A culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is not achieved in a singular action or event. It involves deep commitment and a journey of learning and improvement. It is a continued priority and an ongoing conversation, and a survey is a great way to keep active efforts going.
In this podcast episode, Christian Nielson, Chief Revenue Officer of DecisionWise and Dave Long, Chief Operating Officer, will discuss the best techniques to include DEI as a key component of an employee engagement survey.
Christian Nielson: The last few years, I don’t know if you noticed, but the last few years have been very interesting for all of us across a number of dimensions. COVID really changed what we saw at work you know, in every aspect of our life, but especially in the workplace, it’s been a fascinating study.
[00:00:22] Those of us who’ve been doing this work for a number of years, pre COVID, the last three years have been unlike anything we’ve seen. So we’ve got a couple of slides that we talk about shifting employer concerns. So as we’ve worked with all these organizations different topics are top of mind for our clients and I want to talk a little bit about how those have evolved a bit in the last few years, and this sets the stage up for the kind of the DEI conversation that we’ll be going into.
[00:00:48] So in 2020, we saw that the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns, we saw employers focused on safety protocols and migrating teams to remote work and DEI, which has always been important, but it really started to come to the forefront in a way that we haven’t seen.
[00:01:05] We’ve always had wonderful clients that have measured and been dedicated to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, but we saw more organizations making a priority. And a lot of this came as a result of increased civil unrest across the US. It became a national topic in a way that hasn’t been the case in the past.
[00:01:23] And so more organizations were coming to us to capture a baseline. So, you can see that kind of the top concerns we saw from employers in 2020, DEI was certainly in the mix and it was really around, are we diverse? Are we inclusive? Many organizations that had never looked at their employee survey with that lens, suddenly interested in capturing a baseline, which was great.
[00:01:47] And what was interesting for me, and I don’t know, Dave, if you have a different take, but not just new organizations, but industries that haven’t necessarily always been concerned with that. So, we saw more clients in the manufacturing industry or locations or geographies that haven’t historically been as concerned with DEI efforts really entering the conversation, looking to get some of this DEI information.
[00:02:12] Dave Long: And the way we measure DEI or measure anything on our engagement surveys, through a variety of different themes or constructs. And prior to 2020, part of our survey design process was always to, you know, introduce our clients to the DEI framework that we use and how you might be able to measure it in your survey, and maybe, I don’t know, maybe 20% of organizations decided to include that as part of their experience survey. After everything happened in the summer of 2020, it became more like, I would say 75, 80%. Of organizations and it was almost like they came to us well, that’s a given, we should have that in our survey. It wasn’t a choice or wasn’t anything to deliberate it over, whereas before they’d be like, well, I don’t know if I wanna include that now. It’s like most organizations are saying we really want to include this.
[00:03:03] Christian: Yeah, and it’s really fascinating to see that change and to see that change so quickly. And of course we in this space, you know, love that we’re able to have those conversations and go, you know, employ more of those techniques with our clients. If we watch this evolving conversation, we go from 2020, if we go to 2021 you know, you can see how the conversation still a lot of the same themes, but shifting a bit. Work from home. Is it working? You know, people are really concerned with that workload and stress and burnout, certainly retention, general culture. The DEI conversation for a lot of those organizations that just started their journey down this path, it went from, are we diverse? To now, are we getting better? We have a baseline. Are we improving? Are we making a difference in, in ways that are meaningful for our employees?
[00:03:53] And then if I jump to 2022, kind of what we’ve seen so far, it’s really been, you know, flexibility, retention, recruiting, workload, all those things, mental health, certainly as people are dealing with a lot of internal and external pressures, the DEI conversation has, you know, still are we diverse and inclusive? Are we getting better?
[00:04:12] But this conversation around belonging, which we’ll spend a lot of time on, really entering more of the organizational conversation around, do employees feel like they belong? And we’ve got some really interesting data and thoughts on the importance of this concept of belonging to an organization or this sense that we belong. So we’ll get into that.
[00:04:30] So DEI has always been a very important concept and important topic. And we’re thrilled that it’s, it’s coming to the forefront and we’re able to do more and not only um, so that we can, you know, help more clients down their journey with DEI, but also we’ve got more data than we’ve ever had where we, you know, our clients are providing with greater demographic information. So it helps us improve our methodology and our approach as well. So, Looking forward to um, going a little bit further here with you today.
[00:05:01] So we’re here talking specifically about, how do we measure DEI in employee engagement surveys? And I know we’ve got a lot of expertise in the audience and a lot of varied experience with this. We’re gonna talk about where we’ve seen some effective techniques. And when we talk about an engagement survey, you know, why would this be a good vehicle for capturing DEI information? Well, there’s a couple really important things to bring up.
