Organizations that promote diversity and inclusion outperform companies that don't. Yet, it can be challenging to understand where you stand in your efforts and how to change. A diversity and inclusion survey highlights the opinions of your employees to see if your D&I strategy is performing as well as you think it is. Ingrained emotional habits are often a result of a child mimicking the behavior of the adults in their life. As a result, it can be possible to have blind spots about the ways your emotional habits may include unconscious biases that harm those around you. With the data you collect, you can learn ways to change your emotional habits and those of other employees, create new initiatives to improve inclusivity and see how the opinions of employees in various groups differ.
To conduct a D&I survey, you'll likely want an easy-to-use format that provides as much information as possible. This guide can help you learn more about diversity and inclusion and offers sample diversity and inclusion questions to ask employees.
What are Diversity and Inclusion?
It's important not to lump diversity and inclusion into a single concept. They are two distinct practices that can improve your workplace culture and performance. However, By understanding and implementing both, companies can yield more benefits.
Diversity is the presence of individuals of different identities, including race, gender, age, capability level, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic status. You can benefit from bringing various viewpoints into your organization by promoting diversity in hiring and retention practices.
Inclusion is the act of making diverse people feel welcome in the environment. By creating an inclusive environment, you can make sure every employee feels comfortable contributing to the organization's success. Inclusion added to diversity allows employees to bring their authentic selves to work and creates a sense of belonging that makes all employees feel comfortable voicing innovative ideas. It should also be implemented throughout company policies and benefits. For instance, culturally centered care provides high-quality mental health care in a way that fosters a sense of belonging and acknowledges diversity and intersecting identities. You can help build a workplace that makes all employees feel welcome by offering benefits that embrace different cultures.
Why Do You Need a Diversity and Inclusion Survey?
Diversity and inclusion are sensitive topics that many employees feel strongly about. Yet, employees may not feel comfortable approaching the subject without the right policies in place. Furthermore, company leaders, managers, and c-suite executives might have different views of the organization's inclusivity level than employees. A diversity and inclusion survey gives an accurate and anonymous picture of how inclusive and fair your employees think your company is. It also provides these benefits.
- A survey provides a safe place for employees to share feedback. Anonymous surveys allow employees to offer opinions and share their experiences without fear of repercussions. By providing a private environment to share, employees are more likely to get involved. A 2020 Glassdoor survey revealed that 71% of employees would be more likely to share experiences and opinions on diversity & inclusion at their company if they could do so anonymously.
- Employees will appreciate an inclusive environment that makes them a part of the decision-making process. Including employees in your D&I efforts supports the more inclusive environment you strive for. It also shows that you know your employees can provide valuable information to further organizational success.
- Utilizing the survey to create an inclusive environment will lead to a forward-thinking organization. Measuring your employees' opinions of your D&I efforts will provide essential data that you can use to take actionable steps toward company-wide improvement. Employee feedback, both good and bad, can lead to an organization that promotes positive change.
Best Diversity and Inclusion Questions to Ask your Employees
Employee surveys typically get the most involvement when they are easy to complete and allow meaningful input. You can meet both criteria by allowing your employees to rate statements on a 1 to 5 scale and providing a section for comments. The following statements are designed to be rated on a scale of 1 to 5. You can include additional open text questions or a comment box for more information.
- Sharing my background and experience with this organization is something I am comfortable doing. While this might seem like a surprising question, many employees might feel like their background makes them stand out. Employees may not want to share information about their racial ethnicity, education, mental or physical health history, sexual orientation, or other details that they are concerned could be criticized or result in a negative career impact. By collecting demographic data, you can also accurately determine if certain groups of employees feel this more strongly than others.
- Diversity issues are handled appropriately by my manager, who demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are company-wide policies. It's critical for the behavior of board members, c-suite executives, and other company leaders to reflect the views of an inclusive organization. A follow-up question could allow employees to describe an incident that wasn't handled properly and how that situation should’ve been handled.
- This organization does not impede my career advancement because of my personal characteristics. This question will quickly reveal whether employees from all demographics feel they've been promoted fairly due to their efforts. In a McKinsey report, which surveyed more than 12,000 individuals in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, India, and Singapore about why they left their job, 41% said that the lack of opportunity for upward mobility was the number-one reason so ensuring equity is one way to maintain a diverse workforce.
