Rachel Baghelai on Research in a Consulting Firm

Join Dr. Ben Butina in this enlightening episode of Department 12 as he engages in a compelling conversation with Dr. Rachel Baghelai. Dr. Baghelai recounts her unconventional journey into the world of Industrial-Organizational (IO) psychology, transitioning from banking to pursuing a graduate program at Elmhurst University. Delving into her evolution within the field, Dr. Bagley shares her shift from employee engagement surveys to becoming a passionate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant. The episode’s centerpiece is Dr. Bagley’s groundbreaking project at The Kaleidoscope Group, where she discusses the innovative methodology behind validating a DEI survey for the modern workplace. Through key driver analysis, correlations, regression, and factor analysis, she demonstrates how this approach prioritizes inclusivity, diverse demographics, and insightful data analysis. Tune in for a captivating exploration of bridging research and practice in IO psychology and DEI initiatives.


This transcript is AI-generated and may contain inaccuracies. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

00:00:00 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Department 12 where we talk about everything, IO sych. I’m your host Doctor, Ben Butina. And joining me today is Doctor Rachel Bagley. How are you today, Rachel?

00:00:14 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I’m doing great, doing great and.

00:00:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Happy to be here today.

00:00:17 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

How did you end up?

00:00:18 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Hearing about the world of iOS like.

00:00:20 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So I came to IO in a really convoluted way, so I went to undergrad when I was extremely young, so I was 16 and and nobody really knows what they want to do at that point in their life.

00:00:37 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

You know, when I got out of school, it was right after 911. I’ve found myself working in banking and finance and.

00:00:46 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

After several years of doing that, I realized that that’s not my passion and it’s not really.

00:00:53 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

What I wanted to do?

00:00:54 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So I was taking a lot of continuing education courses and some of the ones that I was taking allowed you to transfer credit to different universities so.

00:01:06 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I ended up finding Elmhurst University up back then it was Elmhurst College and I found this iocp sychology program.

00:01:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Program and I had.

00:01:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Worked on my business degree prior to that and had done, you know, a concentration in human resources.

00:01:23 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And I’m like.

00:01:24 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Well, this is kind of like that and.

00:01:25 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And some of these.

00:01:27 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Courses sound pretty fun, so I applied and I met with the head of the.

00:01:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Program and to this day I still thank him.

00:01:35 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

After that, he admitted.

00:01:37 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Me into the program.

00:01:39 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And within my first semester, I knew this was what I.

00:01:42 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Was supposed to do.

00:01:43 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And it really changed the trajectory of my entire life. So before I started my second year in that graduate program, I was working for Belterra, working with the Who’s who of Biopsychology and, you know, really seeing how my work could make a difference.

00:02:01 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And really, that spurred my career from there.

00:02:04 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Maybe just a thumbnail sketch of when you graduated to where you are today. What? What does your career look like?

00:02:12 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So I found myself working at Belterra doing employee engagement surveys and 360 surveys, and I quickly realized that the people doing all the things that I thought were really fun and cool were PhD level I/O, sychology list. So I started looking into IO.

00:02:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

PhD programs and I ended up in a program that kind of was executive style and allowed me to work and pursue my education at the same.

00:02:46 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Time. So from there I moved into a consulting role at another organization called Knowledge Advisors. And there we really focused on looking at.

00:03:01 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Training, evaluation and people analytics and that really turned out to be a sweet spot of mine because I really enjoyed the statistics pieces. I really enjoyed the external consulting pieces.

00:03:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And I really enjoyed really demonstrating the impact.

00:03:19 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Of these people.

00:03:20 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Programs and how we could improve the efficiency, the effectiveness of the business outcomes by pulling different levers. I was really lucky in the fact that the organization let me use their benchmark database in order to do my dissertation.

00:03:36 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So that you know spurred a lot of different things for me and.

00:03:42 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And from there I ended up going into internal roles at a few different places before deciding, you know, really my heart lies in external consulting. And so now I’m at the kaleidoscope group. A full service diversity equity and inclusion consultancy. And I work with my clients to really help them.

00:04:02 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Understand the people in their organizations. What matters most to them and how to create a culture that is equitable, fair, respectful and inclusive.

00:04:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

For all people.

00:04:16 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And it’s really great to see my work every day have a huge impact on people and I always kind of describe the work that I do is making work stuff less for people because, you know, I I.