[00:05:26] An engagement survey or an employee experience survey helps us measure the current employee experience. It gives us a snapshot of the current employee experience and usually this is across a number of dimensions. We use different survey items. They’re grouped into themes that we have different indices and benchmarks that we use to understand. And it, I mean, it’s a wide range. Our standard survey is around 50 questions give or take and it covers everything from, “do I have the basic tools and resources to do my job” to “is there a clear vision that I understand for this organization and everything in between as well as open ended questions and things like that. And so there’s a lot of different aspects of the employee experience that we’re capturing in employee engagement surveys. So it’s really great at helping give it that broad snapshot.
[00:06:16] An employee engagement survey is also great at telling us how the employee experience differs across populations. And what we mean by that, when you work with a third party like DecisionWise, we’re mapping employee survey responses to different, you know, structural and demographic data.
[00:06:36] And of course we’re working very hard to protect individual employees so there’s confidentiality thresholds and things to protect that but it’s really valuable to have that employee feedback mapped behind the scenes to the hierarchy, to different functional areas, to demographics, and especially in this conversation, the ability to link survey responses to demographic detail is very powerful so that we can understand, are we creating a different experience or is there a different experience being perceived by any subpopulation within our employee base? And demographics are very helpful at illustrating them.
[00:07:16] Dave: Whenever you run a survey with this purpose in mind, understanding that we want to examine the results by structure, yes, but also by specific demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, this is very sensitive for people. So we want to go about this in the best possible way. And the best possible way is to ensure confidentiality and the way you ensure confidentiality often is by having a third party that can keep the information confidential. The only other way to do this, if you’re running it internally, is to have people’s self-report demographics and if you have people’s self-report demographics, often in order for them to hide their identity, they will misreport their demographics. So it is very good if you can go in with the ability to overlay demographics after the fact, and the best way to do that is to go through a third party, especially when you’re asking about things with regard to, you know, age, gender, ethnicity, anything like that, it’s important to go through a third party. Now that sounds like we’re obviously a third party survey vendor. I would say that’s true for any third party that you use and confidentiality and safety around this process is goal number one and when you do a survey like this, you wanna have people feel like, okay, when I take this survey, there’s a chance something is gonna get better, but there’s no chance anything will get worse for me personally, no chance that somebody would be able to identify me based on my responses and be able to come to me based on those responses and react to me.
[00:08:48] Christian: Yeah. I think, well said, an important point. So we need that data. We have very limited use out of this information if we don’t have a hundred percent confidence that those demographics are mapped accurately and if they self-report they’ll misrepresent to, you know, provide an extra imagined level of confidentiality. But ultimately uh, when we run a survey like this, we’re also trying to build trust and make a commitment to the employee population that we’re gonna value and treat their feedback appropriately. So those thresholds are important and uh, whoever you work with on a survey is definitely a primary consideration.
[00:09:24] Let’s go a bit further. I want to talk about direct and indirect DEI measures in our survey. As we’re talking, we run these surveys with an organization, we look at the data through both direct and indirect measures of DEI and we’ll explain a bit about the differences here.
[00:09:41] So direct measures. DEI through items that reference aspects of DEI directly and we’ll looking at some examples in a minute, but the survey item itself mentions some aspect. It calls out diversity equity inclusion in some way in the statement itself. So when a participant responds, they know they’re responding to something that’s part of this DEI conversation in some form and we’ll, as I mentioned, look at some of those.
[00:10:08] Indirect measures assess DEI by reviewing the perception gaps of survey items that do not directly reference DEI. And so, you know, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a survey item that calls out DEI but we’ll look at it through the lens of different demographic categories so that we can see, is there a different experience here? So even if it’s around tools and resources, do we have a difference by gender, age, ethnicity. Whatever demographic category you have, you can look at any of the items through this DEI lens and say, is there a different experience being had by any population or group within our employee base.
[00:10:48] So let’s go further. In fact, let’s look at indirect measures first. So we know they are not directly referencing DEI. Here’s an example. “I feel I can speak up without fear of retribution or negative consequences.” This is just kind of the basic level of, do I have a voice here? Is it safe to have a voice? Do I feel I can speak up?
[00:11:08] Now this item by itself does not tell us much you know about DEI information until we cut the data by demographic details. So for example, if we look at this through gender, And this is just some sample data, but if we look at our organization, we see that there’s an eight point difference in how our male population fills compared to our female population. That tells us that there’s something to at least explore there and say, okay what is going on here? Why is there a different experience? What are we doing to create or potentially doing to create a different experience for females? And there’s you know, all sorts of different paths you can take with this in terms of looking for locations within your business. Is this a single team? Does this all roll up to a functional area?
