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Core Indicators of Inclusion

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, The Inclusive Leader (24-slide PowerPoint presentation). Modern organizations recognize that to be leaders in their industry, they need a workforce that represents the society in which it exists. But while many companies are putting their best efforts into recruiting a more diverse workforce, it's the experience created for employees that will ultimately [read more]

Also, if you are interested in becoming an expert on Human Resource Management (HRM), take a look at Flevy's Human Resource Management (HRM) Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

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When looking at Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) superficially at an organizational aggregate level, organizations may appear to have strong Diversity representation.  However, if we look more closely, we see issues of Inclusion.

For instance, there are a lot of organizations where there are women employees, but none or extremely few of them are managers.  In many other cases, there are organizations that will have a good representation of employees of color overall, but all of them may be in the same department.

Such organizations can be said to have Diversity, but lacking in Inclusion.  Many organizations that have made good strides towards Diversity still fall quite short when it comes to Inclusion.

Diversity pertains to representation of races, ethnicities, and other minority groups in an entity, or in other words the make-up of an organization.  Inclusion on the other hand, represents the degree of value given to inputs, existence, and viewpoints of various groups of people and the extent of their integration in a setting.  Inclusion is innately hard to measure.

Rationality of focusing on Inclusion together with Diversity is steadily getting more attention.

Despite this focus, complete dynamics of the various facets of Inclusion, and their comparative significance, however, are not entirely comprehended so far.

Settings where several nationalities, races, genders, and sexual orientations along with identities exist may be Diverse but for Inclusion, viewpoints and influence of all categories is necessary.

Employees’ experience of Inclusion in their workplace is of great significance to them, as shown by studies and research.  Employees’ experience, however, does not constantly line up with their firm’s or even their bosses’ official pledges towards Inclusion.

Inclusion and workplace culture are innately hard to measure and this is a substantial difficulty faced by leading executives.

McKinsey carried out an analysis of employee reviews (made during 2017–19) about the firms they worked for.  They particularly researched the following 3 Core Indicators of Inclusion:

  1. Equality
  2. Openness
  3. Belonging

McKinsey evaluated the sentiment—positive, negative, and neutral—in employee comments regarding D&I, concentrating on 10–30 firms in 3 industries i.e., Financial services, Technology, and Healthcare.

Reviews related to D&I were examined by means of keywords associated with 2 indicators connected to a methodical approach to D&I.  The indicators included Diverse representation and Leadership accountability for D&I.

Subsequently, 3 Core Indicators of Inclusion—Equality, Openness, and Belonging—were particularly researched. 

Let us go a little more deep into the details of the 3 Core Indicators. 


Employees seek impartiality and transparency in recruitment, pay, and promotion.  They also want unbiased access to sponsorship opportunities, retention support, and other resources.

Companies across the 3 industries examined, cope inadequately on this measure, with Equality inordinately the most negative of all facets measured.

Undesirable sentiment pertaining to Equality was in between 63% and 80% across the industries. 


Openness is an Organizational Culture that encourages employees to regard each other with reciprocal esteem, and where prejudice, intimidation, discernment, and micro-aggressions are proactively tackled. 

Openness of the working environment was also of significant concern to employees, as per their comments.

Positive comments were mostly related to Respect and Trust as vital factors in the work environment.  Negative views had a tendency to group around Bullying and Micro-aggression.


Firms that show steadfast support for the all-round comfort and contributions of diverse employees are able to generate a sense of Belonging.

Total number of mentions related to Belonging were 110, of those 32% were negative.  Of the 68% that were either neutral or positive, the majority was positive.

Interested in learning more about Core Indicators of Inclusion?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on Core Indicators of Inclusion here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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Introducing the Ultimate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workshop Toolkit! Are you ready to transform your workplace into a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment where every team member feels valued and empowered? Look no further! Our comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion [read more]

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The purpose of Human Resources (HR) is to ensure our organization achieves success through our people. Without the right people in place—at all levels of the organization—we will never be able to execute our Strategy effectively.

This begs the question: Does your organization view HR as a support function or a strategic one? Research shows leading organizations leverage HR as a strategic function, one that both supports and drives the organization's Strategy. In fact, having strong HRM capabilities is a source of Competitive Advantage.

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Diversity pertains to representation of races, ethnicities, and other minority groups in an entity or, in other words, the make-up of an organization. Inclusion, on the other hand, represents the degree of value given to inputs, existence, and viewpoints of various groups of people and the extent [read more]

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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