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Diversity and inclusion is an important focus for many organizations. But at its core, D&I is about more than maintaining equal numbers of individuals from different groups. You can fill your quota, so to speak, but what are you doing at a company culture level to be a truly inclusive employer?

This was the topic of conversation for our company culture experts, Oliver Staehelin and Catherine Spence, who were recently featured on Business Radio “In the Workplace” by The Wharton School of Business.

What cultural markers lead to issues such as gender inequality?

Catherine and Oliver answered by explaining how measuring cultural values and alignment can reveal high-risk red flags where companies need to investigate what’s going within their organization.

Catherine: “What we’re asking employees is to observe the culture around them. We ask them things like, ‘What behaviors are valued and rewarded your organization?’ If we get different answers from men and women — for example, if women don’t feel that there’s a highly collaberative environment, but men do — then that indicates there’s some dynamic at play that’s separating the experience of men and women.

“There might be additional pieces of data that can be pulled in, like unequal promotion practices, for example, or higher turnover rate for women. So when we layer our data onto additional data that’s accessible to HR teams, we can really paint a picture with concrete clues for what might be going on in this company. Then we can structure some targeted questions that would be worth exploring in a focus group setting.”

Oliver: “Transparency is another marker of gender-related issues in the workplace. This happens when the flow of information may not be making its way to all folks and stakeholders in a similar fashion. There might be a small group that’s retaining all of the information and therefore isolating the rest of the organization.”

What risk factors make a company more susceptible to gender inequality?

Catherine: “Companies that start out with a commitment to diversity and inclusion very early on tend to put themselves in a better position down the line. It is a lot harder to change course with your culture and cultural practices once things have already been embedded. So for companies that are in that early-stage growth phase, it is immensely beneficial to focus on diversity and inclusion early on. Having visible female executives is a really powerful signal and really does make a difference in terms of influencing the company culture.”

To listen to the full interview, check out Wharton Business Radio: In The Workplace with Oliver Staehelin and Catherine Spence

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