Newsletter: July 22, 2022

Tidbits: Why are diversity, equity, and inclusion important in your organization?

“Companies with more than 30 percent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all.” 

–McKinsey & Company: Diversity wins: How inclusion matters (May 19, 2020)  

At DecisionWise, we teach that respect is required of everyone, but disagreement does not equal disrespect. We can disagree with someone while simultaneously seeking to listen and understand why they feel the way they do.  

We too often dismiss another’s viewpoint without sincerely listening to them. In our view, the truest form of respect does not lie in total agreement; instead, it lies in supporting their right to openly share their thoughts and opinions without negative consequences. It also means having the courtesy to fully consider what they are saying, and if they share something that is true and sincere, acknowledge their contribution to the truth.  

Brilliant in the Basics: The Key to Great One-on-One Meetings: Empathetic Learning

A while back I read an article on that was truly insightful. I added it to my commonplace book and I refer to it often. This article, by Melanie Curtin, highlights the leadership efforts of CEO Kevin McMullin, who has a near-perfect employee retention rate at his company, CollegeWise.  

What is Mr. McMullin’s secret? He offers the key: 

We make it part of every manager’s responsibility to sit down and have one-to-ones with employees where the manager comes only with questions, and it’s the manager’s job to empathize and to learn. 

Mr. McMullin provides additional guidance by noting that the process is vital, too.  

The worst thing you can do is to just say “I have an open-door policy,” because that puts all the onus on the employees,” says McMullin. “If the manager goes first, most people will walk through that door and share their feedback. 

I encourage you to read Curtin’s full article. My takeaways are: 

  • Employees will share feedback but only when the managers go first; it’s not enough to say that you have an open-door policy. You need to invite them into your office and start asking questions. This will give them a chance to start talking.  
  • Make one-on-ones a mandatory activity. This will create a process or framework that supports effective feedback both up and down.  
  • Do not try and solve problems when you first solicit feedback. Seek to understand and listen with empathy.
  • Make it safe for your employees to share their thoughts, feelings, and sentiments. 

Pro Tip: Make one-on-ones mandatory at your organization and encourage your leaders to just listen. No problem solving during these sessions – just be empathetic!  

As noted in our last issue, we are focusing this month (July 2022) on ways to effectively measure DEI. We introduced our four-part DEI measurement model, which consists of the following elements: 

  • Voice 
  • Growth Opportunities 
  • Belonging 
  • Organizational Commitment 

This newsletter issue will focus on the last two elements: belonging and organizational commitment.  

When it comes to belonging, we recommend the following measures as effective statements to help understand the extent to which belonging is part of your employee experience.    

  1. I feel like I belong here. 
  2. The people I work with treat me with respect. 
  3. I feel comfortable in this organization’s culture. 
  4. My supervisor treats people with fairness and respect. 
  5. This organization cares about employees. 
  6. My supervisor cares about me as a person. 

Of the four parts in our model, our research suggests that a sense of “belongingness” is by far the most critical element. Over the past two decades, DecisionWise has collected over 50 million employee survey responses to understand the extent to which employees are engaged in their work. Belonging consistently ranks as the most important element we measure.  

Employees “belong” when they feel accepted, comfortable, and connected within the organization’s culture; they are excited and positive about their place in the organization – both currently and in the future. Interestingly, our research tells us that belonging is much more than a social connection to one’s team or teammates. This connection alone does not appear to be a crucial driver of employee engagement. Instead, an employee’s sense of belonging involves strong ties to the organization as a whole.  

The final element in our four-part model is organizational commitment. Here are the measures we recommend for this element: 

  1. [COMPANY NAME] attracts, develops, and retains people with diverse backgrounds 
  2. Employees here are treated equally regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation. 
  3. Creating an inclusive environment is a top priority for this organization. 

One thing we have learned is that belonging cannot exist without a strong connection to the organization as a whole. Therefore, organizational commitment is vital in obtaining a comprehensive view of an organization’s DEI efforts. Belonging can be described as a sense of “membership.” An employee experiences belonging within and from their organization when they feel that sense of membership. Membership comes when each employee can clearly articulate their purpose, path, and place within their organization.  

Again, we are discussing DEI this month to empower our clients with the tools and resources they need to more effectively measure DEI within their organization. To this end, our last two newsletters have focused on our four-part model. Additionally, we are releasing articles, infographics, and webinars that can also help our clients improve the ways in which they measure DEI.  

What’s Happening at DecisionWise


If you missed this month’s webinar on “How to Measure DEI in Your Engagement Survey”, it is now available to watch on demand. 



Check out our latest article “4 Important DEI Measures for Your Employee Survey


Subscribe to our People Science Newsletter for more great information on the latest HR and Organizational Development news.


HR News Roundup 

Here are some other great tips and resources from the past two weeks, curated to save you some time.

