Championing workplace inclusion: how we built our game-changing assessment
In recent years, inclusion has climbed the priority list of how to build a successful company culture. Rightly so. Alongside Equality and Diversity, it’s one of the three core elements that transforms a workplace from an exclusive playground to an environment where everyone can succeed.
Defining ‘inclusion’ was no easy feat. Inclusion is made up of a cluster of feelings, attitudes, emotions and behaviours that varies vastly across experiences and perspectives.
To pin down exactly what inclusion is, we painstakingly researched the latest science to uncover the key aspects to inclusion. The result? Our exclusion-busting inclusion scale.
With this, we compiled a list of neutral and unprejudiced questions to effectively measure inclusion. These questions form our employee survey. The results of the survey give companies insight into employee’s perspectives of life at their company, across multiple people processes, policies and behaviours.
How we built our inclusion scale
As a first step, we reviewed the scientific literature on workplace inclusion across various fields: Sociology, (Occupational and Organisational) Psychology, Law, Behavioural Science, Human Resource Management and Economics.
Inclusion scales so far
We then analysed existing inclusion scales and found that most were outdated (created in the 80s and 90s). They also weren’t sufficiently validated and there was a serious lack of diversity. The scales were developed by and with mostly homogenous teams (primarily, White, well-educated people from Western countries).
The 5 dimensions of inclusion
Next, we distilled the key inclusion concepts into five core dimensions. Each one captures a different facet of an inclusive workplace experience.
Belonging means feeling accepted and included by those around us. When employees feel comfortable bringing their full selves to work and feeling part of the team, then belonging will flourish. The combination is essential: employees need to feel both accepted and able to show their distinctive colours.
Fairness is all about how employees perceive your processes and policies. If it seems like people get ahead because of who they know, what they look like or where they come from, then your fairness scores will suffer. Implementing equitable and transparent processes across the board is the most impactful way to boost perceptions of fairness. In the end, it’s about ensuring a fair and unbiased distribution of work, benefits, recognition and opportunities.
Openness means listening to each other, sharing information and ensuring that everyone has their say. In teams where openness is low, people feel that it’s challenging to have open and honest conversations, and may struggle to ask for help when they need it.
Psychological safety is what teams need to perform well: it allows them to take risks, innovate, and learn from each other. In teams with low psychological safety, people worry that speaking up, making mistakes or reporting issues will lead to trouble. To make sure everyone works together productively, it is important to build a culture of trust, safety and support.
Voice means being both invited to contribute and then also being listened to. This is important for every employee – whether they’re junior or senior, or part of a well-represented or underrepresented group. Building an engaged team means valuing everyone’s perspectives and opening up channels of communication. At a broader level, it’s also about having the ‘power’ to affect change in the organisation.
Our first (looong) list of questions
Using scientific research and our core dimensions, we wrote loads of inclusion questions: 120+ in total 🤯.
Developing our (much shorter) list of questions
Well aware no one wants to answer 120 questions, we set about filtering them down. We interviewed D&I professionals and asked a diverse group of employees how they would answer the questions. We not only cut down the total number of questions but improved the clarity, consistency and insight of each question.
We conducted three rounds of pilot tests with hundreds of employees based in England and in full or part-time employment. We sampled a balanced mix of ethnicities, genders, sexualities and ages.
We’re going to get all technical for a second, but stick with us. Now was the all-important stage of conducting a convergent validity test. To break it down, we tested our scale against the renowned Mor-Barak inclusion scale (taken by millions of people) and found a high correlation between the two scales. This confirmed that our scale measures the same underlying concept.
To get even more technical (sorry again), we then used recognised statistical techniques (i.e. the ones in the psychometric toolbox, like Cronbach’s Alpha) to see which questions fit nicely together. The exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis helped us to settle on our dimensions described above.
Next, we eliminated questions that generated volatile responses as this indicates they measured different things for different people.
Our super survey!
Finally, we tested several scale formats and chose one that’s consistent, quick-to-answer and provides a great user experience for employees answering our inclusion survey. Ta-da!
🎨 Final Outcome
Almost a year later, only 19 solid, validated and, dare we say it, perfect questions made it to the final cut.
Fancy trying out the inclusion scale?
Sign up to Fair HQ to get insights into your company’s inclusion climate. As we don’t do half measures at Fair HQ, we’ll not only help you assess your company’s Inclusion, but we audit your Equality and Diversity as well. With these insights, we build a bespoke strategy to improve your D&I, providing plenty of actionable tips to help set you up for success.
Sign up for a demoClick here
Want to dig deeper?
If you’re like us and love digging into the technical aspects of scale development and testing, here’s a list of checks we’ve done to test the reliability and validity of our assessment.
✅ Construct validity – our assessment has all the key elements of inclusion, as verified by D&I experts.
✅ High internal reliability – the individual items in the scale are consistent with each other.
✅ Convergent validity – our assessment is related to a renowned measure.
✅ Clear factor structure – the dimensions we constructed are verified by the data.
✅ Clear scale format – our questions are easy and quick to complete but produce fine-grained data.
If you want to delve into some further research on the topic, here’s some great background reading:
Cordier, R., Milbourn, B., Martin, R., Buchanan, A., Chung, D., & Speyer, R. (2017). A systematic review evaluating the psychometric properties of measures of social inclusion. PLoS One, 12(6), e0179109.
Gehlbach, H., & Artino Jr, A. R. (2018). The survey checklist (manifesto). Academic Medicine, 93(3), 360-366.
Gehlbach, H., & Brinkworth, M. E. (2011). Measure twice, cut down error: A process for enhancing the validity of survey scales. Review of General Psychology, 15(4), 380-387.
Mor-Barak, M. E., & Cherin, D. A. (1998). A tool to expand organizational understanding of workforce diversity: Exploring a measure of inclusion-exclusion. Administration in Social Work, 22(1), 47-64.
Mor Barak, M. E. (2015). Inclusion is the key to diversity management, but what is inclusion?. Human Service Organizations: Management, Leadership & Governance, 39(2), 83-88.
Ryan, K., Gannon-Slater, N., & Culbertson, M. J. (2012). Improving survey methods with cognitive interviews in small-and medium-scale evaluations. American Journal of Evaluation, 33(3), 414-430.
Simms, L. J. (2008). Classical and modern methods of psychological scale construction. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2(1), 414-433.
Wright, T. A., Quick, J. C., Hannah, S. T., & Blake Hargrove, M. (2017). Best practice recommendations for scale construction in organizational research: The development and initial validation of the Character Strength Inventory (CSI).Journal of organizational Behavior, 38(5), 615-628.