00:04:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Sychology is is.

00:04:34 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

A big long word.

00:04:36 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And most people don’t know what it means, and my response has always been it’s my.

00:04:40 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Job to make work suck less for you.

00:04:43 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And that’s what I get to.

00:04:44 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Do every day.

00:04:45 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

I love that make.

00:04:46 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Work. Suck glass.

00:04:47 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Could you say a little bit more about, you know, your hearts in external client consulting? How did you know that what what is it that resonates?

00:04:58 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

With you about working.

00:04:59 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

With external clients versus you know the sort of other.

00:05:02 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Approaches to work.

00:05:03 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

That you’ve tried.

00:05:04 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Yeah, I think.

00:05:05 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

There’s a couple of different things. So the first is becoming really a true.

00:05:10 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Subject matter expert and what it is that I’m doing and being able to share that knowledge with others and you know that’s also part of the reason I enjoy adjunctive and and teaching at different times and different places because you have that subject matter expertise and and really I get a a great joy.

00:05:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And being able to teach and help and.

00:05:33 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And you know, share that knowledge. The difference with working internally I found is that you become really a generalist of all things, which is a.

00:05:42 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Great way to.

00:05:44 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Learn everything about everything and figure out what it is that you really enjoy doing and.

00:05:51 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Determining if, hey, do you want to?

00:05:53 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Be a generalist and be able to.

00:05:54 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Do a little bit of everything or do.

00:05:56 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

You really want to do.

00:05:57 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

A deep dive into one.

00:05:59 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Or two particular areas.

00:06:01 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And for me, I think that was the biggest difference and.

00:06:07 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

What I really like doing is is setting up my clients for success so that they can go ahead and implement the solutions and strategies and then I can check back in on them and and.

00:06:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Help them out.

00:06:18 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Where needed. It’s also a little bit faster paced and external consulting so.

00:06:24 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I can see.

00:06:26 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Tangible result of what I’m.

00:06:27 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Doing on a more frequent and and quick basis.

00:06:31 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

I brought you in to talk about a specific project that you’re working on right now as as part of Kaleidoscope. Can you sort of set up the background? Where did this project come from and and sort of what’s the problem we’re trying to solve?

00:06:43 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Sure. So when I joined the Glidescope Group A little bit more than a year and a half ago, we had already.

00:06:52 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And had an established assessment practice.

00:06:55 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And with that, the main focus.

00:06:58 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Of our research methods, we’re really in focus groups, key stakeholder interviews and survey.

00:07:05 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So as we all know, the world of work has changed so much over the past several years, and especially when it comes to DIY efforts. So.

00:07:18 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

We have a stand alone dei survey that really does a deep dive into the different factors that make it inclusive, inclusive workplace and what we wanted to do is validate it.

00:07:35 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

For the the world.

00:07:37 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Of work now.

00:07:38 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

You know, it was a perfectly valid survey before it, you know, covered A7 key factors and we had a lot of really great.

00:07:46 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Success with it, but we.

00:07:48 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Knew that there was so many different factors and different areas.

00:07:56 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

That have impacted work over the past several years, so we took a really inclusive approach to the research.

00:08:05 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And we did what we.

00:08:07 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Call applied inclusion and determining what questions to include on the survey. So.

00:08:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

That being said.

00:08:16 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

It really started with.

00:08:19 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Doing a full literature review and really going through both the academic literature, the popular press literature.

00:08:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Looking at what?

00:08:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Other consultancies and other subject matter experts in the field of DEI were saying it and what they were.

00:08:40 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Finding in their in their work so.

00:08:44 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

We looked at.

00:08:44 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

More than 28 different documents and articles in order to really.

00:08:53 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Hone in on what are the areas that that seem to matter most. Over the past three or four years. So starting with that, we also did a series of subject matter expert interviews. So we work with a number of, you know, highly tenured, really skilled.

00:09:13 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

EI consultants. So we were able to do several interviews to better understand.

00:09:18 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Hey, what’s changed?

00:09:21 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

You know, during the, you know, past couple of years and you know what are the nuances of work that are not something that we really took into consideration before.


And then the.

00:09:33 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Next piece is that we wanted to be super inclusive in how we designed this survey. So we wanted to make sure that we leveraged our differences to really design survey content that would be applicable. So we have more than 17 individuals.

00:09:53 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Help us. When it came to what questions needed to be on the survey, we.

