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Inclusion and Culture Listening Exercises

Course Introduction

Inclusive Group has been working with global institutions for 20 years around all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion (“DEI”). We have learned that even in organisations with a deep and longstanding commitment to DEI, cultural or behavioural blind spots can be common. When disparities emerge between an organisation’s commitment to DEI and the lived experience of their people, this can present talent risks, and lead to hurt or cynicism among staff. At a point where awareness around DEI and conduct has increased considerably, and employee tolerances and thresholds have shifted, it has perhaps never been more important for employers to take steps to identify and address cultural shortfalls and challenges.

The three phases of this work

There are typically three phases to this work:

  1. An optional short survey to gather a high-level overview of sentiment relating to inclusion and culture.  

  2. A series of confidential discussions, with a representative sample of colleagues. 

  3. A summary of key themes and recommendations based on our findings. Findings are presented in a written report and shared during a workshop with key stakeholders. 

Why use an external organisation to conduct a listening exercise?
We have found that participants often feel more comfortable speaking openly and candidly with a third party. We are seasoned in delivering sometimes challenging and uncomfortable insights to leadership teams in a way that is not threatening, and is underpinned by practical and pragmatic solutions, drawing on our extensive experience of driving DEI change across industries.

Key Objectives

Creating a structured opportunity for colleagues to share their experiences relating to workplace culture and inclusion provides a broad range of benefits for organisations, including:

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A means of measuring progress (for instance through repeating the exercise annually).

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A streamlined and efficient way to develop your understanding the lived experience of colleagues across locations and/or seniority levels.

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Access to a safe space, where staff feel seen and heard.

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A means of identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement relating to culture and inclusion.

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A powerful mechanism to galvanise leadership teams in relation to culture and inclusion.

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An opportunity to identify DEI and culture interventions which are authentic and impactful, allowing organisations to invest their limited DEI resources where they are most needed.

Our approach

We recommend where possible that listening exercises are conducted through a series of 1:1 discussions, where colleagues feel safe to be candid and open, with the confidence that their views will not be shared ‘outside of the room’. However, the exercise can also be conducted through a series of carefully moderated focus groups.


Each discussion is conducted by an Inclusive Group consultant with extensive DEI and HR experience.


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Each discussion typically takes 45 minutes per 1:1 and 90 minutes per focus group.

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Inclusive Group works with each organisation to agree a question set, which will be used during each meeting and can be shared with participants ahead of time. 

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