Cultivating an Inclusive Culture Through Personal Networks

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Many organizations have ramped up their investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion — largely in the form of anti-bias training, employee resource groups, mentoring programs, and added DEI functions and roles. But gauging the effectiveness of these measures has been a challenge. To get an accurate read on the progress that has been made so far, it’s not enough to look for representation across demographic categories in recruitment and hiring, although that’s a start. Organizations must also assess employee experience. If people aren’t equitably developed and promoted once they come on board, they’re not as likely to stay. And even if they do stick around, engagement may suffer, and the organization may struggle to reap diversity’s potential benefits, such as increased creativity and improved business performance. Efforts to capture employee experience usually involve self-reporting via engagement questionnaires or pulse surveys. These provide insights about individuals’ feelings — asking, for instance, “Are you inspired by the goals of the organization?” or “Would you recommend our company as a great place to work?” But they offer a limited view, because they typically don’t reflect the presence or absence of work relationships that lead to positive or negative feelings, or the extent to which the organization and its people are building connectivity that yields high engagement.

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