What Diversity Questions Should Be on Employee Surveys?

March 12, 2012 9:13 am
What Diversity Questions Should Be on Employee Surveys?

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Q: We’re looking to post employee polling questions on our diversity and inclusion website. Do you have tested questions that might be probing and relevant to our company?

A: Polling employees about diversity is a key way to gain critical feedback on the impact of your company’s diversity initiatives. All of the DiversityInc Top 50 companies include questions specific to diversity in their employee surveys. These questions also serve to increase knowledge of engagement and awareness.

The DiversityInc Top 50 companies also use these questions to drive specific diversity results, such as increasing participation in mentoring and employee-resource-group programs.

Take Sodexo, No. 2 in The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. The company uses employee-engagement surveys to measure the effectiveness of its IMPACT cross-cultural mentoring program. Participants are polled twice throughout the one-year program—at the midway mark and at the end. Questions are designed around engagement, job satisfaction, performance and retention. Results showed that the top three intangible benefits of the IMPACT program for mentees and mentors were increased communications, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. More than three-quarters of each group attested that the program increased their desire to stay with the company. Sodexo also uses results from the surveys to constantly refine its mentoring programs. More about Sodexo’s mentoring program and results from its employee-engagement surveys can be found on BestPractices.DiversityInc.com. Read Mentoring Roundtable: How Mentoring Improves Retention, Engagement & Promotions for more information.

For one DiversityInc Top 50 company, diversity surveys increase awareness of and participation in its resource groups. This company surveyed employees in its resource groups and those not in its resource groups. On a year-to-year basis, employee engagement increased considerably more for those in resource groups.

Start by creating specific questions to gauge the effectiveness of your programs, such as mentoring, ERGs and diversity training. Asking questions around the importance of those programs to one’s career development is critical. For mentoring, you want to focus on the relationship between mentor and mentee and if the programs are easily accessible. Finally, look to gain perspective from employees on whether the mentoring or ERG programs are effective in recruiting, advancing and retaining talent at the company.