The Perception Gap: How Managers Leverage Data to Understand DE&I

By Keith L. Scott, MBA, PMP

In our personal lives, many of us may live in a homogeneous bubble where our only interaction with people that are different from us is at our place of work.  People, whether consciously or unconsciously, self-segregate.  In a post-COVID world, many employers have instituted remote work policies, therefore, shifting employee interactions from the office to virtual environments limiting us to only digital interaction.  This leaves us vulnerable to the whelms of social media to inform our cultural awareness and exposure – a recipe for disaster.   Management has a new challenge to overcome, how can organizational leaders create and sustain a diverse culture while fighting these headwinds?

At K.L. Scott & Associates, our consulting team administers a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Maturity Assessment for our clients that enables management to leverage a data-driven approach to understanding its organizational culture.  Our online survey assessment has three key elements – a diagnosis, perception gap analysis, and recommendations to mature and shift cultural change.    The data collected from the online survey provides insight into areas where management should focus in its effort to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture. 

When supporting our clients in their DE&I strategic planning efforts, our assessment has challenged leadership’s understanding of the existing culture and completely changed their perception.  We have found that there are misconceptions, misinformation, and stereotypes about diversity that can impact organizational initiatives.  There is a nomenclatural disconnect and management must promote a common language. 

Using a data-driven approach, our consulting team has provided insight into employee and management sentiments involving

  • Belonging, well-being, and psychological safety
  • Level of inclusion
  • Engagement level
  • Employee recruitment and retention

Revealing the gaps between management and employee perceptions about their culture allow an organization to have an accurate introspection of reality.  It is imperative that leaders administer two forms of the survey.  First, we recommend to our clients that an initial assessment will baseline their metrics, and second, we recommend an annual assessment to determine the effectiveness of cultural change initiatives. 

Changing the trajectory of organizational culture is not an easy undertaking.  But it is the responsibility of leadership to drive the culture.  Implementing a data-driven approach gives management a good foundational start.

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