When it comes to being effective at maximizing profits, many companies will establish goals, gather data and evaluate change over time. Sociologists Elizabeth Hirsh and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey suggest that companies should tackle diversity initiatives in the exact same manner.
Data collection is crucial for gaining insight into your workforce and identifying gaps that could reveal a lack of representation and transparency, unintended biases, flawed HR practices, exclusion and unfairness. This will allow key stakeholders to make informed decisions. When you have data with a high degree of precision, storytelling becomes easier and more accurate, which will support your rationale for developing DEI solutions.
When creating an online DEI survey, consider varied questions and format types. Here are a few suggestions to ensure you have a high-quality survey so you can perform quality analysis on quality data.
1. MAKE IT AN ANONYMOUS SURVEY. Anonymity can elicit more honest feedback.
5. SELECT ALL THAT APPLY. Pose questions where respondents can multi-select answers that apply to them.
Pulling quality data from your DEI survey won’t only articulate the reported dynamics that are currently at play in your organization, but will help get you to the stage of developing your DEI solutions.
In 2020, the City of Mississauga conducted its first Diversity and Inclusion survey that generated a response rate of 47%. Data was collected to identify the gaps that may exist in representation of equity-seeking groups. One of their key takeaways was that employees who identified as racialized are significantly under-represented across the workforce compared to the population at large. In May of 2021, the City of Mississauga responded to their survey data and took actions. They:
- Performed a needs assessment to design a comprehensive learning plan for both leaders and employees on Diversity and Inclusion
- Established partnerships with outreach organizations to utilize their expertise
- Created an Employee Equity Advisory Committee to serve in an advisory capacity to the City Manager’s Office and Human Resources
- Held monthly Equity Alerts to raise awareness on DEI topics
After you’ve closed your DEI survey, look for key takeaways in your data. A lot of times, key takeaways aren’t obvious by looking at the data from an overview. So play around with it by turning on filters, creating several filtered reports, and tagging answers on open-ended questions to create categories or themes. Based on your findings, when you have deemed your data to have a full story, begin to articulate the narrative, creating in-depth storytelling.
From here, involve stakeholders to brainstorm on identifying critical priorities. Draft a business plan that includes business objectives and the full scope of your proposed DEI solutions. Lastly, create a project plan that identifies who will be involved in contributing to the development and roll-out of your DEI solutions, and the path you’ll take to meet your business objectives.
Statistician William Edwards Deming once said, “Without data you’re just another person with an opinion.” By utilizing DEI survey data it won’t be an opinion guiding you as you develop your DEI solutions, but the truth.