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Measuring workplace inclusion has become crucial in today’s business world, as companies strive to cultivate strong workplace cultures that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). According to Deloitte’s Leadership Center of Inclusion study, 80% of employees consider inclusion a critical factor when choosing an employer, while nearly 40% would switch to a more inclusive organization. 

A culture of inclusion is, without a doubt, critical to achieving success in all aspects of your business. And one aspect where it really matters? Retention – especially for millennial and Gen Z employees. More data from Deloitte shows that 69% of these young workers are more likely to remain with an organization for five or more years if it has a diverse workforce. And according to research by Glassdoor, a whopping 76% of employees consider DEI in company strategy to be a “non-negotiable” factor. 

Here’s what it comes down to: if companies want to attract and retain top talent in today’s diverse workforce, they’ve got to make inclusion a priority. And that means creating a workplace culture that values diversity and makes everyone feel welcome and supported. 

In this exclusive interview, Lisa Russell, CEO of Aleria, shares her insights on measuring workplace inclusion and fostering an inclusive company culture. With her years of experience in DEI, Lisa breaks down simple ways to gauge the inclusivity of your workplace and offers practical solutions to create a culture of belonging.

With Lisa’s strategies, any company can build a more inclusive workplace where employees feel valued, respected, and supported. Keep reading to find out how your company can measure and prioritize inclusion as a core part of its culture.

An African-American woman working with her computer on her lap. She is smiling at her screen.

Why measuring inclusion in the workplace matters

For Lisa, measuring inclusion in the workplace isn’t just about employee satisfaction – it’s also about the bottom line. 

“We’re looking to understand the day-to-day experiences of employees and use that information to pinpoint where business leaders can decide where to focus their resources and really drive impact. That impact is in employee satisfaction, but ultimately, also business performance. That’s really what we’re looking to do – we want to make it easy for folks to make the right decisions as they look to drive more diverse and inclusive workplaces.

Ultimately, making employees feel valued is one of the easiest ways to improve productivity and profits.

I genuinely believe that we can and should have more business leaders who are approaching everyday business differently, right? We need more entrepreneurs that can accept that. We have this opportunity to not only prioritize purpose and impact, but also drive profit. And those things don’t have to be at odds with one another.”

Lisa Russell’s inspiration behind measuring workplace inclusion

For Lisa, measuring inclusion in the workplace isn’t only about driving impact. Her passion for her mission truly comes from her upbringing.

“I have a personal mission to remove barriers for folks. A few months after I graduated high school, my mother and her husband went to prison. Almost immediately, I was able to see how society expected less from me and gave me access to fewer opportunities – all as a result of something that really had nothing to do with me or anything that I could control.

That experience changed the way that I see the world and put me on the path where I am today. I work each day to understand and highlight opportunities to truly remove these barriers from the day-to-day experiences of folks and make things more equitable.

Over the course of my life, that began to look very different. Early in my career, I focused on community building, educating and creating opportunities for meaningful connections – really, just opening doors for folks.”

The birth of Aleria started when Lisa met her co-founder, Paolo Gaudiano.

“Paolo is a complexity scientist who studied ways to measure and predict the outcomes of changes in behaviors in the workplace. We took his foundational academic research, developed the product – our process and the frameworks that we’re using today. We’ve been working together ever since. For the past five years, we’ve taken the application of his underlying research and applied it to the workplace to help folks understand what impact and outcomes they can drive through change behavior.”

An Asian woman works remotely with her computer and tablet on her desk. She is smiling while her daughter hugs her.

How Aleria creates an inclusive culture

Aleria’s culture is cultivated through its mission and data-driven approach, developed as a team effort. 

“We are on this mission to change the way people think about diversity and inclusion, but more importantly, what they do about it. We’re also data-informed in how we make decisions, both internally and externally. We’re also impact focused. We hold ourselves accountable for measuring and understanding the impact that our work has on folks on a day-to-day basis.

One thing that’s truly foundational to our culture is that as a team, we’ve collectively developed a very intentional set of values that guide how we work, who we work with and how we prioritize things.” 

A unique factor that shapes Aleria’s cultural approach? Unsurprisingly, their own work. 

“Realistically, it becomes a bit of a harsh mirror sometimes. We are constantly talking about how to improve the employee experience in other settings, or flagging opportunities for other organizations to do better.

That naturally sets a very high bar amongst our team and our employees internally. Everyone on our team is aware of ways to measure and create inclusive organizations. We’re a constant work in progress because of it.”

From past to present: Aleria’s challenges

“We’ve been in business for over five years, but the earliest days of that work really looked like consulting. As we were developing, we really wanted to ask ourselves, ‘How do we measure inclusion?’ and ‘How do we drive change?’”

While Aleria’s mission has remained the same, the way they’ve executed their work has changed as their client base grew bigger.

“We launched technology to enable it to scale in mid-2020. And then more recently – last year – we rebuilt the product from the ground up and launched a new version that was more in line with your typical B2B SaaS startup. Our mission has always been the same, but how we deliver on that mission has evolved at least a couple of times at this point. 

With each of those iterations, we find that our day-to-day looks different. The people we need on our team look different, who we’re selling to might look different. Being able to maintain culture and folks’ sense of value and recognition in the organization through those shifts was always very challenging. 

We made sure we were over-communicating, and that folks had that level of transparency that allowed them to be comfortable. We made sure we were still recognizing them for their contributions, even if the contributions look different than they might have a couple weeks ago when we were selling something different.

That’s really on business leaders themselves. As we’re navigating pivots and redrawing the boundaries of what business is, we have to make sure that we’re keeping folks looped in and letting them know that we still value what they’re doing.” 

How day-to-day interactions shape workplace inclusion and culture

For Lisa, the connection between workplace inclusion and culture lies in the day-to-day interactions we build with employees.

“One of the clear findings that we’ve seen over the last couple years is this idea that it’s not policies or systems that make folks feel more included or supported. It’s people – it’s individual interactions. I’d encourage everyone to take it on themselves and think about the one thing that you can do as an individual to make one person in your company feel a little bit more included each day.” 

Companies like Aleria have already built systems of recognition throughout their employee experience, but has yours? 

Building systems of culture from scratch is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Airspeed has recently launched a suite of Slack apps to help you build moments of recognition and appreciation for every employee. Whether you want to introduce new hires, give kudos, celebrate work birthdays/anniversaries, start meetings with icebreakers, or see where your teammates are – we have an app for that.

Ready to build an inclusive workplace culture? Unlock free early access and get started with Airspeed.

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