Measurement and accountability in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB): Part 1 of 3 - The introduction

Measurement and accountability in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB): Part 1 of 3 - The introduction

DEIB and the unintended effects of workplace ostracism

As I sifted through the numerous articles on the topic of measurement and accountability in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), I was reminded of the many painful memories of my own past and current career whilst I felt ostracized at work.  The word ostracized, as used in the context of this blog, does not take on some of the extreme definitions found in the common dictionary, such as detested or hated.  Rather, the word ostracism is used in the context of felt exclusion – similar to terms used in research related to workplace ostracism (Howard, Cogswell, & Smith, 2019).  Of course, one could argue that the felt ostracism is an elusive concept; one contrived from individual consciousness and perhaps strengthened by the ‘sensitivity’ of the legatee.  And yet the pain of feeling ostracized is more than individual consciousness.  It is a feeling and action exploited consciously and unconsciously by the human spirit; and, it is human reasoning that makes feeling ostracized so painful.  Reasoning plays a powerful role in pain as it enables humans to anticipate their own pain which is then proceeded by mental and emotional discomfort.  C.S. Lewis explained it best when he described the human capacity to deal with pain as a journey between suffering and happiness where happiness is interposed during times that make pain bearable but when lost, the legatee is left with the emotional unhappiness of remembering what was once good (Lewis, 1996).

Research suggests that when individuals experience even minor or temporary forms of felt workplace ostracism, individuals subsequently experience significant levels of psychological distress and sadness (Howard, Cogswell, & Smith, 2019).  Fitting into a company’s culture is not easy for all new hires, and the creation of meaningful metrics and accountability in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is not simple.  For example, tracking diversity and equity comes with its own set of challenges because metrics are unique to each organization.  For those organizations who operate across the global landscape, there is also a need to focus on self-identification and how to define underrepresented segments across geographies.  Metrics related to inclusion and belonging rely heavily on employee perceptions of leadership and climate.     

The creation of meaningful metrics in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is not all science – it is also an art (Meaningful, 2018).  When organizations determine best practice metrics and accountability in DEIB they should also consider how to define reasonable and acceptable as to not fall victim to the insatiable demand for the exact measurement.  To complicate the topic of meaningful metrics, diversity and equity does not equal inclusion and belonging.  While many organizations may concentrate their efforts on building a workforce of people from different backgrounds, perspectives and, experiences, it is still possible for individuals to feel a lack of respect, acceptance, and support.  The result of isolation or felt ostracism is fear, rejection, isolation, low morale, and many other potential harmful effects to organizational performance.  If the topic of measurement and accountability in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging sparks your interest, please stay tuned for further blogs addressing measurement and accountability across the DEIB spectrum.  This series of blogs will conclude with belonging, which at present is sprouting in interest and acceptance as key to DEIB efforts.


Howard, M.C., Cogswell, J. E., & Smith, M. B. (2019). The antecedents and outcomes of workplace ostracism:  A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology. http://dx.doi.ord/10.1037/apl0000453.

Lewis, C. S. (1996). The problem of pain. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY.

Meaningful metrics for diversity and inclusion (2018).  Retrieved from:



Sandra Sessoms-Penny's picture Sandra Sessoms-Penny | December 31, 2021 7:03 pm MST

Dr. Murray

Thank you for the first in the series of your articles on the topic of measurement and accountability in DEIB. Of course, this sparks my interest because I never considered how DEIB components could be measured. Ostracism is a painful subject everywhere, especially in the workplace and places that should be deemed safe and nurturing, especially, if you are sharing goals and objectives. It is also interesting to understand how societal events have opened the proverbial can of things to learn more about to experience happiness, success and opportunities for growth. There are multiple pain points to be resolved beyond increasing our awareness and accepting responsibility for our actions. I am looking forward to learning more from you on this topic. Excellent introduction. 

Joy Taylor's picture Joy Taylor | January 10, 2022 9:11 am MST

Dr. Murray,

I enjoyed your first installment on DEIB and the unintented effects of  workplace ostracism. Your thoughts on  human reasoning caused me to reflect on how hard I tend to be on myself at times. This reasoning can lead to self-imposed feelings of being ostracized. As someone who retired a few years ago, I continue to resolve lingering feelings of wishing I had achieved more while on the job. The interesting situation I have found myself in many times since 2016, is that of being approached by someone who wants to say "Thank You." Comments regarding how much my leadership style is missed, wishing they still had someone at work to talk with and how I served as a mentor and role model for many have helped me to reflect on whether those feelings of being ostracized were justified. I am starting to realize that I missed an important factor when critiquing my work. I failed to use reasonable an acceptable metrics to measure my actions. I was striving for an exact measure which is not possible.The human spirit can never be fully understood or explained, but if we can establish reasonable and acceptable measures in DEIB strategies, that is a step in the right direction.

I look forward to your next installment. 

Visit Our Blog

Visit the Research Process Blog for insights and guidance from University researchers Go >>


Recent News