Promoting diversity and inclusion in your organisation

Dr Louise Parkes has previously shared our research findings regarding the current state of diversity and key drivers for improving workplace diversity in a breakfast event. Since then, interest in measuring and promoting diversity and inclusion has continued to grow with many clients using their engagement survey to assess and demonstrate effectiveness of diversity initiatives. Apart from gender equity, organisations are also now focusing on other diversity dimensions such as cultural background, sexuality, disability, age and so on.

Given the increasing importance of diversity and inclusion, we have been working closely with our clients to incorporate tailored questions and demographics in their engagement surveys. So, how can you make the best use of your engagement survey for monitoring and improving diversity and inclusion?

4 ways to assess and improve diversity and inclusion using your engagement survey

1. Measuring overall perceptions of diversity culture: Getting a perspective by measuring perceptions about broad diversity practices. For example,

  • “My organisation is committed to creating a diverse workforce”
  • “There is equal opportunity for all staff in this organisation”
  • “Discrimination is prevented and discouraged”

2. Measuring perceptions about specific diversity and inclusion elements and initiatives: Including questions to measure specific diversity efforts. For example:

  • “Cultural background is not a barrier to success in my organisation”
  • “Women and men are given the same opportunities to take the lead on important work in my organisation”
  • “I have enough Indigenous cultural knowledge and awareness to undertake my work”

3. Examining workforce demographics: Examining patterns in response numbers should help you spot issues such as low identification/representation and glass ceiling effect. If you don’t have good existing workforce data you can use the survey to collect demographic information.

  • Look at the response numbers of minority group(s) versus the rest of the organisation. Compare this year’s ratio to the ratio from your last survey to see how that has shifted and/or to the industry average if the data is available.
  • Explore the response numbers of minority group(s) across other demographics such as gender, job level and roles.

gender x job level example results

We acknowledge that these response numbers may not always accurately reflect the demographic of your workforce, for example, minority groups may be slightly underrepresented due to various reasons such as difficulty accessing the survey and fear of identification. These numbers therefore need to be interpreted with slight caution and alongside other data sources.

4. Comparing employee experience: One of the most effective ways to use your survey to measure the impact of diversity initiatives is to compare the reported experience of minority group(s) with that of the rest of the organisation and identify key differences.

  • Look at their engagement score, and satisfaction levels with selected practices (e.g. recruitment & selection, career opportunities, resources, etc).
  • If the experience of a minority group is noticeably more negative than that of the organisation, explore why and what can be done. Are there any suggestions in the text comments? If the experience of a minority group appears to be more positive than the rest of the organisation, is that driven by a difference in expectations? Does this group become less satisfied as they progress up in the organisation suggesting potential barriers?

gender weather map example results

For example, we have explored engagement survey data from our university clients and found that employees with a disability reported lower satisfaction (-8% in satisfaction on average), particularly with diversity, wellness and work/life balance. However, the pattern varied across universities. From our experience, the satisfaction difference between demographic groups could be impacted by organisational context such as gender dominance in key roles, support for women workforce, and progress in reconciliation plan.

What are your observations and experience using engagement surveys for diversity and inclusion purpose? Feel free to share your insights with us in the comment box below.