In this report, we have provided information that can be used to foster employee understanding of the importance of demographic information and its critical role in understanding barriers and inequities and ensuring a level playing field for all employee groups.
Information collected through the self-identification process is a critical input to help identify and break down barriers to engagement and equity.
In this deck, we have provided information that can be used to foster employee understanding of the importance of demographic information and its critical role in understanding barriers and inequities and ensuring a level playing field for all employee groups.
Information collected through the self-identification process is a critical input to help identify and break down barriers to engagement and equity. Women, people of color, and other underrepresented employee groups still face barriers ingrained in outdated policies, unconscious bias, and a non-inclusive culture. These barriers aren’t always obvious or intentional; many are systemic and unconscious.
You will not be able to evaluate progress against your D&I goals—or understand obstacles that need to be addressed to achieve equity and inclusion for underrepresented groups—if employees are reluctant to self identify.
Self-identification helps enable organizations
– Facilitate dialogue at all levels around diversity goals
– Create programs that support diverse employees
– Provide resources to support underrepresented groups
– Evaluate the equity of their policies and procedures (promotions, professional development, mentorship, compensation, hiring, and performance management)
– Measure the success of their diversity and inclusion initiatives
– Measure employee engagement
– Identify challenges that underrepresented groups face and work to mitigate bias
Tips for an Effective Process
Employee demographic data can help companies identify, prevent, and remove barriers to access and opportunity.
Share how the organization will use that information to set and measure its D&I goals.
Create a climate of trust and transparency, and clearly communicate the importance of self- identification data.
Engage ERGs – they can provide input and feedback on self-identification methods, tools, and terminology. They can also be a conduit to connecting with employee groups and encouraging them to self-identify.
Share how the organization will use that information to set and measure its D&I goals.
When asking employees to self-identify, employers should proactively communicate the purpose for the
request and emphasize the confidentiality of the responses to help mitigate the discomfort or isolation
that diverse employees may feel.
Explain federal reporting requirements for collecting employee demographic information and share why
the information is so important: at the federal level and for the success of the company.
Confidentiality and privacy safeguards need to be explained, including who has access to the information
and for what purposes.
When employees provide self-identification information, it provides employers an opportunity to identify
where systematic barriers and inequities may exist within policies and processes, and pinpoint areas that
For example, for employees with disabilities, self-identification can help get accommodations to help
enhance work performance. Many disabilities are not visible, and communication may help them get
additional support or adaptations to help them perform better.
Although employers are not required to collect data on their LGBTQ workforce, those that do can
leverage data to help the organization implement initiatives related to promotions, inclusion, benefits,
hiring and retention, and measure the success of their efforts.
Employee engagement surveys are a standard business tool. However, these surveys can do much more
than just gauge how tuned in employees are when the results are segmented and analyzed deeply.
The first step is assessing the data by demographic group. Note how responses vary by race, gender,
generation, etc. For instance, how are the views of your LGBTQ, Baby Boomer, and Millennial employees
the same? Where do they differ?
But segmenting by demographic group as a whole is not enough. The truly telling findings come when
you dive further into the data and assess patterns and correlations between responses. Examples to
• Similarities may exist between LGBTQ employees and people with disabilities (especially those with
invisible disabilities) and how they rate their level of security/safety at work
• Instead of lumping all people of color or all underrepresented groups together, compare the responses
of the various subgroups represented within these categories. How do the responses from your Black
employees differ from those of your Latino or Asian employees? And going even further, tease out
areas of intersectionality. Are Black women more or less engaged than Black men?
• It is also important to assess any patterns by lines of business or region. For example, are women
advancing at a significantly lower rate in one region over another?
Engagement surveys gather critical input and feedback on diversity initiatives
• Surveys provide opportunities for employees to share views related to the company’s strengths and areas for improvement
• The information can be sorted by business unit or demographic category and used to help companies understand factors that drive or inhibit engagement
• The data can also be used to compare performance and engagement of individual departments and business units, and to benchmark how the company stacks up with other companies in the industry
Participation – Getting employees to participate across all business units and demographic groups is critical. Foster competition and offer incentives to get employees interested and involved.
Metrics – Get employee input to survey questions and design. Ensure the questions are asked in ways that are relevant, appropriate, and support measurement and comparison over time.
Confidentiality – If employees think they will be personally identified by their responses, they will be less likely to provide honest feedback. Explain how privacy will be protected and assure employees they can share information and concerns openly, without fear of retribution.
To ensure greater participation in engagement surveys you want to
• Ensure the questions are asked in ways that are culturally relevant and appropriate, and support measurement and comparison over time.
• Explain how privacy will be protected. Assure employees they can share information and concerns openly, without fear of retribution. If employees think they will be personally identified by their responses, they will be less likely to provide honest feedback.
• Encourage employees to participate across all business units and demographic groups. Create “engagement survey champions” across the organization to advocate and encourage participation. ERGs can play a key role in this regard.
• Share results in a way that builds transparency, reinforces principles of confidentiality, and allows employees to follow actions that are based on results.
• Take action on the results to build employee confidence in the process and demonstrate that their feedback is valued.
Share Results – Employees invest time and thought when they participate in an engagement survey. They are interested in the results. Sharing survey results builds transparency, reinforces principles of confidentiality, and allows employees to follow actions that are based on results.
Take Action – If employees don’t see the company acting on issues identified in surveys, they are less likely to take the time to participate in future efforts. Start by focusing on the ‘low hanging fruit.’ Fixing problems identified through the survey process builds employee confidence in the process and demonstrates their feedback is valued.
Before, during, and throughout employee demographic data collection, companies need to ask:
• What was our plan for the data before it was collected?
• Did the plan change after the data became available?
• What actions have been taken?
• What changes have been made based on the self-identification data?
• How will we measure the impact of those changes?
• What are the next steps for self- identification?
ADP follows these practices to encourage self-identification:
• Utilize employee engagement surveys and communicate the definition of each diversity pillar you are seeking
• Promote diversity, equity and inclusion within your organization and include the message on employee engagement or stay surveys
• Provide multiple anonymous avenues for employees to disclose their diversity identity
• Communicate the benefits of self-identification and how it links to the company’s overall commitment to diversity and inclusion. Share examples of how the information can impact access to resources and benefits
• Integrate diversity training for all employees throughout the employee life cycle, including onboarding
• Implement employee resources to highlight diversity (Employee/Business Resource Groups, mentoring, sponsorship, community outreach and professional development)
• Stress data confidentiality and communicate who will have access
• Empower leaders to champion and communicate the organization’s diversity and inclusion objectives
• Utilize Employee/Business Resource Groups to encourage respondents to self-identify
Remember: Employee self-identification is less about getting employees to check a box and more about creating a work environment where employees openly share information, are valued for their diversity and differing perspectives, and are provided equitable opportunities for development and advancement.