Skip to navigation
5 Min Read

How to Conduct a DEI Survey in the Workplace

Claire Beveridge

Any good diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy starts with employees. After all, they’re the people who work in your organization and will be impacted by your DEI efforts. 

So to gain insights that help your DEI work, it’s worthwhile to run a DEI survey to understand the current state of DEI in the workplace, gather employee sentiment, and make data-driven decisions about your DEI strategy. Here’s how.

What is a DEI survey?

A DEI survey gathers information and insights related to diversity, equity, and inclusion within an organization. The survey collects data about employee demographics, including age, gender identity, race, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, and other relevant diversity factors. 

A DEI survey aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the makeup of a workforce to help leaders understand their employees, strategize DEI efforts, and write an impactful DEI statement.

Additionally, a DEI survey might include questions that assess the perceptions and experiences of individuals regarding equity and inclusion within the organization. For example, asking questions on topics such as workplace culture, career progression, pay equity, discrimination, and other aspects that influence diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The purpose of a DEI survey is to gain valuable insights into the current state of DEI within an organization, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to foster a more inclusive and equitable environment. 

Different types of DEI surveys

Comprehensive survey

A comprehensive survey assesses a wide range of aspects related to DEI. Unlike pulse surveys that capture a snapshot of specific issues or sentiments at a certain point in time, comprehensive DEI surveys provide a more in-depth analysis of the diversity and inclusion landscape.

Demographics survey

A demographic DEI survey collects data on employee characteristics such as age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other relevant factors. They provide a snapshot of the diversity within the organization being surveyed.

Employee engagement surveys

An employee engagement survey measures employee perceptions of their workplace, including job satisfaction, opportunities for career growth and development, inclusion in decision-making, and overall employee engagement.

Pulse surveys

A pulse survey is designed to quickly gather feedback and insights from employees. It’s called a “pulse” survey because it aims to take the “pulse” and measure the current employee sentiment at a particular point in time. Pulse surveys are typically shorter in length and distributed more frequently compared to other surveys.

How to run an effective DEI survey

Conducting a DEI survey in the workplace requires careful planning and implementation to ensure meaningful and reliable results. Here’s how to do it. 

1. Hold a kick-off meeting

First, establish key stakeholders and involve them in the process. Depending on the structure of your business, stakeholders might include the head of HR, members of the DEI team, and senior leadership. Ask for their input to support the survey and correlate buy-in.

In your first meeting, you’ll need to consider the following questions to help clarify your objectives:

  • What are your goals? 
  • What do you want to achieve or accomplish by creating and sharing a DEI survey? 
  • How does a DEI survey relate to your overall DEI strategy? 
  • What data or insights do you need?
  • What questions do you need to ask to get these insights?

2. Draft survey questions

A DEI survey will yield valuable data-driven information, but only if you ask the right questions. So think carefully about what insights you need and draft a list of questions that relate to your organization and its goals. Include a mixture of closed and open questions to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. 

3. Notify your team about the DEI survey 

It’s worthwhile to notify employees a few days in advance that you’ll be distributing a DEI survey. Giving teams a heads-up means that they’re not blindsided by an important task and can take some time to gather their thoughts before jumping in to complete the survey. 

Ideally, the notification and DEI survey distribution email will be sent from a HR professional or senior management to add weight to the idea and help improve response rates.

4. Share your DEI survey 

Distribute your DEI survey via email, intranet, or meetings—whatever works best for your organization. Make sure you re-communicate the importance of completing the survey and let employees know that their contribution is valued, appreciated, and important. Emphasize the following points: 

  • Confidentiality and anonymity. Assure employees that responses will remain confidential and anonymous to encourage honest feedback. Use measures such as anonymous online survey platforms or third-party survey providers to maintain privacy.
  • Timeline. Communicate the survey duration and provide employees with sufficient time to complete it. Consider reminders and follow-up communications to maximize response rates.

5. Analyze the results

Once the survey is complete, compile and analyze the data. Depending on the format used for your DEI survey, you might have access to statistical tools and analysis techniques to identify patterns, trends, and areas of concern. 

DEI survey data: what to do next

The data collected from the survey should be used to inform initiatives aimed at creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. So once you’ve analyzed the data and assessed the insights, consider how to distribute and share the findings to achieve maximum results. 

For example, you could prepare a comprehensive report that summarizes the survey results and share this with your group of key stakeholders, including leadership, HR, and your DEI committee. Ultimately, you’ll want to use the insights to develop action plans, policies, or programs that address identified challenges and promote inclusivity.

A DEI survey is not a ‘one and done’ situation. Regularly review the effectiveness of the initiatives implemented based on the survey results. Continuously monitor progress, collect feedback, and refine strategies to ensure ongoing improvement in diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workplace.

Remember, conducting a DEI survey is just one step in the broader journey toward fostering an inclusive workplace. It should be complemented by ongoing efforts, education, training, and policies that promote diversity and create an inclusive environment for all employees—no matter their demographic.