Diversity and Inclusion

30 Powerful Questions for Your Next DEIB Survey, Plus 7 Tips

February 16, 2024
February 16, 2024
Lyssa Test and Pratika Mallampalli
Lattice Team

Inclusion is many things, but at its core is the feeling of being heard, recognized, and valued. However, only one in four employees strongly believe that their opinions matter at work, according to Gallup research.

The way around that is to listen to your team members and check in on how your employees feel about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) at your company. That’s where DEIB surveys come in.

Whether you’re launching a DEIB survey for the first time or looking for tips to improve your existing survey strategy, here are 30 examples of survey questions to consider including, along with seven tips to ensure you can create meaningful change at your company.

What is a DEIB survey?

A DEIB survey is a tool companies use to collect data and insights on the experiences, perceptions, and sentiments of diverse groups within their organizations. It aims to uncover blind spots in DEIB efforts, assess strengths and areas for improvement, and identify issues that need further investigation (such as unconscious bias).

30 Examples of DEIB Survey Questions

The following list includes DEIB survey questions meant to work with a Likert scale. Likert-scale questions are posed as statements to which employees respond by selecting options on a scale ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." Respondents can also add comments to provide context to their selection.

Here’s what that looks like with Lattice:

A Likert-style question as it appears on Lattice, with the statement “The expectations of your role are clear” at the top, a list of five agreement options (strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree), and a space for participants to expand on their answer.
Lattice supports the use of Likert-scale questionnaires with space for subjective elaboration.

Diversity Survey Questions:

  1. I have enough colleagues in my work environment who have similar backgrounds, identities, cultures, and beliefs.
  2. I believe that diversity is valued and respected in the organization.
  3. I trust the company’s leadership to take a stand on diversity, equity, and inclusion outside of the workplace.
  4. I would encourage someone of a similar background, culture, disability, or gender identity to work at the company.
  5. This company is demographically diverse.

Equity Survey Questions:

  1. I have experienced favoritism in the workplace. 
  2. I have witnessed favoritism in the workplace.
  3. Employees from different groups are rewarded and recognized fairly for their contributions to the company’s strategic objectives.

Inclusion Survey Questions:

  1. This company is an inclusive workplace.
  2. I feel comfortable sharing my views, thoughts, and ideas, even if they differ from others’ opinions. 
  3. I have access to all the support and tools I need to succeed at work.
  4. My manager supports my involvement in employee resource groups (ERGs) and DEIB activities.

Belonging Survey Questions:

  1. I bring my authentic self to work without needing to mask certain aspects of my background and identity.
  2. My manager, coworkers, and the overall team provide me with a supportive and safe space to learn and make mistakes.
  3. I have felt left out of or pressured at team-building activities and social gatherings organized by the company, manager, or other teammates.
  4. I feel a sense of belonging within my team and the larger organization.

DEIB Policy Awareness Questions:

  1. This company is clear about its DEIB efforts and policy.
  2. I find it easy to access important information regarding DEIB policies, activities, and opportunities. 
  3. I am aware of what the DEIB task force is currently working on.
  4. I have directly benefited from one or more DEIB initiatives or policies.
  5. This organization takes employee feedback into account while developing DEIB policies.

Employee Growth and Development Questions:

  1. This company provides opportunities for all to develop within their careers.
  2. Individuals from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply for higher positions.
  3. I feel that my performance is not fairly evaluated during performance reviews and assessments because of my identity.
  4. I find it easy to access and participate in this company’s DEIB-focused mentoring and sponsorship programs.

Discrimination in the Workplace Questions:

  1. This company hires individuals from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.
  2. I feel comfortable discussing inclusivity issues with my manager and coworkers.
  3. I have witnessed microaggressions, harassment, or discriminatory behavior toward people of marginalized identities in my team. 
  4. I have been on the receiving end of microaggressions, harassment, or discriminatory behavior on account of my identity.
  5. I am aware of the steps to take when witnessing or experiencing bias or unfair treatment at work.

Why DEIB Surveys Are Important

While putting together Lattice’s 2024 State of People Strategy Report, we discovered some troubling data: DEIB programs have dropped significantly on HR priority lists — while 30% of HR leaders in 2022 said DEIB was a top priority, only 17% said it in 2023.

Yet, the importance employees attach to DEIB hasn’t waned. According to 2023 research from Benevity Impact Labs, a whopping 95% of employees factor in a prospective employer’s DEI initiatives while comparing job offers with similar salaries and benefits.

