How can I measure cultural diversity?

There are several ways to measure cultural diversity.  The best way for you depends on several factors:

  • Do you own a large dataset?
  • Are you focused on customers, prospects, employees or geography?
  • Do you have expertise and sufficient resource to administer a survey – including design, promotion, management, collation and reporting?
  • Do you have in-house analytical resource, or do you prefer an out-sourced solution?

The following table summarises the options

Data Source Pros Cons
General Survey – ABS Census
  • High coverage
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent for national and regional area reporting and analysis
  • Aggregated area-based data; not applicable to individual
  • Relies on Country of Birth
  • Ancestry data is ambiguous
  • No nuance
Context-specific Survey – Self-Reported Data
  • Mostly accurate
  • Allows for nuances eg parent/grandparent ancestry, granular definitions of ethnicity, world view, language skills
  • Good for small numbers
  • “Narrow and Deep”
  • Not practical for large databases
  • Response rate and response quality vary by context, empathy with purpose, quality of ‘sell’
  • Comparing with census data as a base to represent market view is not valid
  • Variable participant commitment and diligence
  • Privacy concerns; suspicion
  • High administrative overhead for users
Surname Tables
  • Less aggregated than Census
  • Simple (but error-prone)
  • Credibility depends on substantial globally-sourced data resources
  • Broad brush
  • Inference-based
First and family names with geography
  • High coverage – 99.5%+
  • High accuracy of name origin; v good correlation with cultural background
  • Ambiguous names use census-based probability
  • More accurate than Surname Tables
  • No privacy concerns
  • Highly practical
  • Cost-effective for medium/high volume turnover applications
  • “Broad and Indicative”
  • Not best suited for ATSIC
  • Probabilistic
  • One-dimensional; single code overall, and for each of first and family name
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