Research Agenda

Setting the Agenda for the First Years of The Inclusion Initiative at LSE

LSE has a history of doing research that helps the world understand the causes of things. I am therefore excited to support the launch of The Inclusion Initiative (TII) at LSE whose primary aim is to understand the causes of inclusion in the workplace, and also its direct knock on benefits to P&L, creativity and innovation at firm level.

Simon Hix, Pro Director for Research at LSE

The Inclusion Initiative (TII) aims to bring behavioural science insights to firms to allow them to enhance the inclusion of all talent, and simultaneously produce academically rigorous and relevant research that links directly to TII’s purpose.

TII also aims to produce research that has practical implications at the level of the firm.

TII’s research agenda has three main aims: 

  • First, to propose a viable proxy measure of inclusion.
  • Second, to quantify the direct link between inclusion and the core business outcomes it should theoretically improve, such as innovation, creativity and risk assessment both within and across firms.
  • Third, to propose to firms a menu of cost-effective interventions that could improve inclusion of all talent from pipeline to boardroom. We put emphasis on could because TII insists that all interventions should be rolled out and linked to the bottom line of the firm, or proxies thereof, so firms are confident there is a positive net present value. Via executive training TII will provide the methodology to do just that.

To set the research agenda for the first three years of TII, we embarked on a piece of qualitative research that involved interviewing senior leaders in TII’s first priority area, Financial and Professional Services, to learn their beliefs about best practice in terms of improving inclusion at the firm level, and the obstacles that stand in the way of progress. With these insights at hand, we set a research agenda for TII that will tackle the most commonly cited obstacles, drawing on current insights from the behavioural science literature. The Inclusion in the City paper outlines what this agenda is. The primary aim being to inspire firms to adopt some of the ideas in this paper for their own in-house inclusion agendas, with their own people. 

Read the report here


Summary of TII’s agenda for the London Financial and Professional Services Hub

Inclusion in the City

To bring behavioural science insights to firms to allow them to enhance the inclusion of all talent, while producing rigorous and relevant academic research.
Grace Lordan, Associate Professor in Behavioural Science, LSE
Karina Robinson, CEO of Robinson Hambro, a strategic advisory firm
Generic inclusion initiatives, such as unconscious bias training, are ineffective
Inclusivity is not about “more women” or “different ethnicities”; it is first and foremost a variety of life experiences
New interventions based on academic research can be tested and applied in a cost-effective way


1. Start by being more inclusive at the bottom of the pipeline (assessments, degree requirements)
2. Change minds about what a good candidate looks like (‘gut instincts’ and ‘culture fit’)
3. Ensure there is inclusivity in opportunities by auditing (appraisals and employee interactions)
4. Take steps to avoid groupthink in team meetings, so new perspectives get discussed
5. Embrace the fact that inclusivity is everyone’s problem (change requires a critical mass)
6. Recognise the role of environment (“context matters” and diversity is not an HR issue)
7. Recognise that more cooperative workplaces are in a firm’s best interest (common extrinsic goals)
8. Rethink attitudes to agile working (autonomy and wellbeing; stigma around childcare)
9. Rethink your perceptions about who your clients and customers are (status quo bias)
10. Speak to a different type of shareholder (credibility and transparency; public forums)
Discover the full research and learn more about each of the goals here.