How to measure Diversity and Inclusion for a stronger workplace

Becky Cantieri

Becky Cantieri
Chief People Officer

Customizable questions crafted by survey experts

Input from HR managers at startups, major enterprises, and speciality firms

Strategies for timing, sending, and optimizing D&I surveys

Boats with one red boat taking a new path

According to McKinsey, companies within the top quartile for diversity are 21% more likely to have good financial performance than companies in the bottom quartile—probably as a result of having a broader understanding of market needs. Diversity has also been correlated with higher rates of innovation. And companies are starting to pay attention.

Thirty-eight percent of the 12,543 working Americans we surveyed in 2018 said that it’s a high priority for their company, for business reasons and more importantly, for ethical ones. More and more companies have set diversity and inclusion related goals and committed to pursuing a more balanced workforce.

But unfortunately, these good intentions aren’t translating into employees’ real experiences. Many employees still feel that they don’t belong, and dozens of companies have made recent headlines for diversity and inclusion-related crises. In these workplaces, many female employees don’t feel respected (or sometimes even safe), minorities can be painfully underrepresented, people with disabilities often don’t have the resources they need to succeed, and so on.


Use our Workplace Equity IQ solution to better understand your current state, spot turnover points, and take immediate action.

No company wants to have a culture where not every employee feels like they can thrive, but it’s hard to address problems when you don’t know they exist. Without a way to measure inclusion, executives and HR teams have to rely on their own subjective perceptions of the culture at their organization—with varied level of accuracy.

But inclusion isn’t totally unquantifiable. If you want to know whether your employees’ experience aligns with your company’s ideals—at scale—you can just ask.

Survey asking if you feel like you belong at your company example

Surveys are the perfect tool for measuring the feelings and opinions of your workforce at scale.  When used correctly, they can raise red flags about potential problems within your company that you didn’t know about (and would never have thought to check for), and they can uncover opportunities to empower employees through internal programs.

There’s a ton to consider when you’re building diversity and inclusion into a company-wide initiative. We’ve broken this guide into navigable pieces so that you can skip around and focus on the areas most relevant to your business.

We recommend you start with 2 universal, overarching surveys: 1 for diversity and 1 for inclusion. These surveys give you a baseline breakdown of your current demographic makeup and whether or not employees of all backgrounds feel a sense of belonging.

From there, we’ll drill down into the specific areas where companies tend to struggle. You can read through all of them if you like, or skip to the areas that you think are the most relevant to your company, based on your results from the inclusion survey.

Then, we’ll cover different actions you can take to create change—including policies, programs, and strategies that promote diversity and inclusion. These strategies, which we’ve classified as either diversity-focused or inclusion-focused, are useful for every business.

Diversity and inclusion flow chart
Template pro tip
A note on templates in this guide: You'll be able to use all the templates we mention in this guide with a free SurveyMonkey account, but you won't be able to customize them with your own questions. If you have a paid account, you're free to use them however you want.

Get a baseline read on your company’s diversity metrics and company culture

If you’re reading this guide, you already know that diversity is important, and you might be responsible for promoting it at your organization. As an HR professional (or passionate advocate) charged with improving D&I, collecting diversity metrics is important. Comparing yourself over time to benchmarks helps you set new goals and clearly track your progress against them.

Diversity numbers tell you the overall makeup of your population, and which groups are underrepresented. The first step toward building an inclusive culture is understanding more about the humans already behind your workforce.

Diversity tracking seems like it should be straightforward, but if you really want to support your employees work toward a more balanced workforce, you need to think beyond traditional demographics—which really comes down to asking more than the obvious questions.

Impact of diversity on financial returns
Polaroids of diverse team