Bailey Edgell Senior Customer Success Coach at Culture Amp specializes in helping organizations use employee feedback to support diversity, inclusion and intersectionality initiatives at Culture Amp. At the 2019 Sapling Connect Summit, she spoke about ways to include these initiatives in your onboarding program.

What is Diversity, Inclusion, and Intersectionality?

Diversity – the range of human differences including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, social class, and others.
Inclusion – the act of making a person part of a group or collective where each is afforded the same rights and opportunities.
Intersectionality – considers different systems of oppression, specifically how they overlap and are compounded. It aims to understand how various aspects of a person’s identity can impact their living experience.

It is common for organizations to begin focusing specifically on diversity. They may begin by working to increase diversity in the hiring pipeline or for internal promotions by trying to attract under-represented minorities. These are good ways to start but focusing on diversity alone will not work if you do not have an inclusive culture. Diverse talent requires an inclusive environment that acknowledges their intersectional identities to thrive.

How to embed Inclusion into onboarding

Onboarding is your first opportunity to show employees that they can bring their full selves to work and they are welcome, regardless of identity. Onboarding is also an opportunity to show others how they can be a contributing part of that inclusive environment.

Key Experiences:

  • Organizational Values Sessions, where you can help employees understand that they are important to the organization. Show how diversity and inclusion intertwines with your values. Let new hires know this so they can become stewards of diversity and inclusion themselves.
  • Conduct an explore and affirming values exercise: have them ask questions such about their own values, why they are important and how they use them. Then ask, how those values relate to the company’s values? This exercise will help increase inclusion by helping employees see how their values fit with those of the organization.
  • Employee Resource Groups introductions – encourage ERG’s in your organization to support and advocate for employees of various identities. It is common to see ERG’s for women, LGTBQ, people of color etc. If your group has ERG’s, have these groups give an introduction and information during the onboarding session.

Inclusion in onboarding – some smaller signals that could lead to big changes

  • Highlight the experiences of your diverse leadership team. This allows employees from diverse experiences the opportunity to see themselves in leadership positions.
  • Create a way for people to share their pronouns. Put a pronoun and name field in addition to legal name wherever necessary in forms, directories, and profiles to help normalize the process.
  • Evaluate the physical environment for cues that might make some individuals question whether they will be respected. For example, Bailey says, “if photos in your office don’t include women or people of color, these groups may doubt their prospects at your organization. Walk around your office and evaluate the signals and the subtle messages that these images are sending to new hires”.
  • Watch out for words such as “guys”. Encourage gender-inclusive language in your greetings. Rather than saying “hey guys”, use words such as folks, everyone, friends or team.

Measuring your impact

Onboarding surveys are great measurement tools to see if a company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives are giving the expected outcomes. By using the initial survey as a baseline, we can track development over time and determine if our diversity and inclusion programs are successful.

Bailey recommends adding the following questions to your onboarding surveys:

  • I feel like I belong
  • I can be my authentic self at work
  • My company values diversity
  • Perspectives like mine are included in decision-making
  • My company believes that people can greatly improve their talents and abilities

Use demographic data to study and examine intersectionality results, because different individuals will have different experiences. This will give you more fine-tuned analytics.

In closing, Bailey encourages you to go beyond just diversity in your onboarding programs. Build an inclusive environment that acknowledges intersectional identities and embeds D&I concepts into your onboarding experience. You can measure your impact in an onboarding survey with questions focused on diversity and inclusion. If you include these concepts in your onboarding process, your efforts will speak to your employees of your dedication to not only diversity but also inclusion and intersectionality across your organization.


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Measuring Inclusion and Intersectionality in Your Onboarding- Connect Recap