Issues of equality and more generally of diversity and inclusion have been, for several years, part of the major concerns of organizations, and in particular of large companies. However, whether they are motivated by the simple respect of laws on non-discrimination, the personal conviction of leaders or the search for performance and increased reputation (APEC, 2015), the efforts made in favor of the equality and diversity have obviously not yet kept all their promises. This is the observation made by several surveys which still point the finger at discrimination linked to hiring and career development (TNS Opinion & Social for the Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers of the European Commission, 2015), wage inequalities between women and men (Eurostat, 2017) or the persistence of gender stereotypes (Mediaprism and Laboratoire de l’égalité, 2012). This is also the observation that we make in this study, which measures the perceptions of 767 employees of diversity and inclusion within their companies.
In addition to the findings, the study tested a number of hypotheses about how we might promote diversity and a climate of inclusion in our company. More specifically, the goals of this study are:
- Assess how employees judge their organizations in terms of diversity, gender equality and climate of inclusion;
- Reveal the representations they have about leaders and leadership;
- Measure the leadership style and effectiveness of respondents’ managers;
- Identify the links between diversity, inclusion, leadership and human performance.
WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
The concepts of diversity and inclusion training or gender equality are difficult to quantify. It is indeed possible, for example, to compare the proportions of women and men at each hierarchical level of a company without being able to truly assess the level of equality within this same company. Indeed, the mere fact of having comparable proportions of women and men at the different hierarchical levels does not indicate whether access to responsibilities takes place on equivalent bases in terms of effort and skills.
In this study, we decided to measure employees’ perception of diversity, inclusion and gender equality in their company using scientifically validated measurement tools. In particular, we relied on measurement scales. These are sets of questions that assess respondents’ perception of a complex concept (here, to what extent they find their company involved in issues of diversity, inclusion and equality in promotion of women and men).
REASSURING RESULTS BUT THERE IS STILL A LONG WAY TO GO
Employees who responded to our survey perceive their company to be relatively diverse and inclusive. The average rating awarded is 6.2/10 and 5.5/10 respectively . Regarding gender equality, respondents are more critical and give an average rating of 4.9/10 . We can therefore see that even if the results are not alarming, companies can do significantly better to ensure that their employees feel fully included and equal in the workplace.
Employees were surveyed through questions such as “My company has a culture in which differences are considered a strength” which are part of scientifically validated measurement scales of perceptions of diversity, the climate of inclusion and equality F/M. Scores are assigned between 0 and 10 (0 expresses the perception of a zero level; 10 expresses the perception of a perfect level).
DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN
The question then arose to determine whether women and men had the same perception of diversity, inclusion and gender equality in their company. The answer is no. The overall results in fact hide different perceptions depending on the gender of the respondent but also depending on whether they are managed by a woman or a man. Women are more critical in their perceptions than men, especially when it comes to equality. On average, female respondents judge their company to be less egalitarian than male respondents, with average ratings of 4.1/10 and 6.8/10 respectively . Are women more aware of the subject and therefore evaluate their business more harshly? Or do men not perceive all the inequalities still present, being themselves less concerned? The question remains open.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY LEADERSHIP?
For more than a century, researchers (in various fields such as psychology, political science, and management science) have been exploring and analyzing the concept of leadership. According to Northouse (2010): Leadership is therefore the ability of an individual to convince, motivate and federate a group of people without having to rely on their possible status or hierarchical position and without using means such as coercion, manipulation or dishonesty.
WOMEN, MEN AND LEADERSHIP: NO SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE
Frequently asked questions regarding the leadership of women and men are:
- Do women and men have equally effective leadership?
- Do women and men have the same way of exercising their leadership?
- According to the results of academic research (see Petit & Saint Michel, 2016), there is no significant difference between women and men in terms of leadership. This statement is verified on the managers of the respondents in our sample.