- Our organization values my unique contribution. Inclusion is the missing piece of the diversity puzzle. It's not enough to have a diverse workforce. Employees who don't feel a sense of belonging are less likely to contribute to the organization's success with innovative ideas and opinions. If your employees provide low scores for this question, it's essential to rethink your inclusion strategy.
- Our organization gives me the confidence to take risks. Taking risks often leads to improved innovation and increased success. When employees at every level are encouraged to take risks, companies develop innovative ideas that promote growth. However, in an organization that fails to create a sense of belonging at every level, employees will be afraid to take risks, such as voicing new ideas or speaking out against unfair treatment.
- There are adequate procedures for reporting discrimination. Remember when we mentioned that nearly two-thirds of employees would be more likely to share experiences and opinions about diversity and inclusion if they could do so anonymously? This question will help you learn what makes your employees feel more comfortable. Include a follow-up question that asks for more information about what procedures employees feel would be most adequate or effective.
- It is my belief that our organization will take adequate action in response to discrimination. Although workplace discrimination is illegal, statistics from recent reports reveal that it still occurs.
- 55% of employees have experienced discrimination at their current company.
- 61% have witnessed discrimination happen to others.
- 45.5% of LGBTQ employees have experienced unfair treatment at work.
- 24% of Black and Hispanic employees have experienced discrimination at work.
- 80% experienced discrimination while working remotely.
- Only 54% who reported had their issue fully resolved.
Employees are likely to see this situation differently than upper management. Answers to this question and innovative ideas for change could shed light on how your company can improve anti-discrimination policies.
- Our organization treats people from all backgrounds fairly. This is another question where demographic data will come in handy. Unconscious biases often mean company leaders are unaware of how they treat certain groups unfairly. Follow-up questions could ask for specific incidents where employees are treated poorly or metrics and processes that can be used to promote fair treatment without the possibility of bias.
- Our organization places a high priority on diversity and inclusion. While many organizations promote their D&I efforts, taking action might not be a big priority. Although many organizational leaders can describe what inclusion means, they are unsure of what it looks like in the workplace. By measuring employee sentiments about different aspects of inclusion, you can better understand where your organization falls short.
- Creating an inclusive workplace is a high priority for employees at this organization. This question can help delve into the work experiences that might be overlooked by upper management. Creating an inclusive workplace means that all policies and behavior make employees from all demographics feel comfortable and supported. For instance, do medical and mental health benefits reflect the needs of global teams? Do paid holidays reflect a culturally diverse workplace? Do managers make an effort to seek ideas and opinions from all employees?
Diversity and Inclusion Survey: What to Avoid?
When conducting a survey, what to avoid is as important as what you should include. Sidestepping certain pitfalls can help you avoid unclear results or a poor representation of reality. When conducting your survey, it's essential to avoid these issues.
Incorrect Demographic Data
Analyzing your survey in the context of demographic when possible can help add important context. Personal experience is a crucial part of defining a sense of belonging, and those experiences often differ for employees in different demographic groups. For instance, significantly more Black (71%) and Hispanic (72%) employees say their employer should be doing more to increase the diversity of its workforce than white (58%) employees.
Communication when informing your employees about your intent with the survey and transparent language within the survey is critically important for accurate results. Clarify your purpose by providing information about how the survey results will be used. Be prepared to utilize employee feedback in a way that will be observed within the organization.
Wrong Interpretation of the Results
Everyone experiences unconscious biases. As a leader, you may be tempted to explain away feedback. However, approach your survey results with an open mind and a willingness to promote change.
A diversity and inclusion survey is an effective way to gauge your organization's policies that give employees a sense of belonging. By asking questions that combine employees' personal experiences with opinions about your organizational policies, you can clearly see your D&I efforts and how you can improve. To learn more about mental health stigma in the workplace, how it can affect belonging, and evidence-based strategies to address mental health stigma in your workplace, download the groundbreaking new playbook, Modern Belonging Pt. II.