[00:11:54] There’s a lot of, you know, context that needs to be added, but the demographic lens that we can look at a single item, even if it’s not calling out DEI in the item itself gives us some directional information.
[00:12:07] Dave: And just to kind of elaborate on your point a little bit there, Christian, you would never wanna look at any item by just one demographic and attempt to explain the score on that item by that demographic alone. So you would wanna look at it and say, okay, well we’ve got lower scores among our female population. Let’s look at that by department and is there a certain department that we have, or a location that we have that has a larger female population where it may be more difficult to speak up based on the location and who’s there, or maybe who’s leading the department then other places in the organization rather than just assuming immediately it’s because the reason why they’re having a hard time speaking up is females in this organization overall, have a hard time speaking up. So you wanna look at this through multiple lenses .That may very well be the answer, but we wanna make sure that we’re looking at this and see, is there anything else that helps us explain this, before we take action on something like this.
[00:13:08] Christian: A really great point. And this is one of the limitations that we have sometimes working with from the outside, looking in there’s some organizational context that you would have that helps you explain this internally if, you know, this is information for your organization. You know, just that context around why this might be. For example, and this is something that Dave and I can see from the outside, different industries have different roles that are dominated by one gender or another. Just statistically, that’s what we see. For example, healthcare. We often see a much higher percentage of female employees in organizations we work with versus, it would be we’d see more males. And so you do have to look at the data from different angles and say, are we creating a different experience? What’s the role of position? What are the other factors at play? But the cuts like this can give you a starting point to start following that and making sure we’re looking down the right path and at least starting then and exploring where there is a potentially a DEI opportunity to improve.
[00:14:06] Let’s look at direct measures. So, this is where we, I mentioned, that calls out something around DEI itself. Now this is interesting too so… well I’ll speak to the power of using both direct and indirect in a moment, but let’s look at this one.
[00:14:23] The example we have, “employees here are treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, religious beliefs and sexual orientation.” Now I pulled this from our benchmark file. But we have several versions of this particular item where that list is kind of tailored for the organization and updated a bit if you’re using different terminology around gender or, or any of these categories, but essentially this is clearly calling out a DEI element. It’s a direct measure and it’s important to have some of these and we’ll get into kind of our constructs here in a moment, because we wanna tap in, when we know we’re talking about DEI specifically, you know, how are we all feeling? And as, especially as we cut this by ethnicity, and this is again, this is just kind of demo data here, but this is a realistic view of what it might look like if we cut an item by race or slash ethnicity, depending on what our client provides us, but being able to see, are we having a consistent experience around this? Or where do we have some groups that don’t feel that there’s this level of organizational commitment around this aspect?
[00:15:27] So the power using both direct and indirect and especially as this became much more of a national conversation I think it was important because when we tap to a direct measure we’re tapping into a politically charged and present conversation that maybe, you know, isn’t just contained within the organization. And so we not only get a sense of how people are feeling, but we also get a sense of their expectations and what they’re expecting of the organization is if that bar’s being raised and things.
[00:15:55] So it’s important to call it out, but it’s also important to say, okay, are we negatively impacting any groups? On items that they, by themselves, the item itself, isn’t tied into a, you know, a diversity inclusion conversation by itself, even, you know, simple things like tools and resources. Is there a group in our organization that feels like they don’t have access to the basic tools they need to do their job? It’s important to be able to look at that through a DEI lens and make sure that we are creating a consistent positive experience and so the power of direct and indirect measures of DEI really opens up this conversation and helps provide some really useful information on the back end of a survey.
[00:16:36] Dave: I think a lot of people would tell you that you would be okay with just taking indirect measures, understanding there are certain things or certain items that impact various populations differently. By including more of this explicit, direct measure of DEI in your survey, you’re communicating to your organization that this is important to you. If this is not part of your employee experience survey, then these days it’s becoming almost conspicuously absent you know, you’re communicating something by not having something like this in your survey if that makes sense to you.
[00:17:12] So yes, I do believe there’s lots of information and maybe even more detailed information, definitely more detailed information we can get from indirect measures, but having the direct Tells you the temperature around, it tells you how people are feeling around your DEI efforts and it also sends out a communication that says, Hey, we’re measuring this as part of your experience because we understand it’s part of your experience and it’s important to us.
[00:17:34] Christian: That’s a great point. And we use that on several dimensions of the survey. You know, the survey tool itself is a communication mechanism. The things that we ask about send a message. The things that we don’t ask about send a message as well and so I think it’s a good point. You know, we want the direct measure data and that’s useful, but we also want people, our employees to know that it matters to us. And so that we’re measuring it because we care about it and it’s a commitment we’re making. So it’s a good point that those direct measures help strengthen the perceptions in the organization that this is a priority.
