Interpreting and Sharing Your DEIB Survey Results
Previously on our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) journey, we looked at what comprises DEIB, explained how Perceptyx has studied DEIB in the workplace, and outlined the best practices for analyzing DEIB survey data. Next, we want to discuss how people leaders and human resource business partners (HRBPs) should approach interpreting the survey data collected, as well as sharing those insights with their employees.
DEIB Survey Data Interpretation
After you administer your DEIB survey and tabulate the results, you are ready to begin interpreting all that data. Take ample time to understand the insights that have been brought to light. Too often, organizations make the mistake of celebrating highly favorable DEIB items, or the index as a whole, without first considering the population of employees who responded. If survey respondents answer favorably to an inclusion item, it helps to know whether the majority of survey participants answering are black females. Your organization’s response to that item ought to be different than if most of the respondents are white males.
Cutting and compiling data based on various groups of employees is only half of the story. When interpreting data, peer through various demographic lenses in order to understand what each group might be experiencing. It’s also necessary to rely on more than one data source in order to tell the complete story. What other factors must be known to best understand these perceptions? Let’s walk through an example.
For the item “This company has created an environment where people with diverse backgrounds can succeed,” you find that favorability has decreased for women of color with 1-2 years of tenure. How do you delve deeper into this data so it can best inform continuous improvement and change management?
Start your investigation by answering these questions:
- How does the score measure up to what is “normal”? Look at the item’s relative standing – meaning the % favorable in comparison to benchmarks (internal and external) to provide a gauge of how you are actually performing on an item.
- Considering the tenure, did you hire a large number of women of color, perhaps as part of a DEIB recruiting initiative a year or two ago? What did their onboarding experience look like?
- Has there been a significant number of women of color leaving the company recently? Does their exit data provide any insights?
- How does participation compare across demographics on this item?
- Is there a formal career planning program? If yes, how is this communicated? Is it one size fits all? Is it a process that is free of bias? Has that absence of bias been communicated to employees?
- Does the data inform you of other areas of concern that could contribute to this perception? Manager relationships? Employee resource group (ERG) participation? Communications?
- Are these mid-career hires or direct hires straight from college? Could this be impacting the experience?
- Are other demographic groups witnessing the same decline? Women as a whole? Women with 1-2 years tenure?
- Does the qualitative data collected contain any tangible feedback that could be used as part of the solution? Be sure not to only look at those who responded neutral or unfavorably to this item, as those responding favorably could give you insight regarding those areas where you should maximize your efforts.
When discussing the work of DEIB, it is critically important to set aside your own assumptions and interpretations. Instead, use the data to prompt individual and team discussions around the data – and then use the insights from those discussions to inform interventions that will lead to the most impactful changes in the employee experience.
For example, ask these questions of women of color with 1-2 years tenure:
- What does it mean for you to succeed? How might this differ from others in the organization?
- What barriers do you find to be in the way of success for people with diverse backgrounds? How could we work together to get those removed?
- Does your employee experience match the expectations you had when you were hired? Why or why not?
- Do you find there is representation for women of color in the roles you aspire to occupy one day? How does that impact your perception of opportunities here?
- Are you aware of the company’s career/development planning process?
Sharing DEIB Survey Results
Sharing results with others in the organization is a critical step in the listening process to ensure transparency and encourage additional dialogue. As you develop a plan for sharing results, consider the following:
- Who is your audience? Knowing your audience can help you tailor your message. For example, sharing results to the whole organization might require more high-level and generalizable analysis.
- What results can and should be shared? DEIB results can be very sensitive data to share. Talk to your legal team to understand the implications of the shared data.
- Transparency, at least to the extent that is reasonably prudent and legally permissible, is key.
- Partner with internal experts and ERGs. Leverage internal expertise and employee resource groups to better understand employee perceptions and potential next steps.
- Sharing results is an opportunity for two-way dialogue. Leverage the survey results as a catalyst for additional open and honest communication.
Sharing DEIB Survey Results with Business Leaders
Keep the following points in mind as you work through survey results with business leaders:
- Always start with the business context in mind and speak the language of the leader.
- Provide major observations before using any filters, comparisons, or drill down.
- Know that leaders can react differently – some are resistant whereas others are open to the process.
- Don’t let endless investigation stall action.
- Encourage your leaders to schedule a wider team debrief – and then think about ways to support these leaders as they prepare.
Potential questions to ask:
- What were your initial reactions to the data?
- What surprises you and why?
- What does not surprise you and why?
- Can you share a specific example of when this has occurred?
- Can you share the initiatives that are taking place that led to this positive result?
- What kinds of things are happening that led to a lower score in this area?
- Tell me about your team dynamics. What are three things regarding current team dynamics that concern you? How do you think your team will react to the results?
- What priorities are you already working on that might help address this?
- What ideas do you have already to help improve in these areas?
Keeping Things in Perspective
When communicating your survey results, it's important to create a safe and trusting environment for sharing all thoughts and perspectives. But what should be considered in order to create this trusting environment?
- All team members should be encouraged to participate.
- Establish that the discussion is confidential and ensure that the difference between anonymous (names redacted) and confidential (information won’t be shared) is clear.
- Make it clear that you accept the results and intend to use them to improve.
- Move the discussion from problem-focused to solution-focused.
Encouraging Employee Participation
Listen to the team’s input regarding the survey results. Encourage them to ask questions and then engage them in collaborative action planning.
- First, ask questions that will improve your understanding of the current situation. What is the problem? What was the missed opportunity?
- After you understand the problem, ask questions that focus on solutions. What would you like the situation to be? What are some positive outcomes that can result from this solution? What resources are needed? Are there short-term and long term-steps we can take to reach our goal?
Focus on the Process
Process is about leading the group from exploring problems highlighted in the data all the way through to identifying solutions and taking action.
- Share logistics about the debrief of results to ensure that all participants fully understand the goal of the meeting.
- Review your results, and share stories about strengths and opportunities.
- Determine action items based on the input of participants.
Questions for focusing attention:
- What’s important to you about the results and why do you care?
- What opportunities can you see in (a particular finding)?
- What do we know so far/still need to learn about (a particular finding)?
- What assumptions do we need to test or challenge here in thinking about (a particular finding)?
Questions for getting deeper insight and clarity:
- What’s taking shape? What are you hearing underneath the variety of opinions being expressed?
- What’s missing from this picture so far? What is it we’re not seeing? What do we need more clarity about?
Questions that create movement towards action:
- What would it take to create change on this issue?
- What’s possible here and who cares? (rather than “What’s wrong here and who is responsible?”)
- What needs immediate attention?
- If our success was completely guaranteed, what bold next steps might we choose?
- How can we support each other in taking these bold next steps? What unique contribution can each of us make?
- What challenges might come our way, and how might we meet them?
Perceptyx Can Help You Tell Your Organization’s DEIB Story
When analyzing DEIB survey results, it’s always easier if you have a good understanding of your business context – such as recent market changes, wins and opportunities, and key initiatives – and can test specific questions or hypotheses as they relate to these dynamics. The overall goal is to use survey data to build a narrative that applies DEIB to drive your organization toward a world-class future.
Now that you have analyzed and shared the survey insights, you’re ready to take action. Watch this space for the final installment of our DEIB series, in which we’ll take a closer look at DEIB Action Planning.