In today’s world, characterised by diversity and a growing awareness of inclusion, companies face the constant challenge of creating an equitable and inclusive workplace. In light of these developments, topics such as diversity and inclusion are becoming increasingly important. It is becoming clear that a diverse workforce is not only a goal in itself, but it can also make a significant contribution to a company’s innovation, performance, and competitiveness.

Companies can use a diversity survey to find out more about the state of diversity and inclusion with regards to their employees.

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Table of Contents

    Everything you need to know about a diversity survey 

    In this section we are going to show you everything you need to know about diversity surveys: from its definition, objectives, creation, and measurement to specific tips and potential challenges.

    What is a diversity survey? 

    Diversity surveys provide valuable insights into diversity within the workforce. Organisations use these questionnaires to collect data on gender, age, and more. This data helps to promote an inclusive work environment by taking targeted action based on the results. A sound understanding of diversity within the workforce is crucial for long-term inclusive initiatives.

    What is the goal of diversity surveys? 

    The overarching goal of diversity surveys is to gain insight into the composition of the workforce and identify potential inequalities or barriers that could impact diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

    Depending on the intention, the objectives of diversity surveys can be varied, such as:

    • Measuring and monitoring diversity in the workforce
    • Identifying areas where inequalities or barriers may exist
    • Evaluating the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion initiatives
    • Creating awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the company
    • Promoting an open dialog about diversity and inclusion in the workplace

    What areas does a diversity survey cover? 

    In this section, we concentrate on four focus areas that can be covered by diversity questionnaires.

    Workplace culture

    An inclusive workplace culture is crucial for the well-being and productivity of employees. Companies can use diversity questionnaires to measure their employees’ perceptions of equality and inclusion in the workplace. Questions about workplace culture can focus on whether all employees are treated equally and whether the atmosphere in the workplace is perceived as inclusive.


    Equal opportunities and the prevention of discrimination are fundamental principles that every company should adhere to. Diversity questionnaires can help uncover potential inequalities in development, salary structures, promotions, and other career opportunities. By asking specific questions, companies can find out whether all employees are receiving equal opportunities and whether discrimination is an issue that needs to be addressed.

    Harassment / sexual harassment 

    A safe working environment, free from harassment and sexual harassment, is essential for the well-being and satisfaction of employees. Diversity surveys can help to identify the extent and nature of harassment in the workplace. Questions on this topic should give employees the opportunity to anonymously share their experiences and express concerns.

    Company policies and processes

    Clear company policies and processes to combat discrimination and harassment are essential. Through diversity questionnaires, companies can measure their employees’ perceptions of the effectiveness and awareness of these policies. Questions can focus on whether employees know where to go if they experience discrimination or harassment and whether they have confidence that their employer will take appropriate action.

    How do you measure diversity and inclusion? Focus on four HR KPIs

    Selecting and analysing these four HR metrics enables companies to target their diversity and inclusion efforts and create a diverse and inclusive work environment.


    • Why this metric: Provides insight into the composition of the workforce. 
    • How to calculate: Analysis of workforce data for age, gender, education, etc. 
    • Implementation: Collect and analyse demographic data during hiring and employment. 
    • Value: Enhances diversity and inclusion efforts, and workforce planning. 

    Diversity and Inclusion Index

    • Why this metric: Measures the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
    • How to calculate: Based on workforce diversity data and inclusion survey results.
    • Implementation: Track demographic data and conduct inclusion surveys.
    • Value: Promotes a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

    Gender Diversity Ratio

    • Why this metric: Measures the balance of gender representation in the workforce.
    • How to calculate: Ratio of male to female employees or vice versa.
    • Implementation: Track and analyse gender data of the workforce.
    • Value: Promotes gender diversity and equality in the workplace.

    Pay Equity Ratio

    • Why this metric: Evaluates fairness in compensation across genders and other demographics.
    • How to calculate: Comparing average pay across different demographic groups.
    • Implementation: Regular analysis of compensation data.
    • Value: Promotes fairness and equality in pay practices.

    Our e-book: Your Ultimate Guide to HR Metrics

    E-Book: Your ultimate guide to HR metrics

    By the way, these four HR metrics are an excerpt from our guide to the strategic use of HR metrics. In this e-book we present a total of 53 HR metrics that you can use right away for decision-making.

