Cultivating an Inclusive Culture Through Personal Networks

Essay by Rob Cross, Kevin Oakes, and Connor Cross: “Many organizations have ramped up their investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion — largely in the form of anti-bias training, employee resource groups, mentoring programs, and added DEI functions and roles. But gauging the effectiveness of these measures has been a challenge….

We’re finding that organizations can get a clearer picture of employee experience by analyzing people’s network connections. They can begin to see whether DEI programs are producing the collaboration and interactions needed to help people from various demographic groups gain their footing quickly and become truly integrated.

In particular, network analysis reveals when and why people seek out individuals for information, ideas, career advice, personal support, or mentorship. In the Connected Commons, a research consortium, we have mapped organizational networks for over 20 years and have frequently been able to overlay gender data on network diagrams to identify drivers of inclusion. Extensive quantitative and qualitative research on this front has helped us understand behaviors that promote more rapid and effective integration of women after they are hired. For example, research reveals the importance of fostering collaboration across functional and geographic divides (while avoiding collaborative burnout) and cultivating energy through network connections….(More)”