It's high time for data-driven inclusiveness management!

By Irma Doze

This article is originally published on CHRO.

Anyone who wants to increase the diversity of the workforce must simultaneously manage for inclusiveness. This can be measured very well, says analytics expert Irma Doze.

Do you believe that your organisation thinks and works in an inclusive way? That there is room for everyone, that employees feel at home? Practice is often less rosy than many people think. I see many organisations focussing mainly on increasing diversity in the workforce.


Sometimes the sense of inclusiveness even deteriorates as a result of active diversity policies.

Various academic studies tell us that diversity does not automatically equal more inclusiveness. On the contrary, active diversity policies may even worsen the sense of inclusiveness.

It is time to get serious about inclusiveness. Making inclusiveness management more data driven will mean that it can be done as effectively and efficiently as possible. This requires starting with a data-supported inclusiveness policy, implementing intelligent data-supported solutions wherever possible and monitoring their effects in practice.

‘Do we have an inclusiveness problem?’ That is the first question every organisation should ask itself. ‘Do we have a problem?’ ‘Why is it a problem?’ ‘How big is the problem?’ ‘Is it an organisation-wide problem or only present in some parts of the organisation or among specific groups?’ and ‘What if we do nothing?

Benefits of inclusiveness

Our own Dutch Inclusiveness Study tells us that working on inclusiveness can have enormous benefits. The study shows that:

  • there is a strong (positive) relationship between the degree of inclusiveness and the degree of employer recommendation, with the (European) eNPS ranging from 22 (group: not at all inclusive) to 75 (group: inclusive);
  • there is a strong (positive) relationship between the degree of inclusiveness (perceived) and the degree of engagement, varying from 14% very engaged (group: not at all inclusive) to 39% very engaged (group: inclusive); and
  • there is a strong (positive) relationship between the degree of inclusiveness (perceived) and the degree of loyalty (intended), varying from 59% retention intention (group: not at all inclusive) to 87% retention intention (group: inclusive).

So there are enough reasons to consider a lack of inclusiveness a problem, and there is enough ammunition to build a business case to address it. That is, if the results in your organisation match those of the Netherlands as a whole. Now that is easy to find out: just like culture, inclusiveness can be measured through research, as can the drivers (factors) that can improve or worsen the sense of inclusiveness. The latter can also be established by means of listening sessions, anonymous if preferred, during which people tell their managers about the opportunities and obstacles they experienced. It is these opportunities and obstacles that partly influence their sense of belonging to an organisation.

Better problem solving

So is diversity ‘so 2020’? No, it is not. If the aim of diversity is to prevent inequality and discrimination, we can never give it enough attention. After all, everyone deserves equal opportunities. Studies in the Harvard Business Review and by McKinsey, among others, show that diversity can also lead to better problem solving and better results.

While this is reason enough to keep a close eye on diversity, please try to look beyond gender, age, religion or ethnicity. Though these superficial characteristics are easier to measure – even if the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does make some aspects challenging – academic research shows that it is precisely the deeper-lying differences, such as differences in knowledge, approach and method, that lead to more creativity and innovation.

It is also a good idea to keep evaluating whether the measures designed to increase diversity are actually having the expected effect. Only when employees also experience a sense of inclusiveness can you reap the benefits of diversity. This means that organisations need to shift their focus to inclusiveness.


Want to know more about data-driven inclusiveness management?

Then contact our expert Irma!

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