    What to look for in a diversity survey 

    Diversity surveys are widely used in the United States. They provide a systematic picture of the diversity of genders and identities within the company. As feedback experts, we at Netigate are also seeing a growing interest in employee surveys on diversity and inclusion in Europe.

    Companies want to understand how diverse their workforce is, especially in management positions, and where there is a need for more diversity and equality. Studies such as Grant Thornton’s Diversity Barometer show that diversity is immensely important for companies.

    Nevertheless, well-intentioned doesn’t always mean well done.

    Our tips for your diversity survey

    • Avoid American survey templates for European participants. The framework conditions and cultural approach to this topic differ considerably.
    • Be careful with sensitive data! Diversity surveys concern very personal areas, such as a person’s gender identity.
    • Make sure that participation is voluntary. To be on the safe side legally, participation in such a survey must be voluntary. However, this voluntary nature is often difficult to guarantee in a professional environment.
    • Define clear objectives. Why is data being collected? The purpose of a diversity survey is often unclear—the objective should therefore be clearly defined.
    • Give preference to qualitative results. Although it is useful to collect quantitative data on diversity and inclusion, multiple-choice questions often provide limited insights. Qualitative questions, such as open text responses, allow respondents to formulate their answers authentically.
    • Use inclusive language. A good diversity questionnaire should be respectful. Therefore, test your questions in advance with a small target group and use inclusive language to build trust with survey participants.

    The challenges of a diversity survey

    When conducting diversity surveys, various challenges can arise that need to be carefully considered.

    Data protection

    One key aspect is undoubtedly the protection of sensitive data, particularly when it comes to questions about employees’ gender identity or sexual orientation. It is important to ensure that the data collected is stored and processed securely and that participants are informed about how their data is handled.

    Resistance from employees

    Some employees may be sceptical about diversity surveys, especially if they have concerns about their privacy or the use of the data collected. It is important to encourage open communication and communicate the benefits of the survey transparently to gain the trust of employees.

    Lack of willingness to participate

    One of the biggest challenges is often achieving a sufficiently high willingness to participate. This can be due to various factors, including lack of time, mistrust of the purpose of the survey, or fear of negative consequences. It is important to keep participation voluntary.

    Cultural sensitivity

    For multinational companies, cultural differences and sensitivities must be taken into account to ensure that the diversity survey is relevant and acceptable to all employees. It is important to design the survey in such a way that it reflects the diversity of the workforce and does not exclude or discriminate against any particular groups.

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    Why should leaders support diversity and inclusion?

    It is crucial that leaders and the management team are fully committed to diversity and inclusion. Leadership commitment sends a clear message to the entire organisation and encourages employees to support diversity and inclusion as well.

    Leaders play a critical role in shaping diversity and inclusion policies and programs. If the management team does not prioritise these issues or does not have the necessary expertise, efforts can fall flat.

    Therefore, it is important that managers not only have an awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion, but also actively work to promote these values. This can mean, for example, providing training, setting and pursuing clear goals, and creating an inclusive work environment where diversity is encouraged and valued.

    Further reading: What influence do managers have on overall employee engagement? In this e-book, we explain the driver “leadership”, among other crucial factors that impact engagement in the workplace.

    Implementation tips from Netigate Consulting

    When implementing a diversity survey, a guideline for internal communication and interaction is crucial. Clear guidelines promote respectful behavior in the workplace. A plan for processing the results is also important: communicate results internally with sensitivity and ensure confidentiality.

    It is also important not only to collect the data gathered, but to act accordingly. This can include new guidelines or training. Overall, implementation should be considered as part of a comprehensive approach that promotes diversity and inclusion throughout the organisation.

    Our Netigate Consulting team will also be happy to work with you to create your individual questionnaire for the diversity survey. Simply try out our survey tool free of charge, or book a demo with us (includes feedback consultation).

    Trial version of the diversity questionnaire

    Take a look at this trial version and get a first impression of the survey and our survey tool.

    Conclusion: Diversity questionnaires are crucial today

    In conclusion, a diversity questionnaire is crucial for companies to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The insights gained make it possible to take targeted measures and bring about long-term changes in the corporate culture.

    While challenges such as privacy concerns and unwillingness to participate must be considered, it is most important that leaders and the management team actively support diversity and inclusion. Only through a holistic approach that sets clear goals and communicates and implements the results of the surveys sensitively can companies create an inclusive working environment in which diversity is seen as a strength.