This article was written by Alexandra Kirienko, PhD candidate at the London School of Economics, along with the FSCB’s Senior Data Scientist Yuwei Zhang and former Senior Behavioural Scientists Carol Franceschini Rosie Almond and former Senior Data Scientist Alex Maloftis.
In order accurately to capture the concept of inclusion, we developed an ‘inclusion’ cluster score to be used in our analysis of data from our annual Employee Survey. The index is composed of the sum of the results of inclusion-related questions in the Survey. The composition of the index reflects the Survey questions on inclusion in each respective year.
In 2020 the questions related to whether the employee felt accepted by colleagues at work, felt able to be her or himself at work, and whether the employee felt able to use their initiative and judgement to carry out their work. In 2021 the inclusion questions additionally asked whether the employee felt excluded at work, was worried that people at work may draw conclusions based on stereotypes, and whether the employee felt included in the informal networks that mattered for her or his career.
Senior employees feel more included by colleagues than those at lower levels
Figure 1: Distribution of employees across three levels of seniority (senior managers, line manages, operational employees), and the proportion of employees at each level of seniority that score highly on the inclusion cluster score, based on 2021 data.
Looking at the FSCB 2021 survey data set across three seniority levels, senior management, line management and operational positions and across two gender identities, female and male (see more on our methodology). We examined how the proportion of employees that experienced higher levels of inclusion differed across seniority levels, the results of which are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1 shows that senior managers felt more included by their colleagues than did line managers, and that line managers felt more included than employees in operational positions. This indicates that feelings of inclusion vary according to organisational seniority. These findings are supported by regression results, which shows similar results when controlling for demographic differences across the respondent base at different seniority levels.
This study cannot provide insight on organisational practices that may or may not make employees feel more included by colleagues with increased seniority. However, recent exploratory analysis into employee reports of exclusion may allow for some provisional hypotheses. Our analysis of free text responses to the 2021 Employee Survey suggests that being invited to important meetings, being asked for input and kept in the loop on projects, and being listened to are actions more likely to be associated with feelings of inclusion. These actions are perhaps more likely to occur regularly for line managers and senior managers than other staff. It is therefore worth considering the extent to which senior and line management will be able to empathise when they hear about lack of inclusion at more operational levels.
Building on this analysis, we were able to use Employee Survey data to take into account the gender of employees at each level of seniority to get a more granular understanding of the full picture.
Feelings of inclusion differ by seniority and gender
Figure 2: Relative difference between the percentage of employees obtaining higher levels of inclusion cluster score, organised in terms of seniority levels (senior management, line management and operational positions) and whether they identify as female or male.
One of the most consistent findings over the seven years of FSCB Employee Surveys is that women tend on average to answer most survey questions more positively than do men. Exceptions to this include some questions relating to ethical behaviour and speaking up.
Our current research adds further depth to the picture. Figure 2 shows that an employee’s seniority level can affect how included employees may feel. For those in operational and line management positions, the data shows that women reported feeling more included by colleagues and men less so. However, among senior managers, women reported feeling less included by their colleagues than did men. As female respondents generally answer the Employee Survey more positively than male respondents, this reversal among senior employees on inclusion is striking.
While the reasons for these differences can only be hypothesised, previous research from behavioural sciences may provide a possible explanation. Toppe et al. (2020) have identified a causal relationship between the number of people that we recognise as our peers and how included we feel. People tend to feel more included if surrounded by others with similar characteristics. Because women account for less than 30% of senior management in financial services, they are less likely to find colleagues of the same gender, and this may have an impact on how included they feel. In operational positions, however, the higher proportion of female colleagues may influence them feeling more included at work.
This research highlights that there are important nuances within organisational cultures that can influence the extent to which an employee feels included or not. See more on our work on inclusion.
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BIS. (2022). FSI Insights on policy implementation no. 42 – Diversity and Inclusion – embracing the true colours in financial supervision. Bank for International Settlements – Financial Stability Institute, authored by Simelane, Nompumelelo; Yong, Jeffery.
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FCA. (2021, Oct 08). Diversity and inclusion in the financial sector – working together to drive change. Retrieved from Financial Conduct Authority: https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/discussion-papers/dp-21-2-diversity-and-inclusion-financial-sector-working-together-drive-change
Toppe, T., Hardecker, S., & Haun, D. (2020). Social inclusion increases over early childhood and is influenced by others’ group membership. Developmental psychology, 56(2), 324.
 The 2021 additional questions on inclusion were designed by the FSCB in collaboration with Dr Aneeta Rattan, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School.