Frequently Asked Questions
Diversity has been defined as ‘any attribute that another person may use to detect individual differences’’ (Williams & O’Reilly, 1998, p. 81). Diversity is both attributive and cognitive, and can refer to differences based on ethnicity, gender, age, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation, and to many more dimensions such as education, occupation, tenure, personality, socieoeconomic status, marital or parental status, and so on. The list is almost endless!
In choosing our metrics, we consider which metrics capture salient diversity for oganisations. We regularly review and conduct research in order to ensure Diversity Atlas captures key diversity data for organisations. We emphasise both cultural diversity, demographic diversity and intersectionality in order to provide nuanced, considered and useful insights in diversity results. Diversity Atlas measures various aspects of both cultural and demographic diversity. In doing so it gives organisations an in-depth understanding of the types and extent of diversity within their workforce, communities, customer base, schools, beneficiaries and more.
Diversity Atlas measures various aspects of both cultural and demographic diversity. In doing so it gives organisations an in-depth understanding of the types and extent of diversity within their workforce, communities, customer base, schools, beneficiaries and more.
- Cultural diversity: country of birth x 3 generations, languages, worldview/religion and ethnicity. These are the accepted upon dimensions of cultural diversity as drawn from the discipline of cultural anthropology.
- In addition the categories of diversity that are considered cultural, we also survey data that is primarily demographic. These factors are also known to be significant in shaping individual attitudes, values and behaviours. Demographic diversity surveyed: age, gender, disability, sexuality, race, education level, seniority level, position – there are so many measures of diversity. We have picked what we believe to be the most salient and relevant to the needs of organisations at present. Further metrics will continue to be considered and added. See below for more information on each of these pillars.
Based on research, and acknowledging that these weights will vary somewhat in time and place, the Diversity Atlas team created an index for measuring cultural diversity across the top three key parameters:
- Ethnicity – 30%
- Country of Birth - 23%
- Language – 23%
- Worldview/Religion –24%
From here, we created a mathematical formula that generates a ‘diversity index’ based on the value of each parameter within a particular group.
First we calculate L1/N, where L1 norm (which is also known as taxicab metric, rectilinear distance or L1 distance) is the sum of absolute differences and N is the total number of different languages (or ethnicities or worldviews) in a group.Our vector can be shown as VN= (V1, V2…VN). So if in a group there are 5 people who all speak one language, our vector will be (5,0,0,0,0).
If all speak different languages, it will be (1,1,1,1,1) and if all speak one language plus English, it will be ( 5,1,1,1,1 ).The entropy of this vector is considered as a probability distribution over the entropy of a ‘smoothed’ vector of the same length.So, in one example, when all the people in a group speak just one language, are all from one ethnicity and all believe in the same worldview, the diversity rating will be zero.
At the opposite extreme, if the number of languages, ethnicities or worldviews equal or exceed the number of people in that team, the diversity rating will be 1 as the most diverse situation. This model has been expanded to include diversity across gender, ability, age, sexual identity and more.
For more background and technical details refer to our paper A Practical Approach to Measuring Cultural Diversity on Australian Organizations and Schools, published in the International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, Vol. 7, No. 12, December 2017.
We are committed to periodically reviewing the weighted index. Our current review, undertaken in 2019, surveyed attitudes towards these various pillars of cultures from people in Europe, Asia and Oceania.
The Diversity Index is a weighted index that considers various pillars of cultural diversity: ethnicity, language, and worldview/religion. The number of the index has no objective quantitative value. It allows an organisation to track changes to its diversity that occur through recruitment and attrition. It is a useful way to track through a single metric, changes to cultural diversity levels over time.
Diversity Atlas produces one weighted diversity index (on the “overview” page), and then separate indices for each of the following metrics: country of birth diversity, language diversity, worldview/religious diversity, and ethnic diversity.
Due to its heuristic nature it is not possible to specify an optimal number.
Country of birth
We use the UN database of countries and follow the UN’s classification of countries and dependent territories. The criteria for the selection of countries listed in Diversity Atlas can be categorised as:
- a full member of the United Nations
- UN Non-Member Permanent Observer States
- Members of specialized agencies of the UN
- Countries connected to a full member and in the process of being decolonized
- islands associated with a Full Member State - e.g, Christmas Island and Norfolk Island are part of Australia.
