Workplace Inclusion: Ensuring Equality

A study of workplace inclusion in healthcare facilities says the inclusiveness of a workplace can be measured by a concrete set of six factors. The study was undertaken by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Lead author Dr. Jaya Aysola, MD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of General Internal Medicine and Assistant Dean of Inclusion and Diversity.  In June 2016, her team asked for respondents to share a time they witnessed or participated in a situation where they or a colleague was treated in a way that made them feel included, valued and welcome or excluded, devalued and unwelcome.

The results yielded six key factors that determine inclusivity:

· Presence of discrimination

· Silent witness (someone witnesses discrimination but is afraid to take action, and experiences anxiety and lower job performance as a result)

· Effectiveness of organizational leadership and mentors

· Interplay of hierarchy, recognition, and civility

· Support for work-life balance (and perceived or actual gender discrimination)

· Perceptions of exclusion from inclusion efforts

One finding of note is that environments lacking inclusion appeared to affect the well-being of those who either experienced or witnessed it.  Stress, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness, social isolation, and expendability were some of the consequences.

"Inclusion is integral to the health, well-being, productivity, and engagement of a diverse workforce," Dr. Aysola said. "When dedicating effort and resources to improve faculty, student, and/or employee wellness, it's short-sighted to leave inclusion out as if it's a separate and distinct entity."