[00:18:07] So there’s a lot you can do with this data and you, it will also kind of say you could very easily get overwhelmed by different data cuts. I wanna give a view of what just demographic ranking looks like now. Demographic rankings will the kind of the named after the area of the reporting tool we use for this, but basically it’s take every item in the survey, pick a demographic category, and that could be something that’s not even historic or maybe surface level tied to those categories, but you can look at every item in your survey this way, at least in, in our tool and I know there’s probably others that, that have a similar approach. I don’t have every item in a standard survey. I just took kind of a snapshot to paint a picture of what that might look like and then I filtered it by range. I said, I wanna look at all the items in the survey by ethnicity, and I wanna see the largest gaps. And so I singled out the largest gap here. There’s a 34 point gap. Now I also picked one that was kind of a little bit ambiguous in terms of what do you do with this? And I wanna talk about that for just a moment.
[00:19:12] So here, the item is, “most days I look forward to my work” and this particular sample client would’ve provided these categories. These aren’t our standard categories. We defer to what our clients, how they capture and organize this data.
[00:19:26] Two or more races. 53% favorable on that. And those employees that are identified as not specified, or they don’t have any ethnicity or race ethnicity data, 87% of their employee population, or excuse me, the survey population fall into that category. So there’s a 34 point gap. Now those two categories can be changed to, to take direct action and find a way to improve it.
[00:19:49] The first question Dave, and I would ask after this are population sizes. You know, if often the smaller the group, the more extreme the response can be just, law of large numbers. These smaller numbers are gonna range higher or lower and so, if not specified is 90% of your company then that tells you that group is pretty representative data or if two or more races is, you know, a big portion of your organization, that also has a little bit more meaning.
[00:20:16] But if we’re talking about three or four people here, well, one our confidentiality thresholds wouldn’t add up or wouldn’t show that data. But let’s say you’re a company of 20,000 employees and there’s, you know, 30 people that show up in one of those categories, that’s not as telling is as if, you know, if we’re dealing with larger numbers and I would probably go to some of these other groups and say, okay, well, let’s look at Black African at 65% versus our Asian population at 80%. Why is there a different experience there and use that as a point of exploration, but the point of all this is to say you can use demographic detail to start exploring and start looking at, okay, where are we having a different experience? And again, you can also layer information say now I only wanna see this data for female employees or female managers.
[00:21:03] So there’s a lot of you can do to cut and look at the data from different directions to see, are we creating an inconsistent experience? Are we creating the right experience for all employees? And you can see how you could also uh, lose yourself in doing different cuts.
[00:21:17] We’ll talk about some ways to prioritize and focus, but I think it’s important to know you can take this lens across all items in a survey like this.
[00:21:27] Dave: And if you look at this data as Christian just pointed out, you might say, well, the most interesting difference to me would be the difference between the Asian population and the African American or the Hispanic population.
[00:21:37] And you might say, well, well, okay, well, let’s explore that deeper, but before we explore that deeper again, I wanna reemphasize this point. We want to overlay other demographic data on top of this to say, okay, Is it the Asian pop cuz for example, in a multinational corporation, your Asian population may be wholly located, a lot of it, may be wholly located in, you know, Japan or Korea or China or something like that. Right. So you may have an office there and, and so it may be more dependent upon that location than it is upon race or ethnicity. So you wanna overlay other demographic information on top of this before we make any assumptions for this.
[00:22:14] And what you do with this information is sort of hard to know as well, because what you don’t do is find, you know, a population that’s either doing well or not, while a member of one of these demographic groups and say to them, tell me what’s going well for you is, you know, that’s not really the way to handle it. It’s gonna be more complex than that. So it’s an interesting, you know, when you see or you find something out about this, there’s definitely something to explore here and trying to understand and if it’s specific to this group, is there something that we need to be doing about it and what are the things that we can actually do so that we don’t put it upon that population to fix the problem.
[00:22:53] Christian: Yeah I think great points. Everything should be considered from some, several different angles and especially when you’re dealing with information as important as this, and we’re cutting it this way, you can’t jump to conclusions. You really have to make sure you’re thinking it through from the right directions and that’s where a lot of times I think that the value that Dave and I, as outsiders at is, you know, just being a sounding board and being able to ask and being a thought partner, as we try to decipher what’s going on here, what other questions do we need to ask? And also, where do we go from here to get some additional information?
[00:23:26] Speaking of additional information on my own segue there, the next slide is around external DEI benchmarks. Dave and I live in the world of data. We love benchmarks. But there’s some considerations, especially when we start to look at demographic benchmarks. So, those of you who worked with us or maybe other organizations know, we often will provide kind of a global benchmark for your data as well as an industry benchmark. So if your hospital will provide a healthcare benchmark or we’ve got manufacturing, and we’ve got, you know, like 130 different benchmarks, we can provide in, in different regional benchmarks and wonderful things and it’s a really great external comparison.
