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Mind the Perception Gap!


By Helen May

How to truly understand the lived experience of your employees

Developing an inclusive culture with a sense of belonging at its core takes more than using traditional D&I metrics. According to the Accenture 2020 ‘Getting to Equal’ report, two thirds of leaders feel they create empowering environments in which employees can be themselves, raise concerns and innovate without fear of failure, while just one third of employees agree. If organisations are to develop D&I strategies that make a difference, stats like these demonstrate why metrics must focus on the lived experience of employees rather than quotas and representation.

To do this means organisations have to dig deep and often be prepared for being comfortable with, and willing to address, inconvenient truths. Many generic inclusion surveys ask ‘vanilla’ questions with a tone that doesn’t necessarily give confidence to those who wouldn’t ordinarily do so to speak out. To really understand what is happening across your organisation start off by gathering the following information

  • · Ask the difficult questions
  • Get brave with your inclusion surveys. Instead of asking
  • ‘Do you feel valued at work?’
  • Ask both
  • ‘Do you feel valued here?’ along with ‘On any occasion In the past 12 months have you been treated in a way that makes you feel ashamed, inferior or excluded?’

such questions give permission to share and demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to understanding every employee’s experience. They are also more likely to encourage the respondent to share stories in an optional ‘tell us more’ question which are powerful indicators of lived experience.

Such questions can be delivered via your own bespoke surveys, via regular ‘pulse’ questions or by using tools such as the Belonging@Work® survey

· What, where and who?

Including optional demographic data in the survey allows you to start cutting the data to understand the story it is telling you. Who feels like they belong in our organisation? Does this vary across the organisation? Who is most likely to feel excluded or not valued? What examples did employees give? What are the key differences between those who do and don’t have a strong sense of belonging in the organisation?

Doing the ‘hard yards’ like this first, before you start to build a D&I strategy, will give you a much better chance of delivering a plan which truly focuses on ensuring everyone is included.

You can read more about building a D&I plan that makes belonging and wellbeing central to your organisation in Helen May’s book ‘Everyone Included’ published by Pearson Business and available on Amazon and all other major retailers.

Ask us about how we can help you to deliver a Belonging@Work® audit in your organisation.

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