“While HR leaders may be tempted to move DEIB down the priority list, the talent they are seeking to attract and maintain are keeping it front and center in their expectations,” Regina Ross, chief people officer at Khan Academy, told us.

Taking note of what matters to employees is always important. But during periods of uncertainty, it's especially crucial that companies listen to their employees and build policies and initiatives that respond effectively to their needs.

Here’s where DEIB surveys fit in.

They give your employees a voice.

Gallup recommends getting input from as many employees as possible on initiatives and key decisions, as including the “employee voice” is proven to generate buy-in for and ownership of change and outcomes. When you ask employees their opinions, they feel heard.

According to a 2023 belonging survey by Ernst and Young, 56% of workers are reluctant to share aspects of their identity at work. Conducting anonymous DEIB and engagement surveys to collect employee feedback and input for decision-making can help change that.

“[Conducting surveys and acting on the data] helps staff feel more comfortable opening up,” said Natania Malin Gazek, a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) consultant. “With multiple clients, during or after a DEIB survey cycle, I've had staff come to me to share very concerning experiences they've had at work that they'd never shared with anyone before.”

They create tangible change.

Acting on the data you get from DEIB surveys can lead to meaningful, highly appreciated inclusion initiatives.

For instance, tech startup Springboard saw a transformation in its employees’ experiences of equity by implementing what it learned from a DEIB assessment through Peoplism. Previously, only 66% of Springboard’s workforce reported feeling that their performance review process was fair and objective, but that number increased to 85% after the company acted on survey data. 

They improve company culture.

DEIB success is a strong metric in measuring company culture. DEIB surveys give you a way to quantify and track your progress toward your company’s DEIB goals. Most importantly, they provide actionable insights you can use to improve your workplace culture and, consequently, employee experience.

McKinsey research shows that individuals who report a positive employee experience demonstrate an employee engagement level 16 times higher than those who report a negative experience. Additionally, they are eight times more inclined to remain with their current company — implying good things for employee retention.

7 Tips for Conducting a DEIB Survey

1. Ask the right questions.

To get the most out of your questionnaire, you need to ask the right questions.

Likert-scale questions are easy for your employees to answer, and the data you get is straightforward to analyze. For each query, you can give employees the space to elaborate on their responses and share their experiences and observations. These specific details, along with the high-level statistical overview from Likert-scale responses, offer deep and nuanced insights. 

Here are a few examples of Likert-scale DEIB survey questions to get you started:

  • I feel empowered to make decisions at work.
  • I feel like I belong at [Company Name].
  • There are leaders in the organization that I can relate to.
  • Our senior leadership team represents the diverse makeup of our organization.

Every question on your survey should have a clear, specific purpose, according to Ash Schwedt, an equity and inclusion consultant and trainer, and an ALICE@Work course instructor with United Way of Northern New Jersey. “Only ask questions you can do something about. When designing your survey, for each question, ask [yourself], ‘What will I do with this information?’” advised Schwedt. “If the answer is ‘nothing,’ it isn't a good question to ask. The responses should drive business strategy by highlighting current gaps and helping the leadership team determine where to focus resources.”

If you’re still not sure what to ask, consider looking internally for inspiration. “Open a portal where folks can anonymously contribute questions that they'd like to see on the survey,” recommended Kristen Liesch, PhD, cofounder and co-CEO of Tidal Equality, a strategy firm helping businesses fight internal inequality. “Chances are, there are things people want to bring to the attention of the organization, and they know what kinds of questions need to be asked to get at the insights necessary to make an equitable and inclusive change. 

“A big mistake we see when it comes to surveys is when the questions asked just touch the surface, and don't really get under the hood of equity, diversity, and inclusion challenges,” Liesch continued. “That’s a surefire recipe for reduced participation and increased resistance down the road.”

2. Have a survey launch plan.

Building the survey is only half the battle. Now, you need to convince your employees to take the time to share their thoughts and experiences. 

The secret to boosting survey participation? Reminding employees why these questionnaires matter. “Transparency is key when creating and communicating surveys,” said Rachel Pierce, chief people officer at Dream.org. “HR teams should clearly present what the survey is for, why it is important, how the results will be used, and how the findings will be presented prior to asking employees to complete them. Communicating clearly will assist with engagement, interest, and trust.”

When your survey is ready to launch, send out an email from your HR team, CEO, or another C-level executive to communicate the following points:

  • Announce the survey is live.
  • Share why/how it’s vital to your overall DEIB strategy.
  • Remind employees all feedback is anonymous.
  • Specify when the survey will close and when your team will share results. 

