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Why bother collecting data? The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion data for SMEs

As an SME, your teams are all-hands-on-deck so collecting DEI data might seem at first like a misdirected use of resources. However, it can be a powerful tool to level up your business. Let’s explore why, how to collect it and crucially, how to act on it for a winning workplace culture.

A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) statement of intent is a key step in ensuring your DEI strategy is anchored within the overall business strategy. Organisations that have worked through the processes below are ready to write their DEI statement of intent.

Why is collecting data important?

Sustainable business practice is here to stay. A recent CBI survey highlighted that 80% of SMEs cite sustainability as a priority area, with diversity, equity and inclusion a core element of the ESG / sustainability agenda. We know that employees want to work in an inclusive culture and that doing so boosts well-being, productivity and ultimately creates greater profit for your bottom line.

Good business requires good governance and risk management. DEI data collection supports you complying with equality legislation and fair employment practice. These are important to show you are addressing societal challenges such as a living wage and ensuring everyone is treated with respect in the workplace.

Increasingly, suppliers in B2C need to prove their inclusion credentials up the supply chain and regulated markets are also increasing their expectations in this space.  DEI data is the evidence you need to back up your values and policies.

As an employer, data collection will shine a light on your inclusive hiring practices; it is key to understanding the profile of candidates applying for and joining your organisation. With 43% of companies struggling to recruit in 2023 ( FSB), data gives you much-needed clarity on any roadblocks you might be facing and informs improvements to your recruitment process, plus the wellbeing and retention of those hires.

Collecting and analysing your demographic data is also an excellent way to support organisational performance by:

  • Enabling diverse talent to thrive through an inclusive culture
  • Measuring representation at all levels of your organisation
  • Investigating any trends in wellbeing, absence and bullying or harassment
  • Analysing trends associated with reward, pay and benefits.


So how do you collect this all-important data?

We’ve seen that collecting DEI data supports your ESG strategy, supplier profile, inclusive hiring and organisational performance.  But how do you collect this powerful information?

A demographic monitoring survey is a simple and effective way to gather the data you want and need together. Both as part of your inclusive hiring process and your employee voice strategy, a survey can be designed and delivered simply. Just ensure that you think through these considerations.

Start with the end in mind.

  • What do you want to get out of the survey?
  • Do you just need quantifiable statistics, or do you also want anecdotal feedback?
  • What are you going to use the information for?
  • Do you have the right platform in mind to collect the information through?
  • Do you have the right expertise in-house to analyse the results?
  • How are you going to share the insights with your teams and wider stakeholders?

Never has communication been more important as when collecting DEI data from your people and applicants. From planning to delivery, analysis to publication, effective, clear communication is your secret to success.

Transparent and reassuring communication also helps to build trust, which is essential to build confidence for all employees to share their personal data. To start with you may wish to consider an anonymised approach to demonstrate the value and build trust in sharing data. When circulating your demographic monitoring survey, ensure you include the following information:

  • Why you are collecting this data
  • How the data will be used
  • How the data collection links to your organisational goals
  • An explanation that completion of these forms is not mandatory
  • Details for whom people should contact if they have any questions or concerns
  • Data protection including:
  1. How people’s anonymity will be protected
  2. Where the data will be stored
  3. How the data will be protected
  4. Who will have access to the data (and for what purposes)
  5. How long the data will be stored for (and why)


Acting on the data collected step by step

Well done! You’ve integrated your demographic monitoring survey into your employee action plan and into your inclusive hiring process.  You’ve gathered some excellent data, which you’ve turned into powerful insights.  What next?

As we acknowledged at the start of this article, your resources as an SME are likely to be limited.  We know from productivity strategies that attaching a new action to something already established is the key to creating change that will stick. So, let’s embed acting on this data into your existing processes; a step-by-step approach will yield the greatest results.

This could look like:

  • small but high-impact changes to the recruitment process to ensure true inclusion
  • tweaking employee communication channels to ensure all voices are heard, or
  • making simple workplace adjustments to support those with different needs

These step changes can all be achieved through tweaking existing business practice, making it a more manageable task for your teams and a worthwhile outcome from your surveys.


We have the right tools for the job

As an SME, you probably don’t have the time to spend researching which tool to use for your data collection, or the budget to allocate to one.  As an SME ourselves, we understand that – we have designed just what you need. The Inclusion Maturity Index tool enables you to simply yet effectively gather and monitor the DEI data you want, completely free of charge for SMEs with fewer than 50 employees. Sound good? Find out more at

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