Earlier this year, Deloitte and Global Women collaborated to research workplace inclusion in New Zealand. Globally, there has been a lot of research on inclusive workplace environments, but we were missing a view of the New Zealand-specific context.

To begin to understand the Kiwi context, we created a 40-item survey drawing from the Deloitte Inclusion Index, as well as a measure of business outcomes/performance, to ensure we had a robust measure of different elements of inclusion.

Through Deloitte and Global Women networks, we distributed the survey to the New Zealand public via email, LinkedIn and Twitter. And we were thrilled with the uptake, receiving over 700 responses from people in organisations all over New Zealand.

Within the 40-items of the survey were sub-elements of inclusion. One in particular looked at the Deloitte inclusion staircase which has three stairs of inclusion: 1) Fairness and Respect; 2) Value and Belonging; and 3) Confidence and Inspiration. Previous Deloitte research has shown that these three prongs operate as a staircase, whereby each level builds on the one before. Our current research supported this, indicating that overall New Zealand organisations are successfully creating a sense of fairness and respect for their people. However, the results reduce the further along the staircase you go, with lower results for value and belonging, and lower still for confidence and inspiration. This is reflective of a number of New Zealand organisations having commenced their inclusion journeys but needing to make some bold decisions to make further in-roads.

In addition to this, the survey results included the following insights:

  • Inclusion is 45% higher in organisations with merit-based processes for performance management, promotion and pay.

Deloitte research has shown that merit-based policies and processes are critical to employees’ perceptions of whether their organisation is supportive of, and committed to, diversity and inclusion. We know that many organisations around New Zealand have already begun their journey to improving their processes in these areas. In particular, we’ve seen an increasing number of organisations addressing their gender-pay gap, but organisations improving their policies must also ensure that they are implemented consistently, transparently and with accountability.

  • People earning $70,000 to $100,000 reported a significant dip in inclusion. However, women were over represented in this salary bracket.

Through further analysis using focus groups we found that this group tend to be at a cross-roads in their lives, e.g. considering buying a house, changing careers, having children. To identify ways to support this group that will be meaningful for them, organisations can apply the five stages of design thinking to engage employees and iteratively redesign facets of the work environment that may be creating barriers for them. Organisations can also support their people to identify opportunities to “zig-zag” across the organisation.

  • The more senior you are, and therefore more you earn, the more likely you are to feel included.

In part, this is likely a result of the typically leadership-focussed diversity and inclusion initiatives. Previously, most organisations have focussed their diversity and inclusion efforts at leadership and management levels, in response to the lack of female leaders. However, we are now seeing that the less senior members of our workforce, typically Millennials, are feeling lower levels of inclusion. Our results indicated that Millennials, and in particular millennial men, feel the lowest levels of workplace inclusion compared to Generation X and Baby Boomers. A significant number of Millennials simply feel their leaders pay “lip service” to diversity and inclusion, and will become quickly disillusioned with inauthentic organisations who don’t live up to their expectations. Workplaces need to embrace Millennials and make them part of the inclusion journey by including them in decision-making, and invest in their continuous learning and development.

  • Inclusion is ~29% higher in organisations where senior leaders and managers hold others to account and speak up when things are not inclusive.

Previous Deloitte research has indicated that the behaviours of leaders (senior executives or managers) can drive up to 70 percentage points of difference between the proportion of employees who feel highly included and the proportion of those who do not. Further, Deloitte identified the six signature traits of inclusive leaders, all of which are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. One particularly pertinent signature trait is commitment; a leader’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion stemming from their own personal values, as well as their belief in the business case for diversity and inclusion. The significance of this reality was reflected in Spark’s 2017 public commitment to address the way they speak, interact and behave. Simon Moutter announced the organisation’s commitment to call out all non-inclusive behaviours and be open and honest about their commitment to diversity.

For more on the results and the key actions organisations can be doing to drive an inclusive workplace, please read our full report

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