[00:24:05] But when we talk DEI benchmarks, there’s some pros and some cons. So I thought we’d just chat about a couple of those for a minute. Let’s talk about pros of DEI benchmarks. It’s great to ground you in some context. So, for example, when I showed a five point difference, male and female on a particular item, first question is often, is that normal? Is that something that’s, you know, within some kind of tolerance? And we can use benchmarks to ground you in a bit of like, yeah, here’s what we see at other organizations.
[00:24:35] And that, to the second bullet point, can help create some urgency. If you’re trying to build a case for this, benchmarks can sometimes be your best friend. If you go to the CEO and say, Hey, we’re 20 points above or, you know, below benchmark on this, like normally we’re seeing a five point difference and we’re seeing 20 point differences. We’re 25 point differences on this. That can help build some buy-in and urgency. Oh no, we’ve got a problem. We’ve gotta address this right now. So there’s some real benefits there.
[00:25:04] There’s some limitations as well. So let’s say you’re doing better than our benchmark. Well, that might be an excuse for the organization to say, okay, we’re good. And being to that second point, alignment with the benchmark doesn’t necessarily mean you’re where a final destination’s been reached. Our benchmarks reflect what we see across all of the companies. It doesn’t mean what’s possible or where, you know, society should be striving to be. Benchmarks is really normative data. It’s not a high watermark unless we’re using our benchmark, which would be you know, we have some top decile benchmarks and things like that, but for DEI items, that’s just an important note.
[00:25:42] We’re really looking at, okay, this is what we’re seeing on average. Average doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the ideal or where we should stop. And so there’s some trade offs in terms of using external comparisons for DEI elements. That said, let’s look at a few. This comes from our DecisionWise benchmark files. We use a trailing benchmark of four years, and so there’s gonna be over 50 million employee survey responses in here and that’s why we can do some interesting cuts.
[00:26:12] Now some other challenges, by the way, with this is not every organization categorizes their data the same way. For example, many have different categories for gender. And so it’s a bit inconsistent. Some might have two categories, some might have eight, you know. There’s different ways that… And so, as we aggregate that data, we have to try to make sure everything align up and ethnicity categories are similar. We’ll get kind of a variance in how that, so we have to go through the scrubbing exercise to make sure we can have meaningful comparisons. All those caveats aside, let’s look at a few of these gaps.
[00:26:46] Gaps by gender. Here’s where we’ll see some of our larger gaps. “I feel that I can share my ideas and opinions without fear of negative consequences.” We saw a different version of that same item: female 75%, male, 80%. That’s from our current benchmark. We see a five point difference. So here we can illustrate that point. We might be aligned with that benchmark, but is that good? I mean, there’s still a five point difference. And so there’s still this internal conversation you need to have with the context of your business. Maybe that’s great cuz maybe it was a 20 point difference three years ago and you’ve been working really hard at it. And this shows significant success. Maybe this isn’t… you know, you see this through the eyes of there’s a different experience and that’s not acceptable, but here is what we’re seeing in our benchmark file and it doesn’t necessarily give you all the guidance that has to be filtered through the context of where your organization is and what commitment you have from leadership for a DEI excellence.
[00:27:42] Let’s look at a direct measure. “Employees here are treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.” Female employees, 83% favorable. Male employees, 88% favorable. So we see again, a five point gap there.
[00:28:00] Let’s look at some gaps by ethnicity. And again, this is where we, after we aggregate our data, where we have enough information in various categories to provide. So it’s not gonna be inclusive of every possible category for ethnicity, but where we’ve got enough data, we’ll pull out where we see some of the larger gaps.
[00:28:18] “Creating an inclusive environment is a top priority for this company.” Our largest gap and this one’s interesting, if we look at Black or African American, and then also our Asian population, we see 71% favorable; hispanic or Latino, we see 82% favorable on that particular item.
[00:28:36] ” Employees are treated equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender disability, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation.” A black or African American, 75% favorable. Hispanic or Latino, 86 percent favorable there.
[00:28:51] ” I feel challenged and stretched in my job in a way that results in personal growth.” Black or African American, 64%. White employees, 73% favorable. So, a nine point gap on this item that’s around growth.
[00:29:04] A key component, an expectation of all employees that we’re here to explore our potential, that there’s some investment in our growth and development.
[00:29:11] Dave: Christian, I know we have time at the end to answer a few questions, but I want to address, maybe answer, a couple of the questions that are coming in through the chat, if that’s okay for a second. One of them was, what’s the minimum to preserve confidentiality thresholds, speaking from the frame of reference that their company is under 200 people.
