Group of diverse individuals in a boardroom.


Measuring impact to foster diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces

Silke Muenster, Chief Diversity Officer, Philip Morris International


Initiatives to cultivate diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace are no longer just nice to have—they’re business critical.

Leaders who embrace the true value of DE&I are laying the foundations for employees to speak up without fear of judgment, share their ideas and be heard.

When employees are free to be their authentic and best selves, everyone benefits—from the company to society at large.

Why? Because unlocking the potential of every employee sows the seeds of innovation, success and meaningful change that stretches far beyond the four walls of an organization.

There is ample evidence that a fair, equitable and inclusive work environment will improve wellbeing and productivity.

What is significantly more complex is how we identify and address the deficiencies and weak spots that will inevitably exist in every company.

That’s why exploring different avenues to paint a clearer picture of the state of inclusion today is vital work. After all, only what gets measured gets done.

Employees who can raise complex issues with their managers and fellow team members feel psychologically much stronger than those who aren’t.

Establishing psychological safety

The IMD’s research highlights the need for a more exhaustive approach that examines all six key dimensions of inclusion: psychological safety, uniqueness, fairness, participation, belonging and authenticity.

Of these, psychological safety—the belief you won’t be reprimanded for voicing ideas and concerns or making mistakes—is a key parameter.

Organizations where psychological safety is firmly embedded in the company culture are more likely to innovate quickly and adapt to change.

This highlights its critical role in building a workplace that embraces a diverse range of people and perspectives, providing all with the freedom to speak up and be heard.

Our research has shown that those employees who can raise complex issues with their managers and fellow team members feel psychologically much stronger than those who aren’t.

Therefore, leaders play a pivotal role in establishing psychologically safe spaces.

All it really takes is the ability to act curiously, ask questions, listen to employees, encourage alternative opinions and demonstrate humility.

Investing in inclusivity

Unfortunately, that safe environment is not yet universally established. A recent international survey carried out by Povaddo for PMI revealed that 51 percent of workers had felt personally excluded in their current or former workplace.

The poll surveyed over 5,000 employees from medium to large companies, in six countries and found that almost a third of workers (27 percent) don’t feel safe and comfortable speaking up on inclusion issues in their workplace. This number rises to 36 percent among employees in non-management positions.

There are no quick fixes to many of the issues that exist. Comprehensively gauging the six dimensions of inclusion—psychological safety, uniqueness, fairness, participation, belonging and authenticity—is an important starting point.

At PMI over the coming months, we will be testing a new pulse tool called the Inclusion Net Promotor Score (iNPS)—as recommended by the IMD.

The iNPS is an easily implementable way—in terms of both time and cost—to obtain quantitative information.

The research also recommends additional qualitative methods—such as face-to-face open-ended conversations with employees.

Despite the long road ahead, this pioneering study provides key insights and tools to develop and cement cultures where everyone is accepted and celebrated for who they are.

As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to turn these recommendations into meaningful actions.

The end goal for PMI? To establish a work environment that enables each employee to operate at full potential and help drive the innovation central to achieving our vision of a smoke-free future.

Silke Muenster is Chief Diversity Officer at Philip Morris International. She has recently expanded the focus of the company’s I&D strategy and established a number of global Employee Resources Groups (including on gender, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQ+ inclusion) with the purpose of creating a space for community and connection among employees, and to foster a sense of belonging, visibility, and greater understanding of different experiences and dimensions of diversity at PMI.