Collecting Diversity and Inclusion data for your company

A company’s demographic makeup has never been more relevant. Employees want to know things: how leadership plans to measure and prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion, how they compare to other companies in their sector or industry, and what tools they can be using to be even better. Measurement is the first step in assessing gaps and creating an action plan for change. 

This post summarizes some interesting learnings from a Network-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey we conducted last Winter. Given what we are hearing from our companies, our sense is that a lot has changed since November, and if we ran this survey today, the results would likely be very different. Nonetheless, there are some helpful takeaways that we wanted to share. 

TL;DR: Our 2nd Annual USV Network Diversity, Equity and Inclusion survey centered around if and how companies collect demographic and diversity data on their employees, and what other companies can learn from this process. Here are the key findings. We previously shared this with our HR leads but now want to share it more broadly.


One way we try to help our companies is by aggregating network-wide data, insights and trends and sharing out the top takeaways. We see a tremendous amount of value in connecting our active portfolio of 90 companies, ranging in size, sector, and geographies who are willing to share strategies and lessons learned with one another. 

Over the past several years, we have spoken with leaders from within our portfolio about the obstacles they face with becoming and maintaining a diverse and inclusive organization.  As a result, in 2018 we decided to launch an annual survey focused on the diversity, equity and inclusion advancements and challenges taking place within our portfolio companies.  

Our 1st Annual Survey focused on identifying any initiatives that have been the most successful at rolling out a DEI strategy. We summarized and shared those findings last January. 

Our 2nd Annual Survey in 2019 centered around collecting employee demographic and diversity data. The survey launched in November 2019 and closed in January 2020. The 22 questions included a mix of multiple choice and open ended responses.

Key Takeaways:

We’ve put together a report of the results, and have highlighted a few below. To start, here is a breakdown of who participated and how it compares to our portfolio makeup at the end of last year.

  • Of the 80 companies invited to participate, 47 filled out the questionnaire.
  • The highest percentage of respondents came from the 1-30 employee range (36%). This percentage is slightly higher than the number of companies in our portfolio of that size (31%).
  • The second highest percentage of respondents came from 101-250 employee range (23%), which is much higher than what’s represented in our portfolio (16%). 
  • 45% of respondents said their headquarters is in New York.

Most companies that conduct diversity surveys are later stage

Most companies that conduct diversity surveys in the USV portfolio are later-stage, defined in this survey as having 51 to 251+ employees. Of the companies that collect this information, it is only collected upon hiring new candidates. 

Within the surveys themselves, 94% of companies that collect data capture gender data on their employees and 75% collect employee age. Roughly 50% collect data on Ethnicity/Race and Nationality.  After these items, there is a long list of items that companies capture on diversity.

The majority, 80%, did not collect any demographic data on their employees as of the time of our survey

We learned that while most companies want to run internal surveys, 80% of our network did not collect any demographic data on their employees. Here are some of the blockers that came up in the results:

Common challenges include:
– Time & execution bandwidth
– Trust & transparency with the team
– Understanding how to effectively enact change
– Knowing how to communicate the results
– Low engagement on survey
“The biggest challenge is talking about the results in a way that doesn’t make people feel isolated. In some areas, only 1 or 2 people self-identified, and showing the results publicly runs the risk of people feeling isolated. To overcome this we have to be very thoughtful about how we show and talk about the data.”

Companies that do conduct surveys view them as very beneficial

Companies that conduct these types of surveys said they have received incredible benefits, both obvious and less obvious. 

  • A total of 8 out of the 47 responses said they run a comprehensive diversity, culture or inclusion questionnaire internally. 
  • Five of these companies create and run the survey themselves, with the remaining organizations using an outside source. 
  • 75% of all respondents said they use engagement tools from CultureAmp
“So far, it helps us to demonstrate that diversity, inclusion and equity are important to us and we’ve committed to running the survey consistently. It helps give us perspective on where we stand as a company and what we can focus on in the future.”Benefits from collecting this data include:
– Increased awareness 
– Opportunities to strengthen employee engagement
– Improved employee retention
– Internal alignment on DEI values
– Focus to help with strategic DEI planning initiatives

Next Steps

When implementing this type of process, the conversations we’ve had with our portfolio have gravitated to some best practices summarized below. 

  1. Start this process as early in the company’s life as possible (the smaller, the better)
  2. Collect external data so your team has industry benchmarks
  3. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Use insights and tools from external resources like Paradigm, CultureAmp, and Project Include 
  4. Identify and recruit key stakeholders across the organization
  5. Build a short, concise survey where each question matches up to a goal or objective
  6. Communicate and set expectations upfront with all employees; be transparent with the intentions and timely with the process and results. Employees should understand the “why” behind collecting the data.

We hope you found these results interesting and helpful. For any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter (laurenmaz) or email at [email protected].