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How to build a corporate diversity report

In May 2020, Twitter released its corporate diversity report titled “You Belong Here,” which emphasized the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility. Within the report, the company showcased their efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workspace for all of its employees. 

The report represented a powerful and bold way for an employer to show its employees—and the world—its strong commitment to diversity and to making sure every employee feels a sense of belonging.

Twitter is among the scores of well-known companies and organizations across the full range of industries that have taken the step of highlighting their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in a detailed report.

But you don’t have to be a major tech company or a household brand to develop and deliver an impactful diversity report. Organizations of any size or focus can benefit by capturing key data and insights regarding diversity and then supporting and affirming those efforts by sharing them in a report that can be read by employees, customers, the general public, and media.  

A diversity report is a document that details a company’s efforts towards DEI. Diversity reports highlight the DEI areas that are going well in your company and map out the areas that could use improvement. It’s a way for companies to hold themselves accountable for creating and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Ultimately, your diversity report is a reflection of the reality that exists within your company. With that in mind, what is contained within that report should align with what your employees are saying and thinking about your company.

Corporate diversity reports are not just for companies that excel at diversity and inclusion. By all means, if you’re achieving your goals when it comes to DEI, you should let the world know about it. But for companies that are in an earlier phase of their diversity journey, creating a report demonstrates your commitment to the issue of diversity and lends credibility to the effort by making public your progress toward ongoing improvements.

Your diversity report—along with an actionable plan to execute—sends the message to employees and potential applicants that your company recognizes its need to improve in some areas. And this report is a way of holding your company accountable. Ultimately, this builds trust between your company and consumers, employees, and candidates.

A diversity report is typically composed of data and insights from and about your employees. We’ll take a deep dive into the types of data and feedback to gather for the report and the best way to capture that information. But first, let’s look at the key elements that make up a diversity report.

Building a diversity report is a process that begins long before the actual writing. The first phase is to conduct research and compile data that will provide insights and metrics to include in your report.

Surveys serve as an excellent tool for capturing how your employees are thinking and feeling about DEI at your organization. Making these surveys anonymous can help assure that you will get honest and candid feedback. SurveyMonkey offers free templates that allow you to create your own DEI surveys. The types of surveys you can use include:

After you capture the results from your surveys, you can then analyze this data to break down responses by race, gender, and other differentiating factors to do a closer examination of how different segments of your audience view diversity at your organization. Further analyzing these demographics by job category can provide metrics on how much employees within the same categories are compensated and their path to promotion or termination.

You can then expand the demographics to include gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, veteran status, family status, and educational attainment.

When crafting your survey questions, try to focus on questions specific to diversity and inclusion. You can then use a Likert scale, which is a 5-, 7-, or 9-point scale used to measure how respondents agree or disagree with your questions and statements. Examples of these responses can range from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Some examples include:

  • I feel like I belong at my company
  • My company believes that people can always greatly improve their talents and abilities
  • Promotion decisions are fair at my company

After compiling your data, you can start building your actual report. While each report is unique and customized based on the organization, there are some best practices that are essential to any good report, including:

A relevant theme/title: The theme of your report should align with where you are in your diversity journey as well as your aspirations for ongoing improvement. For instance, Facebook’s report is titled, “Advancing Opportunity for All.”

Other companies have gone with a more straightforward title and a more in-depth subtitle. For instance, Google simply titled their report: “Google Diversity Annual Report 2020.” And that is followed by the more descriptive subtitle: “We’re advancing a diverse, accessible, and inclusive Google where everyone feels like they belong. Check out our progress.”

A letter to readers: Often reports begin with a brief letter to readers that serves to summarize the organization’s efforts and to highlight actions aimed at ongoing improvement. This letter is often penned by a chief diversity officer or the CEO of the organization.

Charts and graphs: Data is the driving force behind a strong corporate diversity report, and that data is more easily digested when it is conveyed through a simple visual.

Articles and captions: Supporting content can help explain results and provide greater context for readers.

