Insights from a diversity and inclusion survey can act as an effective launching pad for determining priorities for your DEI work. But without careful planning, you might not be able to make the most of the survey insights. Running a D&I survey in-house, with often scarce resources for DEI work, is not always the best idea. Below, we have listed questions you should ask before committing to a D&I survey project to make sure that it adds value and is not “just another employee survey” that does not lead to concrete actions.
Are we able to gather relevant and honest data?
Confidentiality, privacy, and transparency about data usage are key priorities in a diversity and inclusion survey. These surveys include personal and sensitive questions related to e.g. respondents’ sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities, and experiences of inappropriate behaviour. This is not something you should take lightly; D&I surveys need to be planned carefully.
When employees are asked sensitive questions, it is normal that they may be skeptical and concerned about whether the responses are truly anonymous and who will have access to the data. If the respondents don’t feel safe answering the survey, the results can be misleading and lead to wrong conclusions.
You also need to take legal requirements and restrictions into consideration when gathering demographic data. Some diversity categories are highly sensitive and can only be asked in larger organizations with a big enough sample size. It might also be risky or unsafe to ask these in certain markets and locations.
To guarantee a safe and truly anonymous survey experience, and the collection of honest and relevant data, you might want to consider using a neutral third-party survey provider. However, make sure that your survey partner also understands the specific legal requirements related to D&I surveys.
Are we asking the right questions in the D&I survey?
There are many aspects to diversity and inclusion. It is important to carefully select the right questions and determine which metrics to follow. Start by asking yourself: Do you already gather data related to diversity and inclusion in your existing employee surveys? What does the existing data tell you? What areas of inclusion are especially important to know more about? Do you have specific goals and measures in place that need to be taken into account when planning the survey?
By using a third-party survey provider, you can mitigate some biases in the planning process and have a more objective approach to the survey content. When choosing a survey provider, make sure that they have core expertise on DEI topics.This guarantees you’ll ask the right questions and get relevant insights that will add value to your DEI work.
Are we getting enough insights to see the full picture?
Quantitative data from the D&I survey gives you an overall picture of how different groups are represented in the company or how employees experience the work environment and access to opportunities. However, it does not provide you with an explanation, for example, why people have adverse experiences in some areas of inclusion or why they don’t feel safe to report their experiences of inappropriate behaviour.
It is highly recommended to include qualitative data when conducting a D&I survey project. However, there are limitations in gathering qualitative insights. Preserving anonymity may require extra effort, knowledge, and time from the survey team.
A survey provider can help you to save resources, and garner valuable insights, but also give you a sense of security when it comes to confidentiality and privacy. You want to make employees feel safe to share their views and ensure that their sensitive information does not end up in the wrong hands in the organization. Using a neutral party to analyse the qualitative data, or conduct the interviews is often the best way to ensure this.
What is the way forward after the D&I survey?
The most important step of any D&I survey is not gathering the data but taking action based on its findings. Communicating the way forward is important because your employees want to know if their responses are used to make real improvements.
From our State of D&I in Finland survey in 2020, we learned that 86 % of the companies do employee engagement surveys, 64 % measure diversity demographics, and 50 % measure inclusion, but less than half of the companies have D&I specific goals & measures (36 %) or a D&I Strategy or Action plan (47 %) in place. Without resources, knowledge, or support from DEI professionals, companies can struggle with making the most of their data and using it to make actionable changes.
Inklusiiv’s approach to D&I surveys
Our goal at Inklusiiv is to use survey insights to find pragmatic solutions to advance DEI. Our D&I survey always includes analysis with group-based observations and recommendations from our DEI specialists that support our clients to set priorities and define the next steps.
After the survey, we also recommend monitoring employee experiences of inclusion on a team level through, for example, short and regular pulse surveys. It has been said that too many surveys lead to “survey fatigue” but as this Culture Amp article points out, instead of survey fatigue, it might actually be “lack-of-action fatigue”. If employees are convinced that their feedback leads to concrete actions, they are happy to take the time to share their views.
At Inklusiiv, we offer a comprehensive survey package to measure the state of both diversity and inclusion in your company. We act as a neutral entity with the highest priority on privacy. Thus we enable the collection of honest and relevant information. Our survey package always includes recommendations that support you to set priorities and next steps.
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