three critical considerations to building a world-class inclusion model and employer brand

More than ever, a company’s employer brand should showcase its inclusive and diverse workforce. One reason is that talent increasingly is attracted to organizations that espouse such values and encourage employees of all backgrounds to find a place of belonging. The importance of such an approach is well documented by advisors such as McKinsey, whose studies have detailed how companies achieve superior results from best diverse and inclusive practices.

Inclusion, however, can be highly subjective and difficult to quantify. Unlike diversity, which is easily measured and tracked, inclusion metrics are a moving target. Surveys may provide a snapshot at a moment in time of employee engagement, but there are many other factors that can influence perception, such as the welfare of the business or work demands. And without an effective way to gauge a company’s inclusion efforts, it’s difficult to know if its strategy and execution are sound.

Companies can, however, develop a data-driven approach to guide their efforts, including consistent and actionable initiatives that lead to real change and sustainable outcomes. Integrated with diversity goals and and a company’s corporate values, an effective inclusion program can produce tangible metrics and results, such as higher retention, greater productivity, stronger Net Promoter Scores and more.

build your baseline and goals

As with many initiatives, your efforts to nurture a more inclusive culture must begin with questions: why do we need to make additional inclusion investments, and what does success look like? Without clear justification, buy-in across your organization won’t materialize, and stakeholders will simply go through the motions without achieving progress. So start with defining targets such as enhanced engagement, retention, internal mobility and leadership development.

Having these objectives clearly defined will also make it easier to quantify the metrics. Employee surveys provide engagement scores and retention is easily tracked, as are internal mobility and leadership development. Each of these indicators alone may not give you a complete picture of your inclusion efforts, but collectively they provide a holistic picture of successes and opportunities. 

Part of the data collection process also requires an integrated effort to identify the relevant insights that need to be considered – whether these are hard numbers such as NPS scores or percentage of leaders with diverse backgrounds. Don’t forget, however, anecdotal information can also offer important insights on workforce perception. Consider establishing focus group interviews and an inclusion council – which the Society for Human Resource Management cites as an effective channel for communicating to the C-suite the perception of the workforce.

champion your case to leadership

These initial steps will then serve as the foundation for the next critical part of your inclusion efforts – selling the C-suite on the plan. Without committed executives behind an inclusion initiative, bringing about real change is unlikely. And to get their buy-in, your business case and goals must be clear and achievable. That’s why building a strong foundation is critical.

When promoting inclusion to leadership, state your case not only the impact on innovation and engagement, but also the long-term effect on employer and corporate brands. D&I investments have a tangible impact on measurements, such as Glassdoor scores and the number of job applicants, all of which can lead to economic benefits like reducing recruitment costs.

Finally, a compelling case should be made around the role of inclusion in steering corporate values. Heightened awareness around inclusion and social justice have led many employers to question whether they are doing enough to promote D&I within their organization. Inclusion, specifically, has garnered more attention recently as companies such as Netflix have put a spotlight on the topic.

communicate with the rank and file

Leadership buy-in is certainly important to any inclusion efforts, but so is the buy-in among rank-and-file employees. Without their commitment to embrace a more inclusive culture, organizations will continue to operate in divided ways. Just as you would build a business case for the C-suite, articulating the reasons to the entire workforce should be done so succinctly.

Provide training and a system for feedback on your inclusion program. Conduct focus groups, particularly with employees of different backgrounds, because the whole point of the exercise is to get everyone’s voices heard. Use this information to identify gaps and risks such as loss of critical talent. Most importantly, ensure your organization is ready to implement changes that will deliver the results you seek.

Inclusion may be more challenging to measure and change, but it isn’t less important in your company’s D&I strategy. With a robust foundation and sufficient buy-in, your business can ensure a highly engaged and inclusive workforce as well as a strong employer brand.      

about the author
Vice President Global Talent Marketing

francesca campalani

vice president, global head of talent marketing

Francesca is a business obsessed and creative thought leader with 20 years of experience in consumer marketing, talent marketing, employer branding, diversity and culture.