Masterclass: How to measure LGBT+ inclusivity

Companies should plan carefully before collecting and acting on data

When designing policies and strategies, a lack of data can lead organisations to rely on assumptions about the actions required to tackle organisational issues. This is also true for interventions aiming to enhance LGBT+ inclusivity in the workplace. By not collecting data about the key challenges faced by LGBT+ employees, it is difficult to know how effective your actions will be. So how can you collect this data?

Many businesses have existing measures of inclusion. However, they may not be asking questions about sexual orientation and/or gender identity within their surveys. Including these questions will help organisations understand the challenges faced by this community, and provide a starting point for developing the most effective interventions. 

For organisations that do not already have a process in place to measure inclusion but are looking to understand LGBT+ employees’ experiences, a good place to start is by speaking to LGBT+ staff directly. 

Running focus groups may start to highlight some of the biggest challenges. Once you have this insight, surveys can then provide regular data points about what is happening and how effective existing interventions are. 

When collecting this data, it’s important to give employees the option to self-report their identity, and not to confine them to pre-determined labels. You should also acknowledge that not everyone will want to disclose their identity, so surveys should also include this option. In fact, monitoring this response alone can be helpful, as we know that employees are more likely to disclose their identity in supportive work environments. A high proportion of respondents choosing not to disclose could be indicative of an exclusive workplace culture.

When collecting data, organisations can yield more honest feedback and increase response rates by implementing two important processes. Firstly, ensure that the data is truly anonymous and confidential. Be aware of threats to anonymity, including a small sample size, and plan for this. Secondly, create transparency by sharing with respondents where the data will be used and why.

The experiences of individuals within the LGBT+ community differ significantly, so ensure your data analysis allows for this. By exploring the feedback in the context of different aspects of identity – rather than collating the data – the interventions you use are more likely to be effective.

Ashley Williams is a business psychologist at Pearn Kandola