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  • Writer's pictureGary Ford

Men for Inclusion Lived Experience Survey - Our Purpose

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

Why we felt an Inclusion survey was necessary and what it was trying to achieve

In March this year, Men for Inclusion published the results of its first annual (hopefully) Lived Experience Survey. Over the course of the next few weeks, we would like to share the full results of that survey with a wider audience. You can download a summarised copy of the the research here.

Today, we are going to start off with our purpose for creating the survey in the first place.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is a critical business objective for most organisations. The business case for D&I is well documented and it is now rare for organisations not to have a D&I strategy or staff in D&I roles.

Many would say that this is not a new phenomenon. Some organisations have been focused on this for decades, whilst others are still relatively new to their approach to D&I. It is clear that a lot of focus, time and effort is going into the subject. However, most of this effort is done by a small proportion of an organisation’s workforce and often as a “side of the desk” activity.

Very few organisations are creating strategic D&I programmes that aim to create a paradigm shift on both the diverse make-up of their organisations or making the whole organisation feel included. In some ways, this is not surprising – it is likely that this is not seen as a core mission for the organisation (given it is often seen as a societal problem) and many realise how difficult and complex the task is.

In other ways, it is quite surprising given the well-researched financial impacts of not getting in right. The organisations who commissioned this survey are strong believers in this business case and want to help organisations find the right approaches to solve these problems. But, how do we know we are making progress?

At a surface level, measuring Diversity is easy. Organisations can aim to count the number of women, the number of people from an ethnic background, etc. and set targets for managers to increase their proportions of their staff from these typically under-represented groups. However, there are challenges to this approach – people are not always comfortable sharing their personal characteristics, for example – and it is possible that this can give rise to feelings of exclusion from groups who do not seem themselves as diverse.

In addition, the data on the workplace demographic so that it accurately reflects the community in which the organisation sits remain stubbornly difficult to shift. Although there is some level of progress for certain characteristics at certain levels (e.g. women on boards), all data sources continue to show, for example, women and people from an ethnic background attain managerial or senior level positions far less often, proportionately, than there colleagues who are white and male.

Some of the benefits from Diversity are derived from diversity of thought related to different experiences which means the focus on external characteristics may not yield all of the results an organisation is looking for.

Inclusion, however, is different. Inclusion aims to ensure that everyone feels comfortable bringing their full talents and capabilities to work and having a sense that the world of work is fair and does not discriminate against them. They want to know that they will have an equal chance of contributing, of having their ideas valued, that they will get equal access to the career-enhancing opportunities and to the people who make that happen.

The benefits of inclusion are overwhelming – to staff retention, to staff performance, to productivity, to positive mental and physical health; fundamentally, to staff happiness. It is an essential ingredient to company success. So how do we measure Inclusion?

This is what this survey aims to do. Based on the ground-breaking “Collaborating with Men” research programme created by Dr Jill Armstrong, a founding Director of Men for Inclusion, and Jason Ghaboos, the survey specifically asks about barriers that affect the careers of women.

Now these barriers were based on the research from a gender perspective, but with the work we do at Men for Inclusion, we believe that many of these barriers are applicable to other groups who get a raw deal in the workplace. And these barriers are the essence of an inclusive workplace.

Hence, this survey aims to create a set of benchmarks for measuring Inclusion. It is a “state of the nation” view on the experience of people in the workplace. We want to help organisations with a greater level of insight on where workplace challenges around Diversity and Inclusion exist. We want to create intelligence on these experiences which can be shared with others to create better options for improving them.

We want to enable organisations to benchmark themselves against this data to know where they are on their journey to an Inclusive workplace.

And for those who work in the D&I landscape, we want to be able to get the data that shows that the work we do is making a difference. Hence, we plan to run this survey on a regular basis to see how it changes over time. It is already giving us insight into what might have changed since Jill and Jason’s work from 2014 - 2019.

The survey aims to be a useful tool to anyone working in the D&I landscape and to organisations seeking to become more inclusive.

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