Deloitte’s Inclusive Leadership Assessment helps organisations harness diverse workforces

The application of psychometrics and a psychological understanding of inclusion were critical for building leaders’ inclusive capability in a measureable and evidence-based way.

Deloitte’s Inclusive Leadership Assessment (ILA), a novel psychometric tool, demonstrates that inclusive leadership corresponds with a 17% increase in perceived team performance, 20% increase in decision-making quality, and 29% increase in team collaboration. The design of the tool was based on the application of psychological theory, and it was empirically validated throughout its development. This unique initiative was recognised in 2017 by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Workplace Excellence Awards when it won the Emerging Directions in Organisational Psychology Award.

A team of Deloitte’s Psychologists and seasoned Human Capital Consultants, led by Partner Juliet Bourke, developed the assessment tool to help leaders at a Government Transportation Agency build their inclusive leadership capability. 

Bourke said that while most leaders agree that a diverse and inclusive culture is crucial for success, they are uncertain about what it means to be inclusive. “Our global surveys indicate that leaders believe in the business case for Diversity & Inclusion,” she said, “the problem is that leaders say they aren’t clear on exactly what they need to do to be inclusive. We designed the assessment to clearly define and measure inclusive actions, and position leaders for success in an increasingly diverse workforce.”

To date, the ILA has been used to assess over 340 executives by more than 2,600 staff across diverse industries and cultures, demonstrating that organisations are increasingly paying attention to diversity outcomes and wanting assessment tools and interventions that are robust, evidence-based and practical. 

In particular, Deloitte was recognised by the APS for its work with a Government Transport Agency and the administration of the ILA to the top 15 Executives, including the CEO. Following the assessment, the Agency received a group-wide report and debrief, while individual leaders received one-to-one debrief coaching sessions. Feedback on the program has been extremely positive, with the Agency later cascading the ILA more widely across its senior leaders throughout the organisation. 

Deloitte Human Capital Consultants and Registered Psychologists, Andrea Espedido, Dr Kat Page, Sam Fowler, Dr Artie Gindidis and Georgette Karvelas, who have played a pivotal role in the ILA’s development, spoke about the design of the ILA, which was based on the Deloitte team’s primary research of inclusive leaders. Espedido says, “An important feature of the ILA is that it exclusively assesses behaviours. The set of 33 tangible and observable behaviours captured by the tool can be directly applied and feel highly practical for leaders. Specific examples include asking for feedback on personal biases, regularly checking in with team members to ensure they feel included, and putting in accountability structures to mitigate exclusion. Because of this focus, the ILA offers measureable guidance on ways to be inclusive”. 

Espedido adds, “The assessment design was informed by an inclusion survey of over 4,000 employees, a comprehensive literature review, and a series of interviews. Deloitte’s team of Psychologists applied psychometric techniques to ensure the tool’s reliability and predictive validity”. 

Bourke, who has coached more than 100 global leaders using the ILA (including in the Government Transportation Agency) adds, “Through one-to-one coaching sessions, leaders are able to identify strengths and set developmental goals based on individualised feedback. The coaches use assessment results to guide each leader around what they could say or do to lead more inclusively, offering direction for how they could prioritise actions and measure their impact. The incorporation of a planning component at the completion of the ILA coaching session starts to turn behavioural insights into tactics to be more inclusive”. 

“At a group-level, the aggregated results of the ILA help a leadership cohort to align on their collective strengths and development areas, and therefore to identify areas of collective focus. The group debrief provides a platform for developing a shared understanding of how to develop an inclusive culture, while instilling a sense of group accountability. I can literally see the lightbulb go on as a result of the individual and group debriefs”.

“As workplaces become increasingly diverse, inclusive leadership capability will become paramount to a company’s reputation and the well-being of its workforce,” says Bourke. “Clear measurement of inclusive leadership capabilities, through the application of psychometrics and research, provides a strong platform for diverse organisations to flourish. I’m really proud of our team. It is the combination of deep technical expertise by our organisational psychologists and practical business consulting skills that has produced something innovative and highly impactful”.