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Inclusive Employee Experiences Start with Leaders

November 12, 2021



Inclusive Employee Experiences Start with Leaders

Inclusive Employee Experiences Start with Leaders

Gena Cox, Founder and CEO of Feels Human, is an industrial/organizational psychologist with expertise in measuring and supporting inclusive behaviors. She works with companies to build inclusive organizational cultures. Gena has deep understanding about human dynamics in the workplace and the critical role leaders play. This episode is how to create engaging and inclusive employee experiences which leaders are responsible for.


[2:57] How Gena got into industrial/organizational psychology.

[04:25] The odd subordination of the human element in business to the operational system.

[5:45] Gena’s positive early experience working at a company with a very purpose-built culture.

[07:03] How assessment and evaluation systems are inequitably applied.

[07:44] Leadership became Gena’s focus, recognizing the impact individual managers have.

[09:06] How Gena used her expertise in measuring employee opinions and employee experience at IBM.

[10:57] Navigating the ethical challenges associated with using artificial intelligence.

[12:40] Have you ever done an online search for ‘thought leader’? What comes up?

[15:18] Evaluating organizational effectiveness—measuring and identifying what’s missing?

[16:02] To improve productivity, organizations need to accept the criticality of managers’ behaviors.

[17:30] The (discounted) importance of human experience in the creation of business value.

[19:20] What happens when employees aren’t included and asked for their inputs.

[21:30] Why haven’t soft skills been emphasized in the workplace?

[22:35] How leaders study leadership but are not trained how to lead.

[26:20] The importance of psychological safety in effective teamwork.

[27:10] Most managers don’t feel safe to ask for help, setting them up for failure.

[28:30] Gena describes her unexpected experiences arriving in US for the first time at 20 years old as a person of color.

[31:34] How Gena’s experiences influenced her work as an I/O psychologist advising leaders.

[32:30] The problems with finding distinctions and sifting data—especially when insights are held back as leaders do not want to hear them.

[34:08] Who leaders should ask for valuable advice from.

[35:55] George Floyd’s murder caused Gena to recognize that she had been being fake.

[36:40] How and why Gena is now combining her I/O expertise and personal and observed experiences to share understanding and insights about inclusion with leaders.

[38:09] Stories from Gena’s childhood growing up in Barbados and the United Kingdom growing up.

[40:58] How to create an environment where everyone can flourish.

[42:33] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: Inclusion starts at the top, as a leader be convincing in articulating why it matters, establish expectations of behavior, and hold managers accountable.

[44:17] Does Gena feel discouraged?


“Industrial organizational psychology has always been about that human element.”

“We found in our research pretty consistently that it's really the manager that is at the core of the employee experience.”

“I would outlaw the use of the word soft skills. What I take that to mean is that the human experience is lesser than all of these other experiences that go into the creation of ‘the thing.’”

“In the context of leadership, it always includes the human experience.”

“I’m trying to shed light on the leader's role and creating an environment in which all of us can flourish.”

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