retention. 

8. Conflict Resolution Plan 

Some conflict could bear fruitful outcomes, innovative processes, and ultimately a deeper understanding of the given subject. However, despite the spectrum of conflict outcomes, organizations understand the concern of possessing a conflict resolution plan to mitigate the negative implications of opposing views. Perhaps an environment with a capable system to control disagreements and guide the opposing views into positive results would promote the members’ sense of organized atmosphere, freedom to engage, and a level of safety. 

9. Well-defined Policies and Policy Enforcement 

Organizations maintain and properly execute Equal Opportunity, Non-Attribution, and related policies. According to thriving organizations, the transparency of guidelines and regulations helps workers to express commitment and trust to the sense of community in the company. Therefore, it contributes to make the environment inclusive. 

10. Fellowship 

Workers or job seekers often entertain several reasons to consider before accepting a job offer and commit to extended employment status. Perhaps this explains why organizations leverage their retention strategy not only to attract highly skilled personnel but to eventually 

convince them on settling in and avoid entertaining outside contenders. Throughout the review of the literature on inclusion, the ‘recruitment and retention’ indicator appeared frequently and links retention and ‘fellowship,’ which workers commonly define as an interpersonal relation invoking a sense of belonging to a group. Besides compensation, benefits, and the need to earn a living, the feeling of belongingness transpires as a legitimate influence in selecting a job. Under this association, fellowship argues an adequate claim as an indicator of an inclusive environment. 

11. Shared Powers 

Managers motivate power equality, deemphasizing their positional power as a way to encourage collective participation in agenda-setting and decision making. 

Numerous articles describe overlapping concepts of these indicators with factors evaluated by managers and leaders to improve processes, organizational communication strategies, and increase productivity. Looking at these signs through economic terms and observing correlations between variables will lead to outcomes able to close the gap on inclusion measurements and performance metrics.

As a suggested form of application, any management could adopt the 11 indicators of inclusion and create a framework with each indicator evaluated based on a 7-point Likert-type scale. The weighted average technique could supplement the score calculations and provide the empirical results necessary to determine levels of significance. Individual indicator scores could reveal weaknesses in certain management aspects; managers and leaders can integrate the scores in the decision-making process for improvement. 

As diversity around us continues to grow, and along with it the shift on interpersonal dynamics, social innovation in management posits the relevance of generating definite information describing the actual climate of an organization. Even with the active display of 

appropriate personal interactions, rules compliance, and task completions, the actual value of diversity and inclusion and its sustainment could strongly be justified through measurable reports.

Written by Heston Lubiano, MS.