[00:29:27] Our default number for confidentiality threshold is five. And that means five, not just five people in a group. And we can divide it up by different demographic categories. Each demographic category that we report on would have to have a minimum of five people in it.
[00:29:43] Now there are organizations where they feel like trust or, and or safety, and the organization is low where they would set their threshold at 10 or 20. It’s really up to you how you wanna do that in order to ensure that the level of safety, but whatever number you choose, you really want to communicate that ahead of time and make sure that people know, okay, this is gonna be divided up by, you know, by groups of no fewer than five or 10 or whatever it might be, so that people know that when they’re responding to the survey ahead of time.
[00:30:15] There’s another question about splitting up possibly race and ethnicity as two different categories. I think that’s something that we would be able to do for sure. But it’s just a matter of the data that you have. In your system. So if you haven’t been collecting separately, race and ethnicity information, most organizations have those grouped together. Then we wouldn’t be able to do it you know, overlay that demographic on top of survey data. But if you have separate ethnicity versus race in your system, and certainly that would be a valuable way to look at it and usually what, the way we would define the difference between those two would be, race would be based on, you know, strictly physical characteristics. Whereas ethnicity brings into effect culture and different, maybe even different regions that you might be coming from, et cetera. So it certainly is a viable way to look at this data. And I would say an important way to look at this data. But most organizations that we have worked with do not have those as separate categories. They’re usually put together into the same category.
[00:31:13] We’ll look at some of the other questions and continue to answer those as we get through this, but I just thought we’d address a couple of ’em right now.
[00:31:20] Christian: Yeah. I’m glad you did. I’ll just speak to this last one too. There’s a question, why not say gender identity instead of gender? The terminology and the categories we use is really a function of the way the companies that work with the store their data.
[00:31:34] We do have a few companies that now are using more of that terminology, gender identity, gender expression. We have, we’ve seen some that do gender at birth. It’s a complex and changing language that we’re seeing our clients use. Our data in our database is really a function of the way it’s packaged and sent to us from our clients.
[00:31:52] I expect in the coming years, we’ll start to see more of that terminology become the standard across our client base. And we’ll see those categories in that terminology find its way into…
[00:32:03] Dave: And Christian that’s really a function of what’s in your system. If you’re collecting gender information, historically some of that gender information could be collected 10, 15 years ago in your database.
[00:32:15] And so it would be going too far to assume that is the person’s gender identity to say gender identity. It may not be correct. That is somebody’s gender identity. If you did not ask somebody for that specific information or you haven’t updated it, it may not be specifically that.
[00:32:30] And so we keep it as gender because that’s, you know, that’s the original collection method was, you know, on an application or whatever that they filled out a long time ago when they were filling out their papers to, to join your organization, that’s what they would’ve declared. And so that’s why we use the word gender, that’s what’s in the system.
[00:32:47] Christian: I think that’s a great point. And also kind of the broader question there is we see a lot of organizations that want to have more of a DEI measurement in their survey, but they haven’t historically captured some of the demographic data.
[00:32:59] Easiest time to do that is with onboarding, but gender identity and some things need to be updated through time and so that’s beyond the scope of this conversation, but an important reflection is to be, you know, how are you maintaining that information internally? And what demographics do we need to be collecting for the type of discovery or information we want to be able to have access to in the future?
[00:33:20] I do like this statement and this… You know, we live in our space as employee experience and employee feedback collection benchmarks are kind of a market must. People won’t work with us unless we’ve got robust benchmarks and we do, and we take it very seriously with data, invest in data science and do a lot to measure and understand benchmarks, but there’s a lot of limitations of benchmarks and ultimately, the most meaningful comparisons we found for organizations are internal. How are we doing today versus yesterday? Where do we wanna be tomorrow in any of these things? And I think that’s especially true for DEI. The most meaningful metrics are going to be your company’s own DEI baseline and then subsequent progress. And so a lot of the more meaningful comparisons, not to minimize benchmarks and norms, it’s they have their place as we mentioned. But it’s really gonna be that own internal accountability.
[00:34:17] All right. So let’s talk a bit about the DecisionWise framework for DEI. Because we mentioned you can open up every item and look through the lens, but if we wanna try to zero in, on some key components or constructs of DEI, we’ll walk through what we’ve been using for the last several years with great success, which is a framework around voice growth, belonging, organizational commitment, those top three would be or indirect measure and that bottom at a very direct measure of DEI. And so I’ll speak a little bit about each of these categories and why we use them.
