How to Conduct DEI Employee Engagement Surveys in the Workplace?


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Our simple guide for how to design employee engagement surveys effectively

Traditional employee engagement surveys are about understanding how someone thinks, feels, and acts to help their organization achieve its strategic goals. DEI employee engagement surveys have a slightly different focus – or at least they should. Effective employee engagement surveys gather data about the experience, engagement, and capability of employees around DEI within a workplace. 

Why are employee engagement surveys essential?

There are three main reasons why, if designed and analyzed effectively employee engagement surveys are essential. They allow you to:

  • Give employees a voice –  ensuring your DEI efforts are rooted in and responsive to your people, is key to success.  Employee engagement surveys create space for people to surface or comment on issues, challenges, and successes they observe and experience.
  • Identify DEI priorities – employee engagement survey data can be a source of rich insight and an evidence basis, allowing you to identify the priority areas for DEI goals actions, and initiatives.
  • Measure DEI progress over time – if designed effectively employee engagement surveys can function as a ‘pulse check’ on the climate of DEI at the organization in the short term and as a metric for measuring progress over time.

How to conduct effective DEI employee engagement surveys – step by-step

1. Identify themes: there are 3 key areas you will want to think about:

Employee Experience:

  • To what extent do people experience equity in the organization?

Employee Engagement: 

  • How do people think and feel about workplace DEI efforts?
  • How do people act to help the organization achieve its DEI goals?

Employee Capability: 

  • To what extent do people have the DEI skill, capability, and resources required to act to help the organization achieve its DEI goals?

2. Design your questions

In order to gather rich insight from your employee engagement data and create space for meaningful data to be shared with you, use a combination of open and closed questions – allowing for qualitative and quantitative data.

Be thorough and specific as possible in the demographic questions you ask.

  • Selecting “other” as your identity does not feel good. If you use the “other” category to group many communities with vastly different experiences (for example the “Asian” category) you limit the insight you need to drive equitable change in your workplace for specific communities.

Inline with our systemic approach to DEI at Fearless Futures, demographic questions should always cover identities in relation to:

Racial identityEthnic identityGender identitySexuality identityClass identityFaith identity

The exception to this is where there are legal restrictions to gathering some demographic data. 

3. Analyse employee engagement data intersectionally

The category ‘Women’ is very diverse. As is the category ‘Muslim’. As is the category ‘Working Class’. Because Muslim, Working Class Women exist in all these categories and have very different experiences to Upper-Class Non-Muslim Women – for example. Traditionally employee engagement survey data is analysed in silos – meaning we look at what Women are thinking, feeling, experiencing, and we look at what Muslim people are thinking, feeling, experiencing – but we aren’t looking at what Muslim Women are thinking, feeling, experiencing or how it differs to Non-Muslim Women.

Intersectional employee engagement data analysis is KEY to unlocking insights that are accurate, robust and specific – and designing workplace DEI solutions that are the same. 

4. Transparent reporting

If you are gathering employee engagement data from your people about their experience of their workplace, they will want to see it. Reporting transparently is a key way to demonstrate transparency and build trust – both of which are essential for creating a culture of engagement in your employee engagement surveys year on year.

So while, traditional employee engagement surveys don’t necessarily have a DEI focus. With these four steps, you will be able to successfully gather data about the experience, engagement and capability of employees around diversity equity and inclusion within your workplace. 

Looking for expert consultancy on your DEI data solutions? Get in touch with Fearless Futures.

  • We build and evaluate Employee Engagement Surveys and data collection methods.
  • Our Ecosystem Audit  allows you to ground your DEI strategy in robust data and insight, and targeted best-in-class inclusion tactics suited to the specific needs of your ecosystem. We surface the DEI dynamics across people, policy and process that are enabling and constraining equity, to deliver you a strategic recommendations report: your roadmap to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of the organisational ecosystem and enact transformative and sustainable change at scale.
  • We unlock insights in existing data sets – from pay equity, to recruitment, to progression and beyond. Using our intersectional Analysis Modelling™ Predictive Modelling for Inclusion™ we make your data work better for inclusion
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