Measurement is the first step to taking action.

Strategic and effective progress towards a more inclusive workplace is informed by data – both quantitative and qualitative.

Understanding your employees’ perceptions of their experiences at your organization – their sense of belonging and inclusion – is one of the key indicators you want to look at when taking the pulse on inclusion in your workplace. But what if you haven’t been tracking this information?

You might be surprised to hear that you’ve likely already been collecting data that you could use to better understand diversity and inclusion in your workplace.

One of the easiest ways to start is by leveraging the information from your employee engagement survey. Measurement is the first step to taking action, so analyzing data from existing surveys can help paint a picture of where your organization is on its inclusion journey, where the priorities of focus should be, and what are some possible next steps.

What is inclusion and how do you measure it?

According to the Centre for Global Inclusion, which sets the standards for organizations around the world, inclusion is “a dynamic state of operating in which diversity is leveraged to create a fair, healthy, and high-performing organization or community”. It “ensures equitable access to resources and opportunities for all”, and “enables individuals and groups to feel safe, respected, engaged, motivated and valued.”

Typical employee engagement surveys often ask questions that could help you assess your employees’ sense of inclusion – how they perceive their experiences at your organization. You can analyze your answers though the lens of the Deloitte Inclusion Maturity Model. This model identifies two different levels of inclusion, each with its own characteristics:

Level 1: Fairness and Respect

  • Equity: Equitable access to opportunities
  • Non-Discrimination: Not being discriminated against

Level 2: Value and Belonging

  • Uniqueness: Feeling valued for your uniqueness
  • Decision Making: Feeling like one’s ideas are valued
  • Connectedness: A sense of belonging and feeling connected to the group

Using existing data to measure inclusion

Oftentimes, many of the commonly asked questions in an employee engagement survey can be mapped onto the feelings of inclusion. HR practitioners can leverage data from existing survey results to build their own inclusion index and better understand the experience of their employees in the workplace.

There are four easy steps to building out an inclusion index:

Step 1: Look at your existing Employee Engagement Survey. 

Go through your existing survey questions and identify the questions that most relate to how people are feeling about fairness, respect, value and belonging.

For example, questions or statements that can help recognize feelings of fairness and respect might include:

  • I have witnessed or experienced harassment or bullying at work in the last six months
  • I believe that the promotion and advancement processes here are fair for everyone
  • My department values and promotes an environment that is respectful for everyone
  • I feel respected by those I report to
  • In relation to my colleagues, I am fairly compensated for my work

Questions or statements that can help recognize value and belonging might include:

  • I am proud to be a member of my team / this organization
  • Overall, I am satisfied with how I interact with and feel about my co-workers
  • I often put in extra effort because I feel like I am an important member of the team
  • We often benefit from good ideas suggested by my colleagues who have worked outside of Canada
  • My ideas and suggestions are welcomed here
  • My team is accepting of different perspectives, ideas and working styles

Step 2: Cut down your questions until you have between 5 and 8.

Choose questions that are the best indicators of how your employees feel. This exercise may also help you identify any questions that weren’t asked and allow you to come up with new questions for future surveys that will give you more data. For example, if you realized that you didn’t ask a lot of questions around belonging, perhaps you’ll add them next time.

Step 3: Build your index.

Go through the survey and copy and paste the questions you’ve identified into a chart, like the example below. Put each question under its corresponding category (i.e. Fairness and Respect and Value and Belonging).

Next, go through your survey and pull in the quantitative data around the answers to these questions. If your survey asked demographic questions, be sure to analyze the results through that lens to understand the experience of different groups in your workplace.

Below is a hypothetical example of an inclusion index:

A chart depicting the percentage of employees that agree with various statements, such as, "I feel respected by those I report to"

Step 4: Once you’ve created your index, you’ll quickly be able to identify any gaps and prioritize areas that need improvement.

As you’ll see in the above example, in this hypothetical organization, only 48% of staff agree that promotion and advancement processes are fair for everyone. In this case, the organization might want to identify this as a gap and make it a priority to improve processes around this area.

A word of caution

Numbers can only take you so far. Be sure to also look through employees’ comments to see if there are any patterns. This will help to provide insight that quantitative data cannot.

Unless you asked demographic questions and you have results for different groups in your workplace, your inclusion index will only show you the average response. This masks profoundly different experiences that different groups in your workplace have. Be mindful of that limitation.

Over time, you’ll be able to improve your survey and use it to look at the effectiveness of your various initiatives and the changes you’ve made. By looking at the results of the same questions year after year, you’ll be able to better understand if you are making progress.


Starting to assess inclusion in your workplace doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, many organizations already have the data needed to take a pulse and assess where they’re at. By leveraging your employee engagement survey to measure feelings of inclusion and identify the areas for taking action on, not only will you be able to be more strategic with your efforts, but you’ll also be able to build trust with your employees. When employees feel that their voices are being heard and their feedback is being used to effectively improve workplace culture, they will not only feel included, but also happy, engaged and more motivated.

To learn more about measuring inclusion in your workplace, check out TRIEC’s Inclusion Measurement Blueprint.