Photos and images: Photos can help bring your report to life, adding a human element to accompany the data about your diversity efforts.

Your action plan: Most well-constructed reports not only provide a snapshot of the current state of DEI, but also outline some detailed action items aimed at continuous improvement.

Now that you have a good idea of the data and feedback you are looking for and the basic elements of a corporate diversity report, let’s take a more in-depth look at what you need in order to provide a robust picture of diversity at your organization.

Focusing on demographic data—such as age, disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender, family status, gender identity or expression, language, generation, life experiences, organization function and level, personality type, physical characteristics, race, religion, belief, spirituality, sexual orientation, and thinking/learning style—is a good start. However, you need to expand those dimensions if you truly want to know how diverse and inclusive your company is.

SurveyMonkey’s employee engagement survey template is a great tool to use to obtain voluntary self-identification information which you can use as a baseline for employee demographics.

You can also look at your workforce by race and gender and examine these demographics by job groups.

Recruitment by gender: During hiring and selection processes, how many of those recruited identify as men, women, genderqueer/non-binary, or agender? And from that information, do you see areas where one gender is higher in concentration than others?

For example, are your entry-level positions diverse in genders, but your senior-level positions are mainly filled with men? If this is the case, then you may want to consider implementing a gender initiative that will encourage and empower more individuals of different gender identities to apply for higher positions.

Recruitment by race/ethnicity: As with gender, looking at your recruitment pool and breaking it down by race and ethnicity could indicate whether you need to be more diverse in your hiring or if you are on the right track based on your goals.

Attrition by gender: Looking at the individuals that leave your company can help you identify if members of a particular group are leaving at higher rates than those of other groups. For instance, if you notice that more women are leaving than other genders, that could be an indication that the women in your company do not feel included. If this is the case, then you may want to consider implementing a women’s inclusivity initiative.

Attrition by race/ethnicity: As with attrition by gender, this focuses on tracking the race and ethnicity of those leaving your organization to determine if there are any troubling or positive trends emerging. For instance, if you do find a mass exodus of individuals of a specific ethnicity, it can be a clear sign that you have a problem and should take action to address it. 

Organization breakdown by gender: Do you see different genders on every level of your corporate ladder? Or is one gender more concentrated in one level than others? If so, this could send the wrong message to your employees that only X gender can fill these positions.

Organization breakdown by race/ethnicity: If you notice that entry and mid-level positions are highly diverse, but senior-level positions are not, this could suggest that you need to find a way to provide more opportunities for other groups.

Sound data and clear metrics are critical to providing an honest and fact-based diversity report. Yet, there is relevant information that goes beyond the data. Some key additions include:

History: Including the history of your company, and more specifically the story of your diversity journey, can help showcase the progress you have made through the years and allows you to frame your aspirations for the future.

Vision, mission and strategy: Including your vision, mission, and strategy as they relate to diversity allows you to demonstrate how important diversity is to your organization, how it relates to your mission, and the strategy you are employing to drive continuous improvement.

Awards and honors: Recognition from organizations focused on diversity can help validate your efforts and position your organization as a leader in fostering and improving DEI. If your company has received any diversity-related awards and honors, showcase them.

Partnerships: Highlight any key partnerships with organizations in your community or industry aimed at driving greater diversity and awareness about its benefits. This demonstrates your commitment to the cause and your willingness to work with others to advance it even further.  

Employee voices: Authentic testimonials from employees can be a powerful way to highlight your efforts and progress. Of course, make sure that any employee you include is eager to share their insights and agrees to have their name and picture included in the report.  

Creating a diversity report can ensure that DEI remains top of mind in your organization, allow you to highlight progress, and help you identify challenges along with the strategies needed to address them. Perhaps most importantly, it delivers a clear and concrete message to your employees, candidates, customers, and the broader public that you care about creating a workplace that is diverse and inclusive.

SurveyMonkey is part of Momentive, maker of AI-driven insights and experience management solutions built for the pace of modern business. Learn how to shape a stronger, more equitable workplace with Momentive Workplace Equity IQ.

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