[00:34:51] The first one: voice. Employees feel their thoughts and opinions are heard and reasonably considered in organizational decisions. Reasonably heard, reasonably considered. A little side note, one of the items we pay a lot of attention to is this organization cares about employees. If we pull out the strings on that and look at the drivers or correlates of that item, People feel cared for when they feel heard. And so we have a number of items that we would flag as employee voice to capture this aspect. And for example, one is that item we’ve seen a couple times throughout our conversation. I feel that I can share my ideas and opinions without fear of retribution or fear of negative consequences. We have that item. We have it at the team level and at their manager, we have items that the organization values, employee feedback, those type of things, but the sense of a voice is a key component of the employee experience in a very important construct in the um, DEI lens.
[00:35:45] Growth. Employees feel they have opportunities and resources to develop and grow in the organization. We saw in one of our benchmarks that Black/African American employees felt differently or felt less favorably towards a growth item than their white peers and this is a key component of DEI. Do I feel like I can explore my potential here? Is the organization going to invest in growth? And I’d also point out, we see some interesting things with generational differences as well. Our millennials especially expect to be paid in growth. And so if we’re not creating that same perceived experience around, you have an opportunity to grow here for any population then we’re doing them a disservice. And so we wanna make sure we’re understanding that.
[00:36:30] Belonging. We’re gonna say a lot about belonging here. Belonging: employees feel accepted, comfortable, and connected within the organization’s culture. And the item we use here is maybe my favorite item in our entire survey. “I feel like I belong here.” Dave, do you wanna talk a bit about belonging? Why this gets a little extra press in our presentation today?
[00:36:53] Dave: Yeah, and belonging. And many of you may already be using a new acronym. Instead of DEI, you may be using DEIB. It’s something that we pointed out. You know, as we talked about how the conversation is transitioned from 2020, you know, this idea, we need to start measuring this. We need to get a baseline to 2021. We’re now looking, can we improve? And now here in 2022, we’re understanding DEI on a deeper level to understand that belonging, the degree to which somebody feels like they belong, or they feel like they’re included or they feel comfortable in the organization is a critical factor to whether or not they feel like the organization itself is inclusive of them.
[00:37:35] What’s interesting about belonging is oftentimes you might look at that and think, well, if they feel like they like the people that they work with every day, that the team that they work on, they’re gonna feel like they belong. It turns out almost everybody in our benchmark, most people in our benchmark, really like the people that they work with every day, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they feel like they belong there. Those two things don’t correlate at all. In fact, what we find out is my sense of belonging is often driven by how I feel in relation to the organization I work for as opposed to just the people that I work with on a day to day basis.
[00:38:14] Certainly there are aspects of belonging in groups and teams and things like that. But when somebody says I’m a survey, I feel like I belong here, there’re oftentimes saying that in relation to how they feel in the context of the organization. So if they feel comfortable in the organization, if they feel comfortable, if they feel like they have growth opportunities, they have a voice here, they feel like they’re included at an organizational level, then they’re more likely to be favorable about this.
[00:38:39] Now, why is it so important that they’re favorable on “I feel like I belong here.”? This is the single item in our survey that shows up as a top driver of engagement, more than any other item that we ask in a 50 question survey. So “I feel like I belong here” becomes the most important driver of engagement that we ever ask. In fact, this is the frequency in companies in our data, this is just, you know, this is the number of times that these show up as drivers 465 times out of all the, where I think it’s out of 600 or so organizations in our database, 465 times the “I feel like I belong here” has shown up as a driver of engagement.
[00:39:16] Now that is remarkably high from a percentage standpoint, but it also is telling us that your organization is probably not unique. Belonging, there is gonna be as critical as almost any other factor. We’ve been measuring belonging as part of the DEI index for several years. Now it’s been an important part of this index. Not only because it’s something that differing populations or groups might see differently based on personal characteristics, but also because how they view this thing. Is gonna determine how much they’re willing to give back to the organization in the way of engagement, additional effort, additional commitment, more of their ideas, more of their talents to the organization, how they feel about their ability to belong there and fit in is critical for that. And so that’s really where we get a tie in from diversity, equity and inclusion to, okay. Does this impact business results? Well, you bet it does. I mean, if people feel like they’re included comfortable in the culture, feel like they belong in your organization, they’re gonna be giving more of themselves to your organization. It definitely does impact organizational results because of that.
[00:40:27] Christian: For me it’s had a major impact on how I see our entire field in terms of, you know, I used to talk a lot about, “oh, we build engagement, we help clients build engagement.” And then I realized, no, we don’t build engagement. We invite engagement through the experience I created. And now over time, I’ve learned we might not be inviting engagement. We’re really inviting people to belong and when they belong, they engage, they bring their best self, they bring their energy and everything they have to offer and so it is a fascinating item and it’s one that I pay close attention to any time I see it in an organizational survey.