Follow up on survey participation rates and encourage employees to take the survey in company all-hands meetings and via email or your company’s internal messaging system. You should also partner with managers to have them remind their direct reports about the survey in team meetings and one-on-ones. 

3. Create a data-driven action plan.

Armed with your data and survey analysis, now you need to build an action plan to incorporate your learnings into your DEIB strategy. This is one of the most crucial steps of running a DEIB survey because it’s your “so what” factor — and how you drive change within your organization and take steps today to build a better workplace tomorrow. 

Unfortunately, this is the part where many businesses fail. They administer the survey, amass findings, and then fail to create a meaningful, forward-thinking action plan to act on opportunities revealed in the survey. “The biggest and most egregious mistake I see companies make is doing nothing with survey results,” said Cenina Saxton, EdD, director of talent and culture at Focus Brands. “This leaves employees feeling as if DEIB is not important to the organization and the survey was simply an item on the HR checklist.” 

An action plan shows employees you’re listening to their needs, acting on their feedback, and investing in diversity and inclusion efforts at your organization. 

4. Get executive buy-in.

According to Lattice’s 2024 State of People Strategy Report, only 69% of HR professionals are confident or very confident in demonstrating their impact to stakeholders. But numbers talk. Change starts from the top down, so once your survey closes, take the time to analyze your results and pull meaningful insights for your executive team. Walk them through a detailed overview of your findings, complete with the added context of benchmark or past survey data for comparison. Then, present your proposed action plan to obtain buy-in from your C-suite

“Surveys provide tangible data that can support what the needs, feelings, and ideas of team members truly are,” noted Pierce. “Instead of relying on HR teams to create programs, policies, and initiatives from their own perspectives, executives can lean on survey results to present true evidence for where the organization should start and how.” 

5. Share findings with employees.

Next, you’ll need to share your analysis and action plan with your employees. Often, people teams or a CEO will present survey results during an all-company meeting, so they can walk employees through the findings and add context. These presentations should include an overview of participation rates, survey scores, organizational strengths, opportunities for growth, key findings, and historical or benchmark comparisons. You should end the meeting by reviewing your detailed action plan, showing employees exactly what your business will be doing to address any issues raised by the survey.

6. Follow up on progress.

Unfortunately, some companies take action in the wake of their survey’s completion but fail to maintain that momentum or keep employees updated on progress. “Failing to follow through with needed actions that the survey results present will set your organization back and send a very loud message to employees,” cautioned Pierce. “Actions are what determine whether a business is performative or not and, ultimately, tell a story to your employees on the value and importance of their voice.”

Regularly updating your workforce on the steps you’ve taken or are taking to improve DEIB can demonstrate your lasting commitment to improving the employee experience at your company. This can inspire trust and help ensure employees are more forthcoming on future surveys. 

7. Repeat.

DEIB surveys should not be approached as a one-time solution; they need to be part of your ongoing DEIB program. Continue to administer DEIB surveys every six months, or as needed by your organization, while being mindful of survey fatigue. 

“Anytime your employee base changes, it is important to re-measure. Anytime a change happens, it is important to re-measure,” stressed Schwedt. “Twice a year is usually a good cadence for any kind of employee survey. But again, make sure to remind folks why you're surveying them and why you've chosen the cadence you have.” 

This can help you measure the effectiveness of new initiatives, get closer to your DEIB goals, and prove DEIB is top of mind for your HR team and organization — but only when done right. Regularly follow up on progress and ensure your team is taking action to build trust with employees and make data-driven decisions about DEIB at your organization. 

Leveling Up Your DEIB Surveys With Lattice

Surveys are an essential piece of an organization’s overall DEIB strategy. While they help reveal unfairness and representation gaps within your business, it’s crucial to remember that administering a survey doesn’t automatically bring about change in your work environment. Identifying issues is meaningless until you take action to fix them.

Want to use DEIB surveys for your organization? Lattice makes online survey creation, administration, and analysis simple, letting you focus on taking meaningful, measured action to improve life at your company. Plus, with Lattice’s comprehensive DEIB analytics dashboard, you can:

  • Quickly understand the demographic breakdown of employees across your organization.
  • Learn if your performance programs and internal mobility processes are being implemented and executed equitably.
  • Identify and act on workplace inequities and other DEIB concerns quickly.

Create an inclusive environment where every voice is heard and valued. Schedule a product demo today.