The answer to disengaged employees is diversity and inclusion

Roundpegg, the culture management company, recently released the results of a study on the relationship between diversity and inclusion on engagement, working with Nike. The results are compelling: highly diverse teams are 13 times more likely to be engaged than the least diverse teams.

The company had 555 participants, and found that with every 10% increase in diversity there was a 6% increase in engagement.

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Inclusion has an even greater effect on engagement. As Brent Daily, the COO of Roundpegg, wrote in the report,

All of us are able to contribute more and have a desire to do so when we are able to be ourselves in the workplace. When we are comfortable throwing out thoughts and ideas without having to filter them prior.

Feeling included as a member of a team is one of the most critical element to engagement. This is not only borne out from the research here, but by decades of study looking at how well people fit their environment. The quantitative results show when people share common values with their manager, teammates and with the company they are far more engaged, perform better and stay longer.

The magnitude of the importance of inclusion is highlighted when reviewing the likelihood one is highly engaged when on a highly inclusive team versus one in the bottom quartile of inclusiveness – 82x more likely to be highly engaged. And more than twice as likely to be engaged versus those teams who are moderately inclusive.

Yes, 82 times more likely to be engaged.

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The takeaway is simple: seek greater diversity in teams, and work to engender a spirit of inclusiveness. The result can be a doubling of engagement on average. Note that increasing diversity without inclusion is retrograde: engagement falls without inclusion.

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Asked about the study, Shawna Seiber-Walz, the former senior director of diversity and inclusion at Nike, said

Nike is a growth company and the key to that growth is innovation. To continually innovate, you must have employees who are engaged and contributing a diversity of perspectives. We know that without engagement you get marginal improvements. With it, comes exponential improvements. That’s why we needed to understand the relationship of diversity and inclusion to better business outcomes.

We’d always known diversity and inclusion were important but were amazed at the level each affected a team’s engagement. The most inclusive teams were 82x more likely to be engaged than the least inclusive teams.

One thing we didn’t expect to find was that the positive effects of diversity were entirely mitigated without inclusion. In hindsight it may seem obvious, but it poignantly highlighted the role a manager must play to walk the line extracting differing points of view and making everyone feel their ideas are invited, welcomed and heard — even if their idea is not the ultimate outcome.