New workplace study says engaged management fosters staff belonging

Involved managers can increase a sense of belonging for staff and decrease turnover intent

A US study that examines the “relationship between diversity, equity and inclusion practices and a variety of workplace outcomes” has found that engaged management leads to better staff productivity and belonging.

The ‘Improving Workplace Culture Through Evidence-Based Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Practices’ published by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, global risk assessment firm Moody’s Corporation, and pro-business diversity firm, DiversityInc, found a “high correlation” between involved management and better employee engagement and job satisfaction, as well as a “sense of belonging and reduced turnover intent.”

Employee respondents said that “access to education and training and internal diversity partners” were the “most effective tools for empowering them to engage in speaking up behaviour at work”, suggesting that these provisions could bolster inclusivity, allyship, and better psychological safety for all workplace groups.

The study also revealed that “mentorship and sponsorship opportunities are essential for developing an inclusive climate.”

The findings also revealed some demographic trends about which workplace groups feel they engage more in and benefit from D&I practices. These include:

  • People of colour reported greater access to DEI practices than white employees. In many cases, Black employees felt that they had greater access to DEI practices than all other racial groups.
  • People of colour and women more strongly agreed that they engage in “speaking up” behaviour at work (e.g. speaking out against bias or promoting DEI in hiring processes and practices).
  • However, white women more strongly agreed that they engage in helping behavior at work relative to women of colour.
  • People of colour, particularly Black employees, reported greater turnover intent relative to white employees.

In terms of engaging with workplace D&I practices, the fact that minorities such as women and people of colour are doing so is a good sign for workplace equity. However the absence of white men taking part shows that diversity and inclusion discussions need to be opened up to include them, and to make them feel comfortable accessing support and engaging in inclusive behaviour, such as speaking up against bias or speaking up in support of D&I practices like inclusive hiring. Ultimately, if D&I practices aren’t embraced by all groups in the workplace, there won’t be enough influential allyship for groups that need the most support.

The fact that Black employees, in particular, expressed the highest turnover intent shows they need greater allyship from other groups including speaking up on D&I initiatives that could benefit them, as well as speaking out against any discrimination, but crucially that they need help with retention, where better mentorship and sponsorship opportunities could be beneficial and aid career progression.

Carolynn Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, DiversityInc said: “The report shows that while diverse workforces and inclusive cultures and policies are essential, measuring the impact is critical to the health and success of an organisation. Researchers found that managerial involvement, workplace policies, and mentoring and sponsorship programmes were the most common factors that shaped inclusivity in the workplace.

“In fact, 43.3% of employees’ affective commitment is driven by managerial involvement, and 51.5% of the experience of inclusion is driven by mentoring and sponsorship programmes. This data has the potential to inform leadership of the impact of their investment and reform infrastructural processes related to diversity and inclusion. We look forward to our continued work with Wharton as well as with US companies to create cultures where all employees can thrive.”

DK Bartley, Chief Diversity Officer, Moody’s Corporation added: “Moody’s understands the value of credible insights because data is what we do. Evidence-based research is especially relevant as companies look to shift their approach to DEI during a time of heightened awareness on gender, racial and social inequities. We’re proud to support the study and to share findings and recommendations that are instrumental to helping managers and companies advance their DEI efforts.”

To view the complete findings, please click here.
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