Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: In Conversation with Hani Nabeel

22nd Apr 24

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For many companies, the world of diversity, equity, and inclusion has assumed a complexity of scale that resembles an obstacle course set up on quicksand. What is the right way to navigate this terrain?

For this month’s blog we are bringing you something a little different- an ‘In Conversation’ piece with Hani Nabeel, the Chief Behavioural Scientist at iPsychTec, iPsychTec, a world-leading people analytics and behavioural science institution. Hani is an individual who can offer an insightful way forward.

Inclusion is the act of accepting and involving people regardless of their differences, this act leads to an environment where everyone feels respected and valued.

Let’s start from the beginning.

We asked Hani how he would define and describe:
Diversity?
Equity?
Inclusion?

“Diversity is the mindfulness for all dimensions of human differences. Inside organisations, it is often translated into a deliberate process to demonstrate how many different types of people, by demographics, are hired and promoted.”

“Equity is having an egalitarian environment and the policies that service equality where people of all differences, genders, races, and ethnicities, etc. are treated in an equal manner. This results in equal opportunities for all.”

“Inclusion is the act of including people regardless of their differences, this act leads to an environment where everyone feels respected and valued.”

Many DE&I programmes or initiatives appear to struggle, why?

“In part because they want to run, before they can walk. There is a “Get Me There Right Away” outlook which even if sincerely meant undermines the sustainability of the ambition. This is not an area where a zero to 100mph mindset is advisable. There are steps that you need to take one at a time.”

What are those steps?

“Inclusion should be the first because it is an act. Equity follows Inclusion. Diversity completes this.”

We all have biases, in the sense of dispositions of various forms. This in itself is not an issue. It is when we fail to recognise this and ignore the fact that we are taking decisions based on our biases and thus acting on our biases – or weaponizing our biases - that the troubles start to mount.

Is the elephant in the room, the root cause of what the issue really is, workplace culture?

“Yes, in that superimposing any variation of DE&I (or as I have asserted IE&D) on top of a hostile workplace culture is doomed to failure. This requires consistent leadership from the very top.”

What about unconscious bias? Does it have an impact upon this agenda?

“We all have biases, in the sense of dispositions of various forms. This in itself is not an issue. It is when we fail to recognise this and ignore the fact that we are taking decisions based on our biases and thus acting on our biases – or weaponizing our biases - that is when troubles start to mount.”

How can behavioural science help?

“It can give you the important steps towards inclusion. These are leading indicators. They allow you to understand cultural influences. These in turn tend to cause certain outcomes to occur. From there you can enter into the world of predictive analytics. That enables foresight to be developed. Simply put, you can identify do we have inclusion or not?

In the case of inclusion, we are measuring behaviours. For equity, we are seeking environmental measures of what will drive equality. For diversity, the measures that tend to be adopted are too often a simplistic pattern of percentages for example, has our diversity % increased for recruitment and promotion?

Should we be redefining the metrics to measure DE&I impact and effectiveness?

“Again, we need to split these words and concepts and employ the relevant metrics to them. In the case of inclusion, we are measuring behaviours. For equity, we are seeking environmental measures of what will drive equality. For diversity, the measures that tend to be adopted are too often a simplistic pattern of percentages for example, has our diversity % increased for recruitment and promotion? This is understandable because it is easily understood but without the right I and E it will often fail. I like to think of it as akin to eating soup with a fork. It may taste great, but it is hardly a whole meal.”

Explain what a workplace culture programme to support and take advantage of DE&I should look like?

“Start with inclusion. Apply the metrics there. Work on enterprises and incentives to change adverse behaviour here first and foremost. If that platform is sound then the focus can be moved on to equity and diversity . This approach gives the programme a much stronger chance of meaningful success.

To close?

“Separate and reorder the words [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion]. Understand them. Apply the metrics.”

And we would echo..’ Don’t try to eat soup with a fork!’

Want to hear more?

You can contact Hani at hani.nabeel@ipsychtec.com