00:10:00 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

We made sure to include all sorts of different identities, so there were more than 26 different attributes of people’s identities, whether it be gender, age, race and ethnicity, geography, culture, you know, language. So we made sure to be super inclusive with all of that and really leverage those.

00:10:21 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

To design really strong survey content. Because really when we think about it, the statistical validation of all of this.

00:10:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Can only catch.

00:10:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So much so.

00:10:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

It’s super important that we start with that relevant content before we ever get into the validation piece of the survey work.

00:10:43 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So after that we had a total of 43 different.

00:10:47 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Items that we wanted to test.

00:10:49 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And the next?

00:10:51 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Piece really is important I think, because we made sure to purchase a representative sample of the US workforce.

00:11:02 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So a lot of times when we’re testing and validating.

00:11:07 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Assessments and surveys.

00:11:09 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And such, we tend to lean more towards convenience sampling, but we wanted to make sure that this survey really made.

00:11:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Events to all parties involved and would be a good representation and matter to employees. You know, across the different demographics in the US workforce. So we purchased a sample from one of the world’s largest sample providers.

00:11:37 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And we were able to put in place hard quotas for gender identity as well as race and ethnicity to match up the US labor force.

00:11:49 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And then we put soft clothes in place for generation because it’s it’s hard to get the full breadth of the different generations and survey research. It tends to over index on younger employees. But we really did our best to ensure considerable.

00:12:09 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Participation across all of the different generations.

00:12:13 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

We also had a soft quota in place when it came to industry because we wanted to make sure that none of the industries were over sampled. So we put in place a cap of 15% across all of the different industries that were available to us. So this is where I think the the fun part.

00:12:33 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Really get started because I think a lot of times people think that statistics and research methods and data analysis can be somewhat dry, but it can actually be a really creative process and.

00:12:48 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And what I did when examining the data was really take a different approach to.

00:12:56 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Ensuring that all voices were heard and came through in the survey, questions that we ended up with.

00:13:04 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So you know, I first ran a key driver analysis using a regression to really figure out.

00:13:09 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

In terms of the pilot?

00:13:11 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Sample what the key drivers were.

00:13:14 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

At that point, I wanted to examine what the different drivers were for each of the different demographic groups so.

00:13:24 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

When I looked at those top five drivers.

00:13:29 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

They weren’t the same across all of the different demographic groups and.

00:13:36 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

It became very clear to me that in order to make sure that the things that mattered most to these different demographic groups, we had to take some of this information into account.

00:13:49 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So we put into place some certain decision criteria when deciding.

00:13:55 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

What the final?

00:13:55 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Questions to be included in the survey were.

00:13:58 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And that was.

00:14:00 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

That, but any question that was going to be included had to show up in.

00:14:05 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

As a driver for at least three out of the 11 demographic groups examined.

00:14:12 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And from there I also wanted to layer in an additional piece of information to make sure that everybody’s voices were heard and incorporated. And for those of us that have been to this live conference over the past few years, there’s been some presentations on heartbeat analysis.

00:14:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And heartbeat analysis really helps us look at the survey data, not just from a organizational level, not just from a demographic group level, but from an individual level. And this way I could include all three of those in the analysis to determine the questions to be included.

00:14:54 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So with this, we develop an average.

00:14:57 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Score across all of the survey items for each individual respondent, and then we determine you know, where do they have extreme scores. So anything within you know one standard deviation. We considered kind of close enough to the mean, but anything that.

00:15:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Exceeds that either above or below is considered an extreme score.

00:15:22 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So I use this to really look at what were those items that had the most extreme.

00:15:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So in looking at that, we’re able to see, you know, how many people kind of upvoted or downvoted the different questions because that also gives us an idea of this sentiment and how they’re feeling about.

00:15:45 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So in looking at the different items to include, we were able to.

00:15:50 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Really hone in on that as well because it tells a very different story than, let’s say, percent favorable or percent strongly agree and agree. So it just gives us a different way to look at the data and better understand people’s thoughts and feelings going into it. So based on all of that, we were able to.

00:16:10 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Call the survey down to 27 items and seven factors, and the the Nice thing is.

00:16:18 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

That the framework we landed on.

00:16:22 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

You know was aligned to our previous framework. What was different is the nuances and what’s included in each of the different factors. So when it comes to workplace inclusion, we found that commitment to DI values and practices are important.

