Three Things to Prioritise when Collecting DEI Data in the Workplace


Table of Contents

Where to focus your attention when it comes to DEI data for inclusion

1. Establish clear goals first

If you’re going to go about gathering DEI data, your first priority is to determine why you are gathering data at all. When approached strategically DEI data can form the basis for meaningful change in the workplace – so you don’t want to waste a valuable opportunity to accelerate inclusive outcomes by investing in DEI data collection initiatives with no clear aims and objectives. This can quickly lead to fatigue and disinvestment from DEI in your organization. Furthermore – resourcing DEI initiatives is not only important but also often challenging – especially in challenging economic climates, so you don’t want to waste a valuable opportunity to accelerate inclusive outcomes by investing in DEI data collection initiatives that simply lead to stale data sets that cannot be utilized for action.

Start by thinking about what sort of data you want to collect and why. Is it structural or cultural? Technical or experiential?  Harvard Business School Professor Frances Frei makes a useful distinction between “achievement” DEI data and “sentiment” DEI data). Achievement data is measuring your organization’s DEI progress over time – ‘temperature checking’ the initiatives in your workplace that seek to change specific outcomes across the employee life cycle – for example, how many departments or functions have embedded the accessible meeting protocol guidelines you put in place last year? Are men progressing more quickly and in higher numbers than women? Some of this data can be quantitative – hard numbers can tell an accurate story if the data collection methods are robust – and ideally, some qualitative data; because the most vivid and accurate picture nearly always requires some nuance and color beyond hard numbers. Sentiment data on the other hand is about employee experience – what is the lived, everyday reality of being an employee at your workplace for different communities and demographics? For example, how accessible do people find meeting structure/processes? What is people’s experience of the progression/promotion process? Before you go about surveying people or crunching numbers – get clear on what you want to learn and why.

2. Gather and analyze data intersectionally 

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

Racial identityEthnic identityGender identitySexuality identityClass identityFaith identityDisability 

Traditionally DEI data is often limited in the scope of which demographics are considered – more often than not we are only looking at ethnicity, race, and gender. This is limiting because inequity is experienced in relation to class, sexuality, and faith too. Furthermore – inequity is also experienced in different ways by people who experience multiple kinds of inequity based on their identity. To reveal the most robust and accurate insights, demographic data should not only be organized inline with the above categories – but also should be analyzed at the intersection to reveal – what is the experience of progression processes for Disabled Black Women, Disabled Black Men, and Disabled White Non-Binary folks for example? Intersectional DEI data collection and analysis is KEY to unlocking insights that are accurate, robust, and specific – and designing workplace DEI solutions that are the same

3. Plan your communications strategy

Communicating your findings transparently is important but care and caution are key; your DEI data collection may reveal areas of concern, or failure, in terms of your organisation’s DEI goals and commitments – it may reveal barriers to inclusive outcomes for marginalized groups, and patterns of exclusion. Revealing those trends where they exist is indeed central to why we gather DEI data in the first place. When reporting these findings to your staff body the first question people will legitimately ask is – what is going to be done to change these trends and realities? Establish initiatives, strategies, and tactics for change first, and communicate your aims and commitment with these along with the presentation of your findings – articulating “here is what we found and learned, and here is the approach and steps we are taking in the short and longer-term” is key to building trust in your organization’s commitment to DEI and to encouraging engagement in DEI data collection in the future. 

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 processes 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 organizational 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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