Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion4

Agile, Inclusion and Equity Research

Evan Leybourn

July 10, 2020


Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DE&I) and Business Agility are both practical and cultural necessities for modern businesses. In service of the entire workforce, the Business Agility Institute is sponsoring this research to discover how these two concepts interrelate, where we can do better, and opportunities for greater collaboration.

There is a widely held belief that agile, as it is often implemented, is more inclusive – but is this true?

If not, we may not be realising the enormous potential benefits agility can bring – but we may believe we are.

Through the lived experience of some people with diverse attributes, the recent trend towards agility has resulted in the introduction of ways of working and associated cultures that have made inclusion worse for them. For others, it may have improved the situation. It appears there has been limited conscious design of inclusion into the agile ecosystem, yet it has been introduced widely and thus removed many workarounds created by diverse individuals.

The final report is due in Q2, 2021. Please join our mailing list to be the first to know when this report in published. 

Learn More...

We will primarily conduct a qualitative study through interviews and an online survey exploring the following hypotheses:

  1. Despite the positive intent, mindset and values of Agile, Agile Organisations are at risk of further excluding marginalised staff and customers.
  2. That organisations who embed Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) directly into their agile transformations outperform those organisations who don’t.

If #1 and #2 are true, we will then consider what does a version of Agile look like that puts Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the heart?

Who will we be speaking with?

  • Agile Organisations & their staff
  • Anonymous Individuals Working In Agile Organisations – individuals who are not participating on behalf of an organisation
  • External Partners – individuals such as recruiters, contractors or suppliers who work with Agile Organisations
  • Potential Organisational Contributors – individuals who may not be within an Agile Organisation currently.

Note an Agile Organisation is one that can adapt quickly and is focused on customer needs.

This research aims to create useful and actionable insights that will be able to be used by individuals and organisations to drive positive change. This will require completion of 100+ interviews and 500+ online surveys. If you would like to see all the interview and survey questions ahead of time, you can see them all here.


  • Are expected to take 1 hour each over video, with a pre-interview demographics exercise that would take 5-10 mins for each individual.
  • Organisations will need to complete a Business Agility Institute (BAI) survey which would take 15-45 mins for an organisation if they haven’t already completed the survey.

For those not being interviewed, they can complete an online survey that will take around 20mins to complete

Final Report

At the conclusion of this research, we will produce a detailed report of our findings. All data is aggregated and anonymised with no personally identifiable or company identifying data included as detailed in the Privacy and Data Protection section.

The only exception to this is in the report acknowledgements where respondents may opt-in to be recognised.

The report itself will be released under a Creative Commons (Attribution, Share-Alike) license and will be freely available to download from the Business Agility Institute website.

We aim to release a final report in April 2021.

Why We Need Your Contribution

  • Supporting research into the relationship between Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Agile organisations
  • Staff across your organisation have the opportunity to share their unique experiences to make a difference
  • Enhance the understanding of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a powerful enabler of business performance and employee experience & wellbeing
  • Complete anonymity as an individual — being able to contribute your views anonymously, knowing they will be part of the final report.

Beyond contribution to the body of knowledge (and a feeling of satisfaction), as a thank you for your participation in this research, we would like to offer volunteer organisations:

  • A Business Agility Maturity Rating from the Business Agility Institute.
  • Your names and organisation role can be explicitly identified in the report acknowledgements or you can choose to remain anonymous.
  • Your organisation can be included (with logo) in the report acknowledgements to recognise your support or your company can choose to remain anonymous.


There may exist an opportunity to not only correct any negative inclusive impacts, but also go further and create a culture and way of working that materially improves workplace diversity as has never before been possible through the rethinking of the current practices. This is akin to applying modern principles of Human Centred Design and Universal Design principles as might be done when creating a product for a consumer to agile itself. The core of agile was created ~2001 via a group of non-diverse 17 white male engineers who had a very specific purpose – software engineering – in an era when many of the more modern design principles were not widely used.

The benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce can include increased innovation, better employee experiences, better customer outcomes and increased revenue as demonstrated through many recent studies – thus the business imperative is considered strong. Alternatively, a diverse workforce, without inclusion, can negatively impact businesses and teams and would be unlikely to produce any material benefit over a non-diverse team.

It also is very clear that, by not designing for inclusion (and even excluding some who were previously included) the strong ethical goals often associated with an agile culture are fundamentally being disregarded eg Respect, Courage, Inclusiveness and an Open/Growth Mindset.

Privacy and Data Protection


Due to the sensitive nature of what we may ask and the need to encourage respondents to be honest, we need to ensure a level of anonymity and safety. The following is our approach:-

  • All published results will be anonymised with no identifying or identifiable data.
  • No data will be sent to anyone outside the research team in order to protect the privacy of respondents.
  • Organisational level data will be stored within the team centrally.
  • Each organisation will be assigned a unique identifier which will be used for mapping to staff and other details to create a level of extraction.
  • Data of individuals will NOT have the name, email address (as often it has a name in it) and other contact details stored centrally – these will only be held by the interviewer for as long as needed to complete the interview and thank the interviewee/provide any outcomes to them.
  • Data of individuals, other than above exclusions, will be anonymously stored centrally with a unique identifier.
  • Sensitive data will not be sent via any channel (email etc) unencrypted.


The research team is using three separate systems to store different data.

  1. Sensitive (but anonymised) data will be stored centrally in Google cloud. Access to which is restricted to active researchers.
  2. Anonymised diversity demographic information will be collected and stored in Diversity Atlas. Link to Diversity Atlas Privacy Policy.
  3. Non-sensitive agile maturity information will be collected and stored in AgilityHealth. Link to AgilityHealth Privacy Policy.

Interview Recording (Optional)

There may be a need to temporarily record the interviews so that the interviewer can ensure they have correctly gathered the right data i.e. go back and check. Our approach is:-

  • The interviewee must agree to being recorded.
  • Remind the interviewee at the start of the interview that the recording will be deleted after the notes/results are captured (ie within a week or two).
  • Remind the interviewee not avoid the use of their own name nor any company names when recording is on.
  • Where possible, record audio only.
  • Recordings will not be uploaded centrally, rather stored securely locally by the interviewer only and then deleted as soon as the results from it have been documented.

Research Team

This research is being undertaken by a volunteer team of both professionals and academics; consisting of leaders experienced in either the Agile or D&I space. We are grateful for the insights and contributions from;

  • Ashay Saxena
  • Ashish Pradhan
  • Aviva Israel
  • David Mui
  • Deanna Spowart
  • Isabelle Kluger
  • Jazmin Chamizo
  • Jenny Tarwater
  • Rakesh Singh
  • Rezza Moieni
  • Ritu (Rituparna) Kar
  • Teresa Wong
  • Vanessa Humphrey
  • Yeu Wen Mak
  • Zita McKenzie Lubis



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