What Diversity-Management Questions Should Be on Employee Surveys?

Diversity-management questions on employee surveys are a key way to gain critical feedback. What questions deliver results?

Photo by Shutterstock

What Diversity Questions Should Be on Employee Surveys?

Photo by Shutterstock

Question on diversity management: 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?

Answer: Diversity-management questions on employee surveys are 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-management results, such as increasing participation in mentoring and resource-group programs.

Take Sodexo, No. 2 in The 2012 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 mentoring 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. For more about Sodexo’s mentoring program and results from its employee-engagement surveys,  read Mentoring Roundtable: How Mentoring Improves Retention, Engagement & Promotions. Also watch our mentoring web seminar.

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 diversity-management programs, such as mentoring, resource groups 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 resource-group programs are effective in recruiting, advancing and retaining talent at the company.

Ask DiversityInc is a forum for companies to pose diversity-management questions to our expert team of benchmarking analysts. Our analysts base their responses on 12 years of data collected for The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity survey. If you have a question, please email us at askDiversityInc@DiversityInc.com

Recommended Articles


  • What diversity question?

    How ’bout: “Can you give any example where our diversity/affinity effort has either made money or cost the company? Please use examples.”

  • What about asking questions about minorities working under a specific management style? Are there surveys that have done that before?

  • One that I use “Why are you here?”

    The beauty of this question is that, regardless what answers are provided, the upshot is that, in order to achieve one’s goals, one is going to need support from others and understand that, to others, that person is among “the others” looking for support back.

    In other words, achieving goals requires helping others achieve their goals as well. An environment that is supportive of individuals’ pursuits and ambitions is an environment in which each individual is giving to the environment as well as getting from the environment – this requires taking interest in people as individuals and recognizing that, as whole people, their backgrounds are a part of their person; in other words, it means “doing unto others as you’d have them do to you.”

    Diversity rises above the colonial, exploitative position that “other people are there to be used for my advantage.” Diversity recognizes that other people are of equal worth, and are equally worthy of dignity and respect.

    Any organization that understands it is only as strong as its weakest links will understand that strengthening the weakest links strengthens the entire organization more than further strengthening the links that are already strong.

    Creating this thought in the context of a more theoretic framework is part of what I offer organizations to help their people “think” on their own when there is no manual to tell them “in this situation, do this. In that situation, do that.”

  • Billy E Showers Jr

    My question(s):

    What is the diversity makeup/breakdown at the executive level, top management level, middle management level, lower level management and any non management levels?

    Why are the different levels so different as it pertains to the diversity makeup?

    What was the makeup/breakdown before the diversity program initiative?

    • Very good line of questioning. Unfortunately, in too many situations, “diversity” is still an “accommodation” of those who do not have power by those who do.

      Diversity implementation should be visible at and from the top – we’ve got to talk the talk, and walk the walk.

  • Billy E Showers Jr

    I remember several years ago as a graduate student I took a few international business/diversity classes. My professors who happen to be white males were disappointed by the makeup of the classes. No white students. They added based on US expatriates data which concluded that whites are the predominantly US expatriates therefore their classes should have a greater number of white students. They confirmed that many whites think it is a waste of time and has little value when advancing in ones career. Companies do not recommend or suggest including such studies into the employees educational curriculum. That is why so many of my classmates believe within the workplace — action speaks louder than words.

« Previous Article     Next Article »