Best Practices for Analyzing DEIB Survey Data
In the previous blog in this series, we discussed how an organization should craft their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) survey strategy. Now, we’ll explore how we analyze our DEIB data.
Many assume that analyzing data begins once you have already collected your survey responses. However, this is not entirely true. When designing your survey, it's important to look ahead as to how you might want to deep dive into certain items by using a particular demographic cut. For example, you might wish to look at differences between genders on an item. For most organizations, demographic information such as gender, age, and job level will be captured by your Human Resources Information System (HRIS). However, these systems do not always capture the granular detail needed to explore demographics within DEIB surveys. Moreover, once you have your data, knowing the best methods of analysis is crucial as it can enable you to derive greater insights from your data.
What Demographics Should Be Included?
Including demographics within your survey is critical for understanding how certain groups’ experiences might be similar or different. While there are pros and cons for both methods, organizations can take multiple approaches when including demographics in their survey: leverage attributed HRIS data or include optional self-report demographics. When identifying the method your organization should follow, consider the pros and cons discussed below.
Including attributed data in your survey allows organizations to link responses to several demographics. However, organizations are often limited to the data that their HRIS collects, which tends to be simplistic and possibly exclusionary. For example, many organizations only give “female” or “male” options when asking about gender identity. However, individuals who identify as “non-binary” may not have an option to select.
To mitigate the drawbacks of attributed data, organizations can include additional demographic questions in the survey that allow for more robust data collection. With this method, organizations run the risk of longer surveys and must ensure that appropriate communication is in place to help employees feel safe to respond.
In addition, depending on the size of the organization, data analysis might be limited by smaller sample sizes, as more options are included for analysis. Employees should also have the ability to opt-out of answering the demographic question – which poses the risk of missing data.
Asking the Right Questions
When planning which inclusion demographic questions to include within your survey, consider where and how the questions will be asked. Based on prior experience, we recommend working with both your legal department and (when applicable) your global privacy and works council contacts (if you have employees in Europe) to ensure the responses to any questions asked do not cause risk to employee’s anonymity. It's important to communicate to participants your commitment to being open, honest, and transparent about how data will be used. A few determinations you should plan to make with the help of your privacy and works council teams include:
- What personal information will you collect, and why?
- Who will have access to participant data?
- How will data be secured?
- How will personal data be stored and processed?
- What contact information will be provided to participants for reaching out with questions or concerns?
When demographic questions are included in a survey, it's critical to ensure that participant responses will be protected and used only to understand the experiences of various groups within your organization. For example, in certain geographical locations, some demographic questions regarding gender identity or sexual orientation are illegal to ask. Consult with your legal department and HR team to ensure participants understand that data will be aggregated and reported only at the group level. Help employees understand that the advantage of providing the demographic information is that the organization will gain insights into the experiences and perceptions of groups whose experiences might not otherwise be understood.
As a best practice, include definitions in your survey that outline the meaning of each demographic and terms that may need additional clarity. When selecting the demographics you’ll include in your survey, also consider your organization’s DEIB maturity and your intent to action plan on the results. As your DEIB maturity grows, it’s likely that you will be able to incorporate more demographic questions (as long as such questions aren’t barred by law) to delve further into specific groups’ experiences in the workplace. If you are at the beginning of your DEIB journey and include many demographic questions, you may find that you have very low response rates. This could be due to a lack of understanding or trust within the organization.
Cutting Across Demographics
When examining demographic items, it is a best practice to not look at one demographic in isolation. For example, gender is often the first demographic organizations want to analyze; however, if organizations ask only about binary gender terms, such as female or male, there are often few differences. Therefore, you could look at females or males cut by another demographic such as job level, which can give you more insight into granular differences.
When first introducing DEIB demographics or DEIB-specific survey questions, individuals’ willingness to self-identify might be low. It could take several surveys for responses to these questions to increase and for employees to trust that they won’t be individually identified. Keep in mind that low uptake to these “opt-in” questions could be indicative that certain groups do not feel comfortable sharing this information. Over time, it is a good idea to monitor the proportions of people who feel comfortable self-coding themselves on these types of questions as overall confidence and trust in the organization increases.
Tips and Best Practices
- Establish your aims and objectives before collecting any demographic data. You should have a clear idea of why you are monitoring this data and what you want to find out.
- When collecting the data, make sure your demographic questions are appropriate and legal to use as well as clear and easy to understand.
- Communicate the purpose of monitoring demographic data to all employees. Being open about why this information is collected builds trust with employees. Moreover, staff who interpret this data should have training to best understand how to interpret demographic data but also to avoid biases.
- Maintain confidentiality. We know many demographic questions can be personal and, in some cases, can lead to serious consequences for employees if not kept confidential.
- Gain the support of senior management. Leaders can then emphasize to employees that collecting this information is part of an important organizational strategy.
- Consult groups within the organization. If you have established employee resource groups (ERGs) and legal teams in place, consult their advice.
Perceptyx Shows You What’s Next for DEIB
Accurately analyzing your organization’s DEIB data can mean the difference between world-class EX and business outcomes and the status quo. Perceptyx’s DEIB listening solutions can deliver the timely insights that help you create a more inclusive and equitable workplace while distinguishing your organization in a competitive market for talent. To learn more, schedule a meeting with a member of our team.
Want to know how best to interpret your DEIB survey data? Watch this space for the next blog in our DEIB series, Interpreting and Sharing your DEIB Results.