Saturday, 22 June 2024

Diversity and Inclusion Interviews

Workplace Diversity and Inclusion

Having a diverse mix of employees is now clearly recognised as critical to innovation and business success.  However, getting the mix right isn't enough. To realise benefits from diversity there must be a culture where the demographic and intellectual diversity works well together in a way that leads to superior results.  Only when such an 'inclusive' culture exists can organisations harness the power of diversity.

Diversity Interviews = Solid Evidence for Change

It’s common for companies to measure diversity by reporting statistics on their employee population.  For many organisations, diversity efforts are primarily focused on women. For others it can be older workers, LGBTIQ, those from varied cultural or language backgrounds, younger workers, or men.

While tracking demographics is necessary,  gaining the benefits from diversity requires behaviours, attitudes, systems and processes that build an inclusive company culture. Inclusion is comprised of fairness and respect (equity and non-discrimination), and value and belonging (feeling our uniqueness is valued, inclusion in decision making, and connectedness)[1]. These are aspects of the employment experience that are directly shaped by culture and leadership.

Like many cultural issues, the root causes are often subtle, deeply embedded, and invisible to many. It’s for this reason that training in managing unconscious biases has become a more prevalent practice. However even this helpful initiative won’t identify or address all biased practises, especially informal ones. For example, what if inclusion on quality projects is the most powerful career development tool in your organisation, but assignment to projects is an informal process based on personal relationships? Even if the assigning manager is aware of their bias, the drive to work with people we like is strong. They are unlikely to forego the opportunity to work with someone they like, in order to benefit the career path of someone they know less well. In this scenario, the answer is to make project assignment a more structured and transparent process. Yet the issue may lie undiscovered unless a rigorous method is used for gathering feedback on diversity and inclusion practices in your organisation.

The nuanced nature of Diversity and Inclusion means that the method you use to conduct your employee research must be capable of exploring, discovering and clarify ideas and issues for the participants.  If not, then you will not get to the root causes of diversity and inclusion blocks, nor how to change them.  This is why online surveys have limited value for gathering D&I feedback and why we have seen a surge in use of our Phone Interview and Analytics services for understanding and addressing Diversity and Inclusion issues.

How some clients have used our Diversity and Inclusion Interviews

Diversity and Inclusion issues have the potential to impact every part of an organisation. Organisations also  vary in how advanced they are in formulating and executing their Diversity and Inclusion strategies.  Therefore the reasons to conduct Diversity and Inclusion Interviews are many and varied. Here are some examples from our recent engagements:

Fix a leaking leadership pipeline - Despite more than half of all graduate positions being filled by women, one client was finding themselves with few female candidates for leadership roles. Women were opting out in the feeder roles below this level in the organisation structure. Despite having D&I processes in place, the diversity on the leadership bench was not improving. Our Diversity and Inclusion Interviews identified some cultural norms and informal career development practices that were turning women away. In another project it was the perception of the culture among the leadership team itself. From the outside, it didn’t look like a team that women wanted to join.

Attract retain and engage diversity groups - Our Diversity Interviews are a deep dive into engagement and retention on an individual level. The use of engagement surveys to address retention and engagement is helpful at a population-wide level, however a more in-depth approach is needed to fully engage and retain targeted individuals, right now!  In one project we focused these interviews on senior women. In another, the interviews were conducted with people in high-tech roles in a low-tech industry.

Not only do these Diversity Interviews gather much more refined, detailed feedback, but the process of going through an hour long interview focused entirely on the employee’s experience is, itself, helpful for retention. Employees give excellent feedback about the depth of these phone interviews. Ideally, the individual reports are then debriefed with individuals in your diversity segments, so that HR professionals &/or managers can act immediately on what’s required to retain and engage them. For the high-tech team in the low tech industry, this is exactly what the team manager did, and the staff attrition problem disappeared immediately.

Design and Refine Diversity Programs - These Diversity Interviews are about discovering which parts of the existing strategy is working , what needs to be fixed and what ideas people have for making it better. Alternatively, if you are just starting out with your Diversity and Inclusion strategy, these interviews can help orient you towards the meaningful tactics. One of our clients used this type of D&I Interview to review and re-set their diversity programs focused on women. Their programs had been running for a few years with mixed success. They’ve since been referred to as an employer of choice for women.

What should a Diversity Interview Cover

The short answer is - 'It depends on your goals'.

The chart below which was taken from the 2013 Korn / Ferry Institute - Diversity  and Inclusion study demonstrates the breadth of the diversity program spectrum:

The range of possibilities is large and so there is no 'one size fits all' answer.  The over arching goal is to discover and understand what action is needed, but the specific questions we ask should be designed around your target groups and the specific goals of the project.  At TIG we've built a library of questions that we know work in practice and we have the internal consulting skills to help create bespoke interviews to get the outcomes you want.

Want to know more?

Download our Diversity and Inclusion Fact Pack by clicking on the link below.

Download Fact Pack

[1] Waiter is that Inclusion in my Soup?: A New Recipe to Improve Business Performance. Deloitte and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. May 2013.

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