Measuring and implementing inclusive culture

Measuring and implementing inclusive culture

In June 2016, the team used a novel method developed by Frances Barg, MD, a professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, to gather 315 anonymous stories about experiences with inclusion or lack thereof in response to two open-ended questions posed to employees, faculty, and students of four health science schools and six hospitals, including a children’s hospital and a Veterans Affairs medical center. The first question asked for respondents to share a time they witnessed or participated in a situation where they or a colleague was treated in a way that made them feel either included, valued, and welcome or excluded, devalued, and unwelcome. The second asked for comment on how the respondent perceived the general climate at the organization with regards to inclusion and respect.

The narrative responses came from diverse populations across many dimensions representing but not limited to ethnicity, religion, sexual orientations, gender identity, and disability status. The results yielded six key factors that contribute to inclusivity: presence of discrimination; silent witness (in which someone witnesses discrimination but is afraid to take action, and experiences anxiety and lower job performance as a result); effectiveness of organizational leadership and mentors; interplay of hierarchy, recognition, and civility; support for work-life balance (and the perceived or actual gender discrimination that sometimes results) and perceptions of exclusion from inclusion efforts.

The responses also revealed the resulting effects when a workplace is not inclusive. Environments lacking inclusion appeared to impact the wellbeing of those that either experienced or witnessed it alike, and caused stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness, social isolation, and expendability. As one bystander expressed about the department’s approach to an injured colleague, “It left me worried about how I would be treated if I were disabled.” Narratives often described how micro-aggressions and favoritism eroded participants’ sense of value and thereby limited their engagement and contributions to the organization. As one respondent noted, “Needless to say, I felt exceptionally excluded and no longer want to be engaged in [this organization].”

Source: Ensuring equality: Penn develops method to measure and operationalize inclusive culture

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