Why surveys are one of the best DEI awareness tools 

dei survey tool

Nestled within the arsenal of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives lies a quietly potent tool: the DEI survey. While organizations often ponder whether to embark on their DEI journey with high-profile training programs, the unassuming DEI survey can be an equally, if not more, transformative force. However, it’s imperative to recognize that the DEI survey’s ultimate impact is tethered to the involvement and commitment of leadership.


Surveys are one big open conversation

DEI surveys are more than just questionnaires; they are the sounding board for voices often overlooked in the din of organizational dynamics. They provide a space for employees to openly articulate their experiences, share their perspectives, and voice their concerns. These conversations are where DEI awareness begins to take root.


Survey success only goes as far as the communication

In the world of DEI surveys, one thing is crystal clear: communication is key. It’s not enough to simply distribute surveys and expect insightful responses to pour in. 

Employees need to understand why this information is being collected, what their purpose is, and how their participation contributes to the broader goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Is it to assess the current state of diversity within the organization? Is it to identify areas for improvement in equity and inclusion? Is it to gauge employee experiences and perceptions? Maybe a combination of these or other factors. Whatever the driving force behind the survey, it must be communicated clearly to all participants.

But that’s not all. Employees should also have clarity about the logistics of the survey process. They need to know who is designing the survey, how the data will be handled, and most importantly, how is their identity being protected, and precisely how it is safeguarded throughout the survey journey.

Transparency in these matters is paramount. When employees are confident that their responses are collected anonymously and that their data is handled with utmost care and confidentiality, they are far more likely to engage openly and candidly.

The message should be repeated, often and in different formats and channels. It should ideally come from the top leadership and also involve line managers. It can be reminded during team meetings, in 1:1 meetings or through other relevant opportunities where the people in leadership interact with their team. The more consistently and clearly the message is conveyed, the higher the response rate will be.


Managing Expectations About Results

As DEI surveys gather data and insights, there’s another crucial aspect that organizations must consider: managing expectations about what will happen with the survey results. It’s not enough to collect responses; participants need to know that their feedback will be acted upon, and that their voices will contribute to change that benefits the organizational culture.

When organizations communicate what will be done with survey results, they demonstrate their commitment to turning words into actions. This step is essential because it provides a clear path forward. Employees are more likely to engage in future surveys and initiatives if they see that their feedback contributes directly to improvements within the organization.

Consider the scenario where a DEI survey reveals a lack of inclusion among different demographic groups. Explaining that these results will be used to reevaluate processes, implement training programs, or revise policies demonstrates a commitment to addressing the issues highlighted by the survey. This explanation encourages continued engagement and trust among employees.


Leadership’s Pivotal Role in DEI Survey Success

Leaders should not be passive bystanders in the DEI survey process. They are responsible for holding the microphone and setting the tone for the entire organization by demonstrating their own commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Their active involvement sends a powerful message: that DEI is not just a department’s responsibility but a shared commitment that starts at the top and that matters to all.

Leaders can use their power of influence to spark interest towards DEI surveys through effective communication. They can convey the urgency and answer why these surveys are crucial for gaining insights into the organization’s diversity landscape. By articulating the rationale behind these surveys, leaders help employees understand the vital role their input plays in effecting meaningful change.

Resistance often stems from a failure to perceive the alignment between DEI initiatives and the organization’s long-term strategy, priorities, and values. Here, leaders can play a pivotal role in bridging this gap by communicating effectively. They can elaborate on how survey data serves as a compass for strategic decision-making. By emphasizing that DEI isn’t a separate entity but a fundamental element of the organization’s identity and mission, leaders ensure that employees readily grasp the inherent harmony between surveys and the broader organizational vision.

Leaders also wield the power to boost participation rates in DEI surveys through transparent and reassuring communication. They can communicate the confidentiality and data protection measures in place, providing employees with the assurance that their responses are secure. Leaders can also prioritize psychological safety throughout the process so that people have no fear of retaliation for sharing their thoughts and experiences openly. This fosters trust and encourages more authentic and candid responses.


Sustaining DEI awareness after a survey

Your commitment to DEI shouldn’t fade once the survey concludes.

Survey results should be shared transparently, both in writing and in meetings, and discussed and dealt with by the specific teams if there’s an issue to be resolved. With the insights from the data, organizations can prioritize different actions like creating action plans, learning plans, ERGs. 

Ongoing DEI training and development programs breathe life into the dialogue, promoting continuous learning. These programs should not be one-size-fits-all. Instead, they should be finely tuned to address the specific areas of improvement identified in the survey. To maximize impact, consider the power of specificity. While company-wide keynotes have their place and purpose, ideally, different teams and business units should receive training tailored to their unique roles and responsibilities. This ensures that DEI learning is not an abstract concept but a practical, applicable, and relevant tool in the hands of those who need it most.

Leadership’s role extends beyond the survey itself; it involves setting clear and attainable DEI goals based on survey results. These goals become a navigational chart, guiding meaningful change that can be tracked and communicated to employees. When employees witness their feedback translating into tangible actions and improvements, it reinforces their belief in the value of DEI initiatives.


Ready for your next survey

It’s easy to get lost in the details—questions, data, and analysis. But take a step back and consider this: the real magic doesn’t just happen in the questions you ask or the numbers you collect. It happens in the way you communicate, the commitment your leadership demonstrates, and most importantly by the structural adjustments done and decisions made after you’ve collected the relevant information from your team.

So, when the next DEI survey is on the horizon, remember this: Don’t fixate solely on the mechanics of the survey. Place equal importance on how you communicate the survey’s purpose, process, and what will happen next. Engage your leadership team, making sure they are not just supportive but actively involved and accountable for all that follows.

Ready to maximize the impact of your DEI survey? Let Inklusiiv be your partner in creating a workplace where every voice matters. Reach out to consulting@inklusiiv.com to start the conversation. Find out more about Inklusiiv’s DEI services here

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