The Diversity Disaster Waiting to Happen...

Why Outdated EDI Survey Questions Can Destroy Your Inclusion Efforts

8th May 2024 by Mark Holt

child reading a bible

Imagine investing your precious time and money into a diversity and inclusion survey only to have your employees feel offended, frustrated, or even traumatized by the questions themselves. This nightmare scenario is all too real for organizations that fail to keep pace with the rapidly evolving language and nuances of the D&I space.

At Divrsity, not only do we understand the importance of staying ahead of the curve, but we are also uniquely placed to learn from thousands of surveys to ensure that our 56 template questions are constantly updated to reflect the changing landscape of diversity and inclusion.

All our questions are completely customisable to reflect the nuance of the individual workplace, but it's so much better to start with a set that have been "battle tested", rather than going it alone with something downloaded from the Internet.

You can view all the latest diversity and inclusion questions.

The Importance of Evolving Template Questions

When we first set-up Divrsity, we put together a panel of 5 experts in Diversity & Inclusion. We ran a series of workshops where the panel were asked to come up with a list of questions that would help organisations create data-driven insights into workplace Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, Bias and Belonging.

The best laid plans...

We were very excited to put these questions to the test, and then... disaster... the clustering we'd used for sexuality caused one of the participants to question the credibility of the survey; leading to the the whole of the company's LGBTQI+ ERG boycotting the survey.

This was a first-hand example of the critical importance of getting the right diversity and inclusion questions. We saw immediately the devastating consequences of outdated or insensitive survey questions, including:

  • Alienating employees from marginalized groups: Questions that assume a respondent's gender, race, or ability status can be harmful and exclude those who do not fit into traditional categories
  • Fostering a culture of mistrust and skepticism
  • And most importantly, undermining the credibility of D&I initiatives leading to
  • Wasting valuable resources on ineffective programs

At Divrsity, we love being able to constantly evolve our template diversity and inclusion questions to reflect the shifting language and nuances of the diversity and inclusion space. This ensures that our surveys are not only effective in measuring employee sentiment, but also respectful of their experiences and perspectives.

Following the disaster with version 1.0, our questions are now at veersion 5.10 ! Providing an indication of just how much specialist expertience has gone in.

The Changing Landscape of Diversity and Inclusion Language

In recent years, the language used to discuss diversity and inclusion has undergone significant transformations. Here are a few examples:

  • From "Race" to "Racial Identity": The term "race" has been criticized for its association with outdated and harmful concepts like racial hierarchy and biological determinism. In response, many organizations have shifted to using the term "racial identity," which acknowledges the complex and multifaceted nature of individuals' experiences.
  • From "Gender" to "Gender Identity": The traditional binary understanding of gender has given way to a more nuanced appreciation for the diversity of gender identities and expressions. Surveys must now accommodate this shift by using inclusive language that recognizes the complexity of gender identity.
  • From "Disability" to "Accessibility": The focus has shifted from simply acknowledging disabilities to prioritizing accessibility and inclusivity in all aspects of organizational life. This requires surveys to move beyond mere awareness and towards actionable insights for creating a more accessible work environment.
  • From "Equality" to "Equity": The most obvious of all, but we still see a lot of people talking about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, rather than Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The two concepts are very different...

In addition, we've broken apart questions, joined some together and changed the way we investigate a lot of different demographics:

  • Sexual Orientation: following our initial disaster, this question has probably seen more tweaking than any other single question.
  • Caring Responsibilities: we recently broke the question apart to separate childcare from adult caring responsibilies
  • Social Mobility: we still haven't settled on a single "best" approach to understand social mobility; with different questions seeming to be better for different organisations. The formal approach of asking "were you eligible for free school meals", isn't super-helpful in organisations with a large number of different nationalities where a simple "what class do you consider your parents to be" might be more appropriate.
  • Remote working: our most recent piece of feedback relates to one of our Inclusion questions on remote working: "When working remotely, I feel that I am able to contribute as much as people working from the office". The particular employee rejected the premise of the question stating that s/he feels that they can contribute more when working from home vs working in the office. We'll tweak the wording in the next couple of days...

These changes may seem subtle, but they have profound implications for the effectiveness and sensitivity of your diversity and inclusion survey. By staying attuned to these shifts, Divrsity's template questions ensure that our clients can gather accurate, reliable, and respectful data from their employees.

The Need for constantly Evolving Template Questions

By continually updating our template questions, Divrsity ensures that our clients reap numerous benefits, including:

  • Save huge amounts of time: Stop scrolling the interwebs to create a set of questions that hopefully represent your organisation; followed by hours of debate on wording. Use our specialist knowledge to launch a survey that will generate insight.
  • Increased accuracy: Surveys that use contemporary language and concepts are more likely to yield accurate insights into employee sentiment.
  • Enhanced credibility: Organizations demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion by using surveys that reflect the latest research and best practices.
  • Improved engagement: Employees are more likely to participate in surveys that they feel respect their experiences and perspectives.


In the fast-paced world of diversity and inclusion, stagnation is not an option. At Divrsity, we recognize that our template questions must continually evolve to reflect the changing language and nuances of the D&Ispace. By doing so, we empower organizations to create a culture of inclusivity, respect, and empathy – one survey at a time.

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