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How to develop a baseline measurement for your BDEI project

I was once asked if there is a standard baseline survey that can be used to jumpstart diversity and inclusion projects. Truth is, there isn’t a universal one for BDEI that fits every organization, as each organization’s needs, culture, and specific challenges can vary significantly.

However, there are established frameworks and widely-used surveys that can serve as a starting point or inspiration for creating a customized BDEI survey tailored to the specific context of an organization like that of the Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Benchmarks (GDEIB) and Harvard’s Project Implicit.

White paper containing a survey checklist on a brown clipboard. A silver pen is on top of it with a smiley.

While a standard baseline survey can provide a good starting point, to truly measure and understand the specific BDEI dynamics within your organization, a customized approach is often necessary. By tailoring your survey, you ensure that it is relevant and effective in measuring the metrics that matter most to your organization and its people.

Understanding the need for baseline measurement

Before launching any initiative, it’s crucial to know your starting point. In the context of BDEI, this means having a clear picture of how employees perceive belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. A baseline measurement serves several purposes:

  • Identifies strengths and weaknesses: Knowing what’s working and what isn’t helps in prioritizing areas that need the most attention.
  • Enables tailored strategies: Data-driven insights ensure that strategies are customized to address specific issues rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Tracks progress: Initial data provides a benchmark against which future data can be compared, showing where improvements have been made and where efforts need to be intensified.

Crafting the right questionnaire

Creating a questionnaire that effectively captures the nuances of your needs requires careful thought and planning. Here’s how to ensure your questionnaire does just that:

  • Include diverse metrics. A comprehensive questionnaire covers all facets of DEIB. This means asking about demographic data, perceptions of equity, feelings of inclusion, and a sense of belonging. Questions should be structured to elicit honest and informative responses, offering multiple choice answers alongside opportunities for open-ended feedback.
  • Ensure anonymity and confidentiality. For employees to provide honest answers, especially on sensitive topics like BDEI, they must feel confident that their responses are anonymous and will be handled with the utmost confidentiality. This assurance encourages more candid feedback, providing a more accurate picture of the workplace environment.
  • Use clear and inclusive language. The language used in the questionnaire should be clear, professional, and inclusive. Avoid jargon, overly complex questions, or biased language that could skew the data or alienate respondents.

Example questions to include

To give you a better idea, here are some key questions that can help gauge the current BDEI climate:

  • Belonging: Do you feel a sense of belonging at your workplace? Do you feel seen, heard and valued as yourself and without judgment?
  • Demographics: What is your gender, age, race/ethnicity? Do you identify as having a disability?
  • Equity: Do you feel you have equal access to opportunities for career advancement
  • Inclusion: Do you feel valued for your unique contributions at work?

Each question is designed to uncover different layers of the employee experience, helping to paint a comprehensive picture of the organization’s cultural dynamics. If you need help in designing your survey or with your BDEI project, get in touch!

Analyzing and using the data

Once the data is collected, the next step is a thorough analysis. Look for patterns that might indicate systemic issues or highlight areas of strength. This analysis will inform the development of specific, actionable strategies to enhance BDEI in your organization.

For instance, if a significant percentage of respondents feel they do not have equal access to career advancement, targeted developmental programs or mentorship initiatives might be necessary. If issues around belonging are highlighted, perhaps more teaming activities, or an improved manager-employee relationship is needed.

In other words

A BDEI baseline questionnaire is more than just a tool for assessment. It is a critical first step in a journey toward creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace. By understanding where you stand, you can make informed decisions that not only foster a better work environment but also enhance overall organizational performance.

Investing time in developing a detailed BDEI questionnaire is not just about compliance or following a trend. It’s about taking a proactive step towards change that ensures every employee, regardless of their background, feels valued and understood. With this approach, your organization can not only attract diverse talent but also retain it, by continuously evolving to meet the needs of its workforce.

This process is essential for any organization committed to making real and lasting changes in belonging, diversity, equity, and inclusion. It provides a foundation for strategies that are informed, intentional, and inclusive, ultimately leading to a workplace where everyone can succeed.#

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