- Non-Self Governing Territories
Or a region/ overseas territory connected to a country which is a full member of the UN such as the following:
- Overseas Territories/Collectivity/Departments/Regions of France
- Overseas Territories/Department of Britain
- Constituent Country
- Unincorporated Territories of the US & Commonwealth
- Constituent State/Country – eg Antigua is part of the the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- Associated State
The exception to the above is the following:
- a Self-Declared with substantial UN Member states approving the State. In this category I am including only Kosovo since it is recognised by over 100 UN Full member states. The other self-declared states have very limited support from other UN Member States.
Countries and dependent territories that are not recognised by the UN are not included in our list. For this reason countries such as Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Tibet and Taiwan for example do not appear in DA. However should you be in a situation where your country is not listed, as an interim measure we hope that your diversity can be picked up via the ethnicity and language questions.
We’re committed to reviewing our databases, so please do get in touch to share your feedback.
Worldview is the term we use to encompass both secular and religious beliefs. We acknowledge that the term ‘worldview’ can have a variety of meanings, and in this context we follow the usage of word drawing from sociology of religion, and its use in reference to both religious and non-religious worldviews (for example please refer here). We use the term worldview to refer to profound questions such as those about the nature of reality. While religious traditions have historically been the dominant voices in answering these questions, there is an increasing turn to non-religious, and/or secular frameworks for deriving meaning.
Australia’s Census has shown a significant shift in how Australians identify in terms of their beliefs, and there has been a shift towards No religion which includes secular beliefs, new age religious beliefs, atheism, and the like. Based on these trends in Australia’s changing religious demographic and in line with academic practice, we have called this question worldview and have worked to formulate a question that is inclusive to people regardless of their beliefs and invites all users to participate. Our database incorporates religious beliefs, spiritual traditions, and secular frameworks .
An individual may hold multiple positions on religion/worldview. For example, an individual may have been raised within a religious tradition and retain its social practices, but they may have developed deeper commitments to other belief systems. Furthermore, an individual may be raised in a multi religious household, and follow different traditions. We provide the option to list up to 3 worldviews/religions.
Typologies of religious hierarchies are complex because they consider a range of social, organisational and belief (spiritual/existential) factors. We use a three tiered structure to classify religious groups which allows users to precisely specify their religious affiliation. At the top of the hierarchy sits the dominant category of what is, in the case of Christian religions, the ‘church’, with the sub-categories of each church listed below.
We have called the first level of sub-category a branch and the second a sub-branch. We have avoided the use of terms such as, denomination, sect, and school as they are often closely associated with particular beliefs where they have highly specific meanings that are not generalizable.
- Christian → Protestant → Lutheran
- Islam → Sunni → Hanafi
- Buddhist → Mahayana → Zen
- Hindu → Vaishnava → Smarta
- Humanist → at present we do not have other branches or sub groups listed for humanism.
- Know of any? Please get in touch!
We use the term ethnicity to describe groups of people who have shared ideas of culture, language, history, and customs. A person may have more than one ethnicity, and it can be different to their nationality or citizenship status.
Ethnicity and race are complex and interrelated concepts. We use the term ethnicity to describe groups of people who have shared ideas of culture, language, history, and customs. Race does not form part of our cultural diversity index. It refers to the grouping of people into broad categories based on differences in physical appearance. It has no proven basis in scientific fact, and forms the basis of racism – that is, the use of race to establish a social hierarchy and system of power that privileges or advantages certain groups and unfairly disadvantage other groups. While a person may have more than one ethnicity, their race can be both something that a person identifies with and something that is assigned to them by others.
We use the same categories used by the Pew Research Foundation to categorise generations.
- Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
- Generation X: 1965-1980
- Millennials: 1981-1996
- Gen Z: 1997 – Present.
Disability is any self-reported personal, physical, mental or emotional factor/condition than impacts a person’s life.
Our list of disabilities does not come from a published database but was developed under advice from individuals familiar with how disabilities are understood and discussed among peoples who identify as having a disability. As with all our databases we review academic research, current practice and lived experience of people in developing our databases.
Gender and Sexual orientation
We do not conflate gender with the biological fact of sex. Gender is a social construct of which male and female are two categories. The recognition of Trans and Non-binary enables participants to indicate their gender when it is neither male nor female. This is consistent with DA’s goal of inclusivity and capturing relevant data in statistically small categories.
Our drop down lists includes the following responses to the question of sexual orientation: heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, not listed, and prefer not to say.
Position Level and Position
DA is cloud based. If your company has special needs regarding where DA is hosted or you want to have your own features on this tool, feel free to contact us here.
Security and Privacy
Each page of DA has an SSL certificate. Our web server is located in a highly secured domain where its security is guaranteed. All website data is backed up on a daily, weekly and monthly basis - The integrity and availability of any data on DA is our highest priority.