[00:41:00] Dave: It’s an interesting one to reflect on yourself. Like if you were to think to yourself, what are the factors that help, you know, that you belong or don’t belong somewhere? And you think through that and you think through, you know, what, if I don’t feel like I have a voice here? What if don’t see representation of people like me in leadership in this organization? How would that impact my ability or my thought of how I belong here? And just doing self-reflection on that helps you understand how other people might feel about their ability to belong within an organization and it can be really informative in terms of how you might address that organizationally.
[00:41:37] Christian: Yeah. I’m gonna keep us moving. We got just a few more slides and then I know we probably wanna address some more questions. So the last construct… by the way, we could do a separate webinar just on belonging, but the last construct in our model is organizational commitment, the explicit or the, excuse me, the direct measure of DEI. “Employees feel the organization champions and sponsors diversity equity inclusion.” How much do I believe this matters to this organization is essentially what we’re capturing. And so you saw this item.
[00:42:06] We have many other items that we would include in this, and usually we measure these different constructs, we’d have three to five items per construct included in the survey, mapped to the area and this is just a sample one. I won’t go into detail here, but this is one of the ways we cut this data, to try to understand and we actually take a few extra steps with the math because small populations need to be considered. And you know, for example, in this group, and this is just some sample data, but in this group that’s fairly realistic. An organization this size might only have 15 employees that identify as American Indian/Alaskan native. That group can sometimes be either discounted because there’s only 15 or it can be over-counted if it’s an extreme population. And so there’s a few other things we do to make sure that we can compare all groups to each other. No one gets lost in the shuffle.
[00:42:58] And so here, you know, again, for time, I won’t go into great detail, but this is how we look at those four constructs. One of the ways we try to understand, where are their opportunities? Who isn’t having the experience that we’re committed to?
[00:43:13] So, some closing thoughts. Your survey can help you determine your baseline. And we recommend doing that through direct and indirect measures. A word about baselines. It’s a little bit outside of our methodology, but I’ve seen organizations have great success by utilizing a diversity and inclusion or DEIB maturity model. I know Deloitte has a phenomenal one, but just basically some way to assess where you are in a continuum, whether you’re in kind of more of a compliance mode, or if we’re in a real leader led DEIB environment, but using some kind of external standard, and then using your survey to kind of help measure the mile markers along the path is a great approach.
[00:43:52] A survey can help you surface areas for action or populations that aren’t having that experience, where there might be some additional discovery or follow up.
[00:44:00] Build organizational commitment and accountability. Once you have details, once you have information and metrics, you can start having those accountability conversations and commitment conversations with leadership. How committed are we to this? Is this the experience that we want employees to have? You can measure annual progress and to Dave’s point earlier, the survey itself helps communicate to the organizational commitment to employees.
[00:44:26] I think before we jump into a couple questions I just love this concept. A culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is not achieved in a singular action or event. It involves deep commitment and a journey of learning and improvement. It’s not just a one and done. Obviously but I think sometimes executives think it’s, oh, a box we can check and move on. This is a continued priority and an ongoing conversation and a survey and these metrics are a great way to keep that alive and to keep the active efforts going.
[00:44:54] So, with that, do we have any questions? I know we’re close on time here.
[00:44:59] Dave: So there’s really just one more question comes from trapper, which is suggestions for being inclusive in a multinational corporation. That’s one of those where I would really rely heavily upon local HR people. If you’re going into a different nation, you don’t want to assume the approach for DEI or the emphasis on DEIB would be the same. In a different country than it is in your home country, wherever that might be. So you wanna rely upon, you know, kind of what’s going on in that area, in that region, in that country in order for you to be able to really address that.
[00:45:32] Now, that’s true for all I think direct measures of DEIB in a survey. But for indirect measures, I would approach it the exact same way. When we’re talking about belonging and voice and growth, I’m gonna approach it the same way across the entire organization. I want to understand how people feel regardless of the nation that they happen to be in.
[00:45:51] Guidance on use of GDPR and reporting. We use GDPR as a default. On every survey that we do, we always ask for permission to collect the information that we’re about to collect.
[00:46:02] Christian: …and give opt out options as well.
[00:46:04] Dave: And there’s an opt out option every time we issue a survey. So that’s our default. We do that every time. We don’t have to do it in nations that don’t require it. But I would say in a multinational corporation, you would be compliant to that across the entire population.
[00:46:16] Christian: Another multinational consideration that we’ve seen is you know, just doing some legwork, doing some pre work and conversations with works council and just socializing this is our approach and what we’re doing, making sure everyone understands. Where confidentiality fits in.
[00:46:30] ] Great questions. We are at time. I want to thank everyone for participation and you know, exploring this with us.
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