Listening Along the DEI Journey Models Inclusion
Now more than ever organizational leaders are revisiting their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) values to accelerate their impact. While the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and DEI are distinct, our new solidarity around this movement is also highlighting the need for stronger DEI cultures. Today, many leaders are recognizing how listening along the DEI journey models inclusion. Many leaders are launching Waggl’s DEI framework to achieve this.
Alongside the profound need to make workplaces more human, data shows that DEI improves business performance. As Josh Bersin notes, “Companies with diverse boards outperform their peers; diverse teams are more innovative and creative; and diverse companies attract more diverse job candidates and customers.”
The essence of DEI
Diversity refers to organizations representing multiple races, ages, genders, sexual orientations and cultures. Equity refers to parity in compensation, as well as hiring, growth and succession opportunities. Inclusion refers to employees feeling that they belong as an integral member of their organization. The essence of all of these is summed up in these Hamilton lyrics: “When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game.”
Listening models inclusion
When leaders ask their people to share feedback through Waggl’s Employee Voice platform, they invite them into a conversation. They begin a transparent dialogue at scale about what is working, what isn’t and what to do about it. When launching Waggl’s DEI framework specifically, they invite their people to pinpoint their collective DEI priorities. They also draw out the resources and strategies to address these priorities. In this way, leaders begin to experience how listening along the DEI journey models inclusion.
When employees share their DEI insights through Waggl’s platform, they experience how it feels to be included. Through the platform, they join an open conversation with others across their organization. Through the voting functionality, they also witness others considering their contributions to this conversation. In this way, they experience how their contribution influences the conversation.
They experience this again when they vote on others’ input. By weighing others’ responses and choosing which response feels the most relevant to them, they’re influencing which issues are prioritized. This inclusion magnifies as they continue listening, responding and voting throughout the pulse. This also continues as everyone can view the final pulse results in real-time within the platform. Deloitte refers to this collective inclusion as: “when the setting tips from ‘I feel included’ to ‘we feel included’.”
This inclusive experience motivates employees to keep sharing their best insights. By witnessing first hand how they’re part of the conversation, employees gain the trust that their insights matter. Then they invest more in addressing the issues they’ve collectively prioritized. As Roberto Montoya, former Denver International Airport Manager Diversity and Engagement, states: “Waggl lets us ask for feedback in a way that allows employees to engage with one another, and involves them in the solution.”
This also motivates employees to refine how they contribute to have the best impact. Linda Aldred, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Texas Children’s Hospital, shares how their organization experiences this: “Waggl helps individuals find their voices and develop competence in speaking up. A well-crafted, thoughtful response tends to get voted up. A hasty response will probably get voted down. It helps people learn to speak up with greater confidence.”
When leaders model this collective inclusion, the results align with the Deloitte study where “the findings point to a new potential borne out of a large group of employees feeling inspired by each other. It’s a beautiful story of collective intelligence, driven by diverse ideas which are set free through inclusive behaviours.”
These leaders recognize Deloitte’s research that states: “the challenge lies in translating a nod of the head to the value of diversity and inclusion into impactful actions—and that necessitates a courageous conversation.” Asking questions and listening are the first “impactful actions” to take. This starts the “courageous conversation.” In fact, the top-voted answers to our Voice of HR pulse on improving racial justice refer to “encouraging conversation” and “healthy dialogue.”
Framing the conversation
Waggl’s DEI framework provides an open-ended question for each stage along the DEI continuum. These stages focus on creating, advancing and then strengthening a DEI culture. Each question seeks to pinpoint the main objective for each stage of the conversation. As Deloitte research shows, “When organizations are clear about the objective, they can turn their attention to the drivers of inclusion, take action, and measure results.”
Staging the question sets
Beginning to build a DEI foundation requires understanding what DEI elements to prioritize and foster. Waggl’s “create” question set draws these out, by asking e.g. “As we work to build a more inclusive place to work, what is the most important area for us to focus on first?”
Advancing an existing DEI environment requires understanding the successful elements to continue and expand. Waggl’s “advance” question set draws these out, by asking e.g. “What is one action we are taking that demonstrates our commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?”
Maintaining this robust environment requires learning innovative ways to evolve and stay at the forefront of DEI. Waggl’s “strengthen” question set draws these out, by asking e.g. “What is one thing you have experienced at another organization that could help us continue strengthening our inclusion?”
Defining the listening cadence
Waggl’s DEI framework recommends a bi-annual or annual pulsing program. Alongside the open-ended question sets for each stage, this framework includes recurring metric questions. These track DEI concepts over time and measure progress in driving the right behaviors.
Tracking progress of DEI concepts
Our DEI framework integrates and expands on the concepts outlined in Deloitte’s inclusion model. Deloitte’s research highlights the following concepts that build on each other sequentially.
Fairness and respect
Employees feel included when they are treated “equitably and with respect.” Tracking this indicates the level of equity across the employee base. In our Voice of HR pulse on improving racial justice, this concept surfaced as a top answer. This answer referred to: “finding ways to fix structural gaps to ensure equity, such as compensation, succession planning, and manager capability.”
Valued and belonging
Inclusion is experienced when employees feel that they are genuinely appreciated by others. They feel connected – not just as a subject matter expert – but as an integral member of a team. As neuroscience tells us: “Humans have a biologically based need to belong—to feel included, supported, and valued by others.”
In fact, Peggie Kresl-Hotz, OD and Learning Manager at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, notes how the very act of participating in a Waggl pulse can generate this connection. In referring to clinical workers at the beginning of the pandemic, she describes Waggl pulses as “helping them resist isolating by actively drawing them out to share their concerns and needs.”
Safe and open
Employees experience this as the willingness to speak up without fear of hostility, retaliation or embarrassment. Some employees may fear their manager will feel undermined by their input. Some may stay silent due to past input being ignored, or a lack of genuine opportunities to speak up.
This is another concept that can be reinforced by the act of participating in a Waggl pulse. For example, Froy Garza, Associate Director of the VA North TX Health Care System, states, “we chose our Employee Voice platform to ensure psychological safety on the part of every employee because it’s anonymous.”
Empowered and growing
Employees experience this as the opportunity to develop expertise and do their best work. This can look like leaders sharing the reins with their direct reports on strategic decision-making. These direct reports then have the opportunity to develop the skills to maximize this higher level of influence. Waggl customer, Mike Taylorson, VP of Learning and Strategy at Parsons, addresses this in his blog Parsons Empowers Managers to Create a Speak Up Culture.
Taking the right actions
In these ways, both leaders and their people experience how listening along the DEI journey models inclusion. They experience how this inclusion guides their path ahead. They develop the trust and skills to advance this collective conversation.
Waggl’s framework provides the science to track progress on each DEI concept, and the agility to move forward quickly. The questions highlight priorities to address at each stage, and any overlooked hot button issues. As James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” In our upcoming blog, we will share how we are using our own Waggl framework. We’ll demonstrate how our own practice of listening along our DEI journey models inclusion, and how this is advancing our DEI culture.
To learn more, please reach out to [email protected] or your Customer Success Manager. We will tailor our framework to advance your organization’s DEI journey.