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Why collect and scrutinize the demographic diversity of your workforce? Governments produce population census data ostensibly to guide programs. Workforce population data serves a similar purpose.  Employee demographic information is so much more than providing stats to fulfill supplier diversity requirements or prescribed quotas. It’s a guiding light for organizations looking beyond ticking all the right diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) boxes. 

Collecting employee demographic information supports well-intentioned leadership directives rooted in the belief that diversity and belonging are moral and ethical imperatives. Gathering and tracking that data isn’t just “the right thing to do.” It’s the best possible thing you can do to understand the experiences of your employees from a variety of perspectives and create an environment where everyone feels like they’re valued and belong.  

How to Build Your DEI Cultural Mosaic Database

There are different ways to go about diversity, equity and inclusion assessments, and different ways demographic data can be gathered to help make sense of it all.   

Data can come from your HRIS and be built into the back end of your survey platform. Demographic information can also be collected using a standalone self-identification survey (during onboarding for instance or at any time during the employee life cycle for that matter). Alternatively, questions can make up part of your overall DEI survey.  

Some organizations don’t ask demographic questions thinking that they’re infringing on a person’s privacy, or that survey response rates and honesty might be jeopardized by a perceived lack of anonymity. But whenever self-identification questions are asked, respondents must be clear that answers are voluntary.  And a trusted third-party vendor will make absolutely certain employee confidentiality is protected by hiding demographic data: from survey distribution lists through to post-survey reporting.  

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Some organizations may have demographic information but don’t correlate that information with DEI survey feedback. Yet if there’s one thing to be said about collecting and using employee demographics, it’s that it’s pivotal in terms of analyzing, understanding, and acting on sentiment results from diversity, equity and inclusion surveys.  

employee demographic - hands

Why Using Employee Demographic Data to Segment Results is so Powerful 

Real change comes when you get to know and understand the makeup of your workforce population in the context of their lived employee experiences. Demographic data is your internal benchmark, a starting place from which to measure and monitor progress.  

What’s the current status of your organization’s diversity? If you’re just getting started with DEI, this is where to begin.  Think of the metrics as concrete building blocks. When put together they’re the foundation for advocacy and change. 

Are underrepresented groups fairing equitably? Are there any glaring gaps? Where are opportunities for improvement?   

If you’re looking to change up DEI policies and programs you’ll need to know how established initiatives hit the mark or fall short among your different employee populations. Segmenting DEI survey responses by demographics is where you’ll get those actionable insights.  

Examples of Employee Diversity Dimensions 

Key demographic factors typically cover age, ethnicity, gender identity, and disability status. But they’re just the tip of the diversity iceberg. As it’s frequently said in research circles: you can’t measure what you don’t ask. The more information you collect, the more insights you’ll have to work with. Other demographic dimensions include: 

  • Caregiver commitments
  • Compensation level
  • Formal education/literacy level
  • Job/function
  • Language/mother tongue
  • Newcomer status
  • Religion or belief system
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Special work/accommodation requirements
  • Tenure 

Are All Employee Demographic Dimensions Relevant? 

No, not necessarily. You’re best to customize and explore demographic dimensions and diversity questions directly applicable to your organization. 

employee demographic - LGBTQ

While self-identification questions around sexual orientation, for example, may be welcome in growing pockets around the world they’re wholly inappropriate for organizations operating in countries with low or no tolerance for LGBTQ+ rights 

Similarly, formal education may not be a vital consideration for operations reliant on low-skilled labor. On the other hand, diverse language and literacy levels may be central to understanding survey completion rates, especially if these differences haven’t been factored into your survey design.  

All that said, capturing as much employee demographic detail as possible opens up more channels from which to segment and explore sentiments unique to different workforce groups. 

WorkTango can help you on your employee demographic and DEI journey to feed you rich, valuable insights about your employee population. Schedule a demo to talk to us today!

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Look for a Relationship Between Demographic and Sentiment Data 

Do remote employees struggling socioeconomically have what they need to perform their jobs successfully off-site?  What about employees who self-identify a disability, do they have what they need to perform their jobs successfully? 

Are those at a higher earning level predominantly white? Does age or tenure or gender factor into this picture at all?  

Do people of color and people from other minority groups have reasonable representation across all levels of management? Is the process for career advancement/promotion transparent to all employees? Do people from all backgrounds and with a range of identities have equitable opportunities to advance their careers at your organization?  

Is your organization or any department or regional operation seeing a disproportionate number of women voluntarily leaving? Do your policies provide enough flexibility to support the caregiving demands that tend to fall to this population?  

Employee Demographics Get to the Crux of Your DEI Reality 

While a collective high score across your organization might look great at first blush, breaking out responses by different groupings is how employee demographic information empowers diversity, equity and inclusion.  It’s all about: 

  • Understanding the numbers 
  • Looking for differences specific to your organization’s demographic dimensions 
  • Establishing a relationship between demographic and sentiment data  
  • And channeling your efforts in the most impactful direction 

Additional Resources

Check out our guides on workplace culture, employee engagement, and employee surveys. Learn about every aspect of a successful employee voice initiative!

WORKPLACE GUIDES

We write on the current challenges HR and organizations are facing in order to support our community. Check out more of our articles here.

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