In our latest diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) masterclass roundtable series, we asked a group of 26 global employers what data do you collect for DEI purposes, and what has been your biggest learning.

In today’s virtual world, we used a listening platform called Remesh, which enables digital focus groups in a live chat-room experience. We asked a series of open and closed questions through the platform – accessible on any smart device or computer. While our masterclass sessions are, by design, a smaller audience, in practice up to 1,000 employees can join at any time and responses are anonymous, so this is a powerful listening tool. 


The first question we asked was:

At what stage would you say your organization is at right now, when it comes to your DEI agenda?

 Under half (46%) replied they have an established or well-established agenda. In contrast, 54% reported they were in the early or very early stages of progress on their DEI agenda. 


We then asked participants what type of diversity data does your organization collect and how does your organization use the data:

  • 100% of the participants reported that their organization collected data on Gender
  • 88% of the participants collects data on Age
  • Only 46% collect data on race and ethnicity
  • Only 39% collect data on language
  • 75% of the participants report using the data to help with DEI reporting, internal KPI setting and monitoring, using the data to conduct workforce analysis and correlate with benchmark data. 

Gender is still the predominant data point followed closely by age ─ but it’s clear that more organizations are beginning to find ways to collect race and ethnicity data too. None of our sample collect data on sexual orientation, and so it will be difficult to ‘hear’ this voice until things change.

The final question asked was open:

What has been your organization’s biggest learning so far when it comes to supporting diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

The groups most voted on answer was: We need to not only look at leadership expectations but also what our employees want. Often it is not just about targets but about conversations, awareness, having a voice and making sure it is heard.

In our experience, employee listening is crucial and this group agreed. Listening enables organizations to:

  • Understand the strengths and opportunities of the current culture as well new insights by different diverse employee segments    
  • Inform DEI strategy in a data-driven way through feedback on DEI initiatives and crowdsourcing of ideas

Obtaining information on organizational diversity can be very difficult, especially in areas of the world, where companies experience limitations in gathering data due to cultural considerations, privacy laws and potential discrimination claims. However, employee listening tools such as Remesh provide deep qualitative insights and, at the same time, provide the ability to slice data by demographics collected in the listening session. Employees will provide key demographic data when they log on which can include gender, age, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation and other information you might not otherwise have access to. Providing a confidential forum for employees to be heard is the first step to understanding what they need, then constructing a fully inclusive workplace based on these actual needs.


At Mercer, we take a holistic approach to DEI data collection and analysis:


We believe that DEI is deeply rooted in the employee experience and employee listening is key to better understanding how employees experience the culture at your organization. Contact us if these issues are important to you.

Lucye Provera
Lucye Provera

Principal, International Diversity Equity and Inclusion

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