Newsletter: July 8, 2022


What do diversity, equity, and inclusion really mean within an organization? How do we move beyond superficial quotas to a point where our natures have truly changed such that all voices are valued and cherished?

We absolutely see the substantive case for diversity and inclusion. Diversity of thought, backgrounds, and perspectives yields a far better product, organization, and service mindset.

Goodwin would certainly know. She has studied some of the greatest leaders in history. She shows us that there are two parts to the equation: diversity, plus the freedom to speak without retaliation. Both are vital.

100%. As we discussed in our last issue, belonging is the key to both engagement and building a successful, substantive DEI program.

Brilliant in the Basics: Satisfaction Before Engagement

Today, I am writing this newsletter in an office that is far too hot. Our office’s air conditioning flunked out over the weekend, and we are waiting for the repair service to come. Most of my colleagues are crammed into the one cool area of the office. The rest of us are sweating it out, literally.

My dire situation reminds me of a key principle formulated by the British psychologist, Frederick Herzberg. Herzberg was the first to realize that satisfaction and dissatisfaction among employees cannot be measured along the same continuum but are two independent phenomena that operate differently. Herzberg labeled dissatisfaction elements as hygiene factors and elements that increase satisfaction, as motivators. Dissatisfaction elements (e.g., my boiling office), must be dealt with independently, and business leaders should not assume that an increase in satisfaction means a corresponding decrease in dissatisfaction.

Pro tip: We must first deal with pesky hygiene factors before we can work on other elements of the employee experience. Hence, you should ensure that your employee surveys address both satisfaction and engagement elements.

Remember, no amount of work on higher-level needs will be effective if basic satisfaction/hygiene challenges remain unaddressed. Just ask me about my sweltering office. I don’t care about my personal impact right now; I want the cold air to flow!

Much is currently being written and shared about improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the workplace. In our HR New Roundup section below, we highlight a few recent pieces. At DecisionWise, we hope to add to the conversation by helping organizations build listening programs that will help them better evaluate their DEI efforts. For the month of July, we will focus on DEI.

Our research has led us to a four-part model when measuring DEI:


Employees feel their thoughts and opinions are heard and reasonably considered in organizational decisions.

Growth Opportunities 

Employees feel they have opportunities and resources to develop and grow in the organization.


Employees feel accepted, comfortable, and connected within the organization’s culture.

Organizational Commitment

Employees feel the organization champions and sponsors diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In today’s issue, we will focus on Voice and Growth, covering the remaining two elements in our next issue.

The key to employee Voice is that employees must: (a) have a reasonable opportunity to be heard, and (b) be able to express themselves without fear of reprisal. Here are some suggested survey items you might include in your listening campaigns:

  • We listen to and value each other’s thoughts and opinions. 
  • This organization values employee input, feedback, and suggestions. 
  • I feel that I can share my ideas and opinions without fear of negative consequences. 
  • My supervisor regularly recognizes my efforts and contributions. 
  • This organization is responsive to ideas and suggestions for improvement. 

In the context of employee Growth, consider how you might use these potential statements: 

  • My supervisor supports my efforts to develop and grow. 
  • I am satisfied with the opportunities for my own professional growth in this organization. 
  • I have received the training I need to do my job well. 
  • I feel challenged and stretched in my job in a way that results in personal growth. 
  • I have the tools and resources I need to do my job well. 

However, asking these questions is not enough. You should also give care to the following issues:

Issue #1 Take time to load demographic information into your survey tool to evaluate how these items rank for those within diverse communities.

Issue #2 In this same vein, do not rely on self-reported demographics. Some respondents are subject to bias. They underreport their associations with minority populations, answering according to what they think is socially desirable or out of fear.

Issue #3 In the context of DEI, seriously consider using a third-party survey vendor to ensure confidentiality. Costs have decreased for survey administrations and using a third party demonstrates a commitment to getting the right data from your people confidentially. Again, let your employees know why this survey will be different and explain how you are committed to preserving confidentiality by using a third party.

Issue #4 Take time to specifically identify what diverse communities will be involved and consider whether the measures are appropriate to each of these communities. Would focus groups be better received?

Issue #5  Avoid pre-existing biases that may be ingrained within your culture. Consider this anecdote. Sheryl Sandberg, during her tenure at Google, was instrumental in creating designated parking spots for those who are pregnant. Google leaders asked themselves why it took so long to recognize this need. The answer: no leader with executive power had ever been pregnant before. This story begs this question: Does the group tasked with solving or measuring a problem possess sufficiently diverse perspectives to solve the underlying problem?

There is still much to be done with DEI. We are just getting started. Yet, at DecisionWise, we are so pleased to see the progress we are all making. Let’s keep the momentum rolling!

What’s Happening at DecisionWise


Care for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is critical for any modern organization. But how do you best measure the current state of DEI and surface opportunities for improvement?


HR News Roundup 

Here are some other great tips and resources from the past two weeks, curated to save you some time.