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Defining and Measuring Inclusion: How to Get it Right

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

I was recently reading a report from Gallup entitled “Advancing DEI Initiatives: A Guide for Organizational Leaders.” Within this report, the survey giant presents their inclusion survey items, along with their definitions of the core concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Reading these definitions and items, I was struck by how so many folks doing this work seem to be missing the mark on what inclusion really means and how we should all be measuring it.

Defining Inclusion

Gallup defines inclusion as "an environment that makes people feel welcome, respected and valued". Taking a measurement lens, the immediate challenge we are faced with is how do you measure an environment? Further, from an intervention perspective, how does one fix an environment?

When we frame inclusion as an environment, we take the onus of responsibility off of the individual and what it is that each person should do in order to foster inclusion.

So, how do we at Mattingly define inclusion? It has to be about behaviors. In the context of this definition from Gallup, what are the behaviors that are enacted on someone that make them feel welcome, respected, and valued?

Often when we define inclusion, there is an overlap of two distinct constructs: what is happening (an inclusive behavior) and the result of that action (a feeling of belonging). By intertwining actions and outcomes, it becomes very difficult to both assess and improve inclusion in an organization.

Measuring Inclusion

Moving onto the items Gallup uses to assess inclusion, we again see that there are challenges in identifying individuals' experiences of inclusion when our definition lacks distinction between actions and feelings.

The Gallup inclusion items include:

  • At work, I am treated with respect

  • My current employer is committed to building the strengths of each employee.

  • If I raised a concern about ethics and integrity, I am confident my employer would do what is right.

  • At work, I feel comfortable being myself.

  • I feel like a valued member of my team.

  • My supervisor creates an environment that is trusting and open.

  • I have the freedom to make the decisions I need to do my job well.

Some of these items are good examples of inclusion as behavior, especially the item around one’s supervisor creating a trusting and open environment. We see here an example of a behavior from a specific individual. The other items, especially those starting with “I feel...” are more about belonging than inclusion.

When we measure inclusion, the goal should be the other half of the equation that leads to belonging, or the actions that lead to individuals feeling valued, respected, seen, and heard.

Here at Mattingly, we define inclusion as “actions that make others feel valued, respected, seen, and heard. Inclusive behaviors enable members from different identity groups to fully contribute their unique perspectives and contributions to the workplace.” (Read more about inclusive behaviors in our book, Inclusalytics).

Looking to assess inclusion in your organization? We have a scientifically valid instrument that measures inclusion in terms of behaviors and belonging in terms of feeling. Contact Mattingly Solutions today to learn more about the Mattingly Inclusion & Belonging Assessment (MIBATM).


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