“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. “What gets measured, gets done”. Measuring is a key factor in reaching any business goal and DEI is no exception. Setting goals for your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work is essential if you want to make real progress. Before setting goals to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, it is crucial to assess the current state of DEI. Measuring diversity and inclusion can help recognize what is currently done well and what areas may be lacking. Getting a better picture of the current state of play helps set priorities for action and take DEI work to the next level.
Diversity and inclusion surveys are a useful tool for gathering data and insights to guide DEI work. However, only a well-designed survey and process will produce high-quality insights, including answers to questions such as: Who is working in this organisation and who is not? What are the actions to prioritise with the current resources for DEI work? Which initiatives would have the most impact? What kind of goals are realistic and seen as valuable by employees? What are our employees’ experiences like when it comes to inclusion? Are these experiences similar or different between different groups of people? What are our strengths and areas of development when it comes to DEI?
5 reasons to measure diversity, equity, and inclusion with a survey
1. Set informed Priorities for Effective Action
Measuring diversity and inclusion is one essential building block in the foundation of sustainable, strategic DEI work. Making assumptions about your organisation’s culture, employees’ experiences of inclusion or the current state of diversity can be misleading. Not knowing where you stand with DEI makes decision-making difficult and can lead to wasting resources, often very limited ones. A purposefully designed D&I survey will provide necessary insights to prioritise actions to address issues, capitalise on opportunities and to make sustainable change.
2. Strengthen a shared understanding and commitment to DEI
Carrying out a whole-of- organisation survey strengthens a shared understanding of and commitment to DEI. A diversity and inclusion survey is not only a simple questionnaire, but rather it is a broader process, involving the whole organisation to communicate, participate, discuss and take action on the findings. Carrying out a D&I survey involves communicating the reasons why such an initiative is being undertaken, what DEI means for the organisation, and why it is important that respondents take the time to answer the survey. A well designed survey process also involves debriefing the results within relevant functions, teams and the whole organisation, and discussing their implications. Asking people to share their experiences and views, while committing to taking action based on the feedback, is in-and-of-itself a way to foster a more inclusive work environment.
3. Understand how different groups are represented
Do you know how diverse your team is? Are different age groups, genders, and backgrounds represented? Are there people with different educational backgrounds, experiences, or life situations? D&I Surveys that include questions on diversity demographics and other background information reveal who is represented in your organisation and who is not, and what kinds of experiences employees from different backgrounds may have.
4. Identify areas of strength and improvement on inclusion
D&I surveys are a concrete way to get insights on employee experiences of belonging and inclusion. Inclusion is a subjective experience with several dimensions, including psychological safety, equitable practices and opportunities, high-quality leadership and team culture, among others. When inclusion data is analysed beyond averages and aggregate levels, it can also help identify weaknesses and reveal possible barriers to inclusion. Average employee engagement scores may hide important differences between employee groups – for example, respondents belonging to minority groups on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation or disability status, may encounter inappropriate behaviour more often, and view leadership commitment to DEI more critically. Without data, it’s also hard to know what to prioritise. DEI work is not only about fixing issues, but adding onto what works and what is already being done well. Inclusion data from a D&I Survey helps you identify both kinds of insights.
5. Gather data to monitor progress
One benefit of carrying out a D&I survey is that you’ll get concrete data points to monitor progress. Repeat some questions as part of an employee engagement survey annually, or conduct a comprehensive D&I survey every 2-3 years, and you’ll see if your DEI initiatives are having the desired impact. In designing a D&I survey, it is good practice to incorporate goals and key metrics from your DEI strategy in the survey to ensure that it is aligned with your strategic goals.
The most important question – how to do it?
At Inklusiiv, we have created a step-by-step process of measuring diversity and inclusion with employee surveys, customised to the specific needs, situation and context of each client. Our D&I surveys include questions on both diversity and inclusion metrics, providing nuanced quantitative and qualitative insights into the state of diversity and inclusion in your organisation. In addition, they include questions on non-discrimination and space to provide ideas and suggestions on what could be done to advance DEI work going forward.
Diversity metrics focus on measuring how balanced and representative the team is and assessing whether different demographics are represented. Diversity metrics include demographic data related to, for example, age, gender identity, disabilities, sexual orientation, native language, family status, or educational background. However, it’s important to remember that gathering any demographic data requires careful planning as you need to take legal requirements and restrictions into consideration.
Inclusion metrics focus on assessing how employees experience the work environment and equity of practices and opportunities. Inclusion metrics measure employees’ experiences related to, for example, psychological safety, inclusive leadership, fair and equal opportunities, harassment and discrimination, recruitment, and organisational commitment to DEI. When measuring inclusion, it is important to consider organisational values, culture and context when determining which inclusion metrics to include in the survey, as there are many different aspects of inclusion.
Lastly, quantitative data is rarely enough to get the full picture of DEI at your organisation and understand the nuances. Consider using a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions, and follow up with opportunities for employees to provide further feedback around specific issues or pain points. This can be done for example with additional surveys, targeted around specific themes that arose in the D&I Survey, through team discussions, focus groups and interviews. Make sure to communicate who people can be in touch with if they have questions, concerns or wish to discuss DEI related matters more in detail.
Remember these when planning a D&I Survey:
- Communicate openly and honestly. A D&I Survey often includes personal questions that might evoke emotions and make employees question why such things are even asked about. That’s why it is important to communicate openly and honestly about the purpose of the survey and how the data will be utilised, well in advance of launching the survey.
- Make it anonymous and safe. It is of the utmost importance, and a legal requirement, to make the D&I survey safe for employees. Collect all data anonymously and make sure that individuals cannot be identified from the data. Consider using a neutral third party as a survey provider. This guarantees a safe and truly anonymous survey experience and the collection of honest and relevant data.
- Share the results and the way forward. After the survey, it is important to communicate the results and actions taken to employees. Taking the time to debrief the results and discuss them at town halls, team meetings and other relevant forums is a great way to strengthen a shared understanding of DEI at the organisation. Make sure that senior leadership are aware of the survey and its results, and present when communicating about the findings to the organisation.
- Take legal requirements into account. When measuring D&I, you need to consider possible legal requirements and restrictions that apply in your organisation’s context.
At Inklusiiv, we offer a comprehensive D&I survey service to measure the state of diversity and inclusion in your company and provide recommendations that support prioritisation and action planning. We act as a neutral entity who places privacy and a safe and comfortable experience for survey respondents as our highest priority. A carefully designed, step-by-step process and customised surveys enable the collection of honest and relevant information. We can also help you review your existing plans to measure D&I in your organisation and/or provide consultation on incorporating DEI elements into your existing employee surveys. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.