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Employee Experience

Pulling the right levers to close the diversity and inclusion gap

The wide-ranging benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce are well documented. In fact, there are 200+ studies on this very topic.

To help organizations on their journey to build and cultivate a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within their workplace, Qualtrics spoke with some of Asia Pacific’s leading voices on DEI to get a real insight into how they are making real progress. The experts we spoke with included Fiona Vines, Head of Inclusion & Diversity and Workforce Transition, BHP; Jane O’Leary, Research Director, Diversity Council Australia; and our own Dr. Antonio Pangallo, Senior XM Scientist, Qualtrics.

During our conversation we discussed the role of experience data (X-data) in taking an evidence-based approach to DEI, targeted intervention, accountability, co-creation of goals, and sharing the workload to create significant change. Here we share a few of their valuable insights.

Download the guide: Applying diversity, equity and inclusion in your EX program

Be intentional

In 2016, BHP, one of the world’s leading resources companies headquartered in Melbourne, set an ambitious goal of becoming a gender-balanced organization by 2025 – to achieve this goal the organization would need to increase its female workforce by three percent per year, every year.

Fiona explained one of the key learnings early on was that simply "hope is not a strategy.” Good intentions were not enough to make significant change at the pace BHP needed. Fiona said the following measures have been critical to helping advance gender diversity within BHP.

  • It’s more than just hiring - Your strategic actions should go beyond creating a diverse talent pool, and focus just as much on ensuring women stay with the organization once they are hired. This requires culture and systemic change to ensure they are included, feel like they belong, and thrive in their careers.
  • Disaggregate your employee data - by gender or whichever diversity factor you're looking to address - "You've got to gender disaggregate all of your data - including safety, production, engagement. Pull it apart to see where women are having a different experience to men and then go in and focus on those areas. We also do this for Indigenous employees.” Looking for gaps in experience or outcomes can apply to all employee data. This is a continuous practice that is integrated into the way we conduct ourselves everyday.
  • Accountability at a leadership level - "People need to feel accountable. That means making this part of their KPIs." There’s also a role for coaching senior leaders to "take up their accountability and get out of the way so they can,” Fiona said. If companies set goals, accountability follows - DEI goals should be just the same.

Connect the dots

Both BHP and Diversity Council Australia highlighted the importance of measuring employee experience beyond just engagement, as this illustrates how DEI is connected with critical business outcomes. This can help to make the case for related initiatives that drive sustainable change towards our DEI ambitions.

“We encourage members to think more broadly. Instead of limiting questions to staff engagement, add in questions about business process efficiency and client service. Then when we go back to the organization, we can say, ‘It's not just about wellbeing’,” said Jane.

‘Do nothing about me, without me’

Too often, well-intended companies want to move forward fast with DEI initiatives and can forget to involve those who are going to be most affected by the changes, particularly the underrepresented groups that they are designed to support.

When it comes to designing DEI programs and implementing policies, Diversity Council Australia recommends being heavily guided by self-determination principles where decisions are made by the individuals and communities that are impacted - or to put it another way, "do nothing about me, without me".

However, she warned that the risk is that women and underrepresented groups often carry a disproportionate load in designing and implementing those initiatives.

“If you have a gender equality initiative, women should lead it, but execution should be done in partnership with men. That serves a number of purposes. The burden is shared but proposed changes are normalized, and it frames the work as an organizational or business issue rather than a women's issue."

Fiona agreed that it’s critical to "co-create and bring people into the conversation at the right time, to make sure everyone is heard." In this way, the workload required to create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces is fairly distributed and therefore avoids the ‘diversity tax’ that can sometimes land on employees from underrepresented groups.

Find your levers and track what matters

Every business decision, operation, and the process has an impact on DEI in the workplace and has the potential to be biased. But you can't boil the ocean. Strategic Employee Experience Management (EXM) technology and practices can surface the data organizations need to confidently determine what their high leverage points are. By integrating EX data and DEI practices into our everyday business operations, this provides leaders with the insights they need to make inclusive and employee-centric decisions.

Taking an evidence-based approach to DEI ensures that focused action can be taken to close experience gaps for diverse employees, as well as track what change looks like and progress towards our goals.

This approach to EX data that goes beyond an annual survey and taps into the moments that matter can highlight the cumulative effect of experience gaps across the employee lifecycle. For example, you may only have a small gap in experience between different groups of employees across their candidate, onboarding and culture experiences. But small gaps in a variety of areas add up to someone having a very different experience to someone else.

Negative experiences can lead to high turnover rates, which is especially problematic when a huge amount of effort is applied to building a diverse pipeline of talent. To address this challenge, BHP measures the experience of job candidates, onboarding employees and those tenured in the workplace, and then disaggregates that data to pick up on where improvements can be made.

The why

Always keep in mind why you are making these changes and remind your teams of the vision. And be aware, there is no quick fix when it comes to DEI.

Expect that the benefits will become more clear over time, adding to the momentum behind the push. "You start to see a realization that it's worth it. (BHP today) feels different; it's great to have more women in the organization. Over time you start to win people over,” Fiona said.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can use employee experience data to turn up the effectiveness of your DEI program, get in touch, or read our guide for HR leaders: Applying diversity, equity and inclusion in your EX program.

eBook: Applying diversity, equity, and inclusion to your employee experience program