00:16:41 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Accountability where everyone shares ownership of inclusion, equity, fair and fair treatment and access connection. So relationship between the individual and the organization’s voice, which is employee opinions, are heard and value.

00:17:01 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Differences so valuing and leveraging unique differences and then finally representation. So the perceived levels of diversity and inclusion within the organization. So it was a lot of work it.

00:17:15 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Was 6 plus months of my life.

00:17:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Really digging into this, collecting the data, coming up with the survey items.

00:17:23 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And I’m really excited to share it with everybody because we took a a truly different approach in how we did the survey.

00:17:32 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Foundation used in inclusive research practices and then applied inclusion in the data analysis.

00:17:38 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

To get to where we are today.

00:17:40 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Is there anything about either the process or the, you know, the final output that surprised you?

00:17:46 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I think the funniest, nerdiest part for me was really examining the different drivers by the different generations and by the different demographic groups in terms of race, ethnicity.

00:18:01 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And gender because it was fascinating to see how certain items really pop up to the top for different groups. And you know, the the number one predictor for most demographics was that I’m valued as an individual, not just as an employee.

00:18:23 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And The funny thing is, is that’s not one of the top, you know, 5 drivers for the overall sample, but it did pop up to the top for almost every demographic group. So that was a little bit fascinating to see. And in real time and and what was most important and sometimes it.

00:18:43 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Really validated. Kind of our different bias. And you know what’s in the media about what’s important to different groups and sometimes it didn’t. And I think that’s always the most fascinating piece of of dealing with people. And that’s what always keeps it exciting.

00:19:02 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing that, that story. I think it’s inspiring to hear about, you know, scholar practitioners who are who are doing research as part of their applied work. And it’s not a world that most of us get.

00:19:18 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

To see very often.

00:19:20 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Just for maybe some of the students out there.

00:19:22 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Could you name check some?

00:19:24 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Of the statistical processes or procedures that you.

00:19:28 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Allowed in the process and just, you know, they can make it mentally compare that to what they’re learning in stats and and see.

00:19:33 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

If they’re learning anything useful.

00:19:35 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Where? So whenever I’m going through the process of, you know, survey work and validation or assessment validation really the the first thing I do is you know run our descriptives, look at the frequencies, examine the data from that perspective and.

00:19:54 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And really get a feel.

00:19:55 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Of it, before diving into any type of advanced analytics.

00:20:00 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

At that point.

00:20:02 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

What I do is run the correlations to better understand you know what items are related to the other items, and in this case you know looking at any items that overlapped at.

00:20:17 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

A high level.

00:20:18 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And determining which of those questions should we keep, and maybe which one of them?

00:20:23 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

That we could get rid of in the survey.

00:20:26 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

The next piece was to run the key driver analysis using a regression and also do that same regression for each of the different demographic groups and we purchased a large enough sample that we were able.

00:20:42 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

To do that.

00:20:44 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And I think that.

00:20:45 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Sometimes we can’t just given that the end sizes that we’re working with.

00:20:49 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

So that was the.

00:20:51 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Next piece and then after that is really running the anovas to see where there were significant differences among the different demographic groups and how they answered the question.

00:21:03 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Or the specific factors that we were looking at. And finally the factor analysis to bucket each of the.

00:21:10 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Survey items into.

00:21:11 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

The the different factors that make up workplace inclusion, so I think you know it was a very, you know, standard process in a way, but also being able to.

00:21:24 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Breakdown the analysis you know from the large sample.

00:21:30 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

And then break it down to the demographic groups through those different statistical tests via anovas and the regressions, and then taking one step further down where we could look at it on an individual level using the heartbeat analysis was really.

00:21:49 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

A different way of doing things, but I think most practitioners or people in the academic world aren’t really taking that intentional approach to make sure that all voices are heard and.

00:22:04 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I don’t think it would have been as strong and the model would not have been as strong without incorporating each of those different steps.

00:22:13 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

Thank you very much for sharing your experience with the audience. I will share a link to your company and also to your LinkedIn profile. Is there any other place that listeners should look?

00:22:24 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

For you.

00:22:25 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

I think those are probably the the two best places. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn so you know, feel free to shoot me a message and happy to connect.

00:22:34 Ben Butina, Ph.D.

All right. Thank you very much.

00:22:35 Rachel Baghelai, Ph.D.

Thank you so much. I appreciate it.