Hello! I’m Kathleen, the newest member of the ComEngage team! I’m thrilled to join as a Research & Engagement Associate. My background is in anthropology and social research, and I have spent most of my career working in evaluation for nonprofits and museums. With my background and love for qualitative research, I will be particularly involved with the conversations that were introduced in a previous blog post. I’m excited to learn more about the issues that are important to ComEngage’s clients and the communities they serve!
As part of the interview process, I was asked to analyze and present data from ComEngage’s 2020 National Benchmarking Survey. This annual survey gathers insights from a sample of residents living in cities of all sizes across the United States. The survey provides baseline measures on a community’s brand health and delivery of critical services against which individual communities can compare their own results. About 2,500 surveys are completed each year.
My assignment was to explore one or two questions that interested me and prepare a presentation of the results. When faced with this task, I considered what issues cities might be particularly interested in given recent events. One issue that came to mind was the increased focus on social justice and racial equity.
ComEngage’s benchmarking survey includes a related question: “To what extent is your local government meeting your expectations for diversity and inclusiveness?”, defined further as “cultivating an environment of acceptance and appreciation for individuals of all backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences”. Respondents rated their perceptions of how well their local government meets their expectations on a 7-point scale ranging from “does not meet expectations at all” to “greatly exceeds expectations.” I decided to look at the mean ratings for this performance measure for Hispanic, Black, and POC respondents (combined) compared to white respondents.
When I explored the data that I was given, there appeared to be a statistically significant and practically meaningful difference in perceptions of Hispanic, Black, and POC respondents compared to white respondents. Hispanic, Black, and POC respondents were less satisfied and felt that their city was not doing as well as white respondents did.
Once I joined the ComEngage team, however, I was able to explore the data a bit further and use ComEngage’s dashboarding tool to display the results. Instead of using mean scores, I looked at the distribution of the responses. Using an approach that is similar to computing the commonly used Net Promoter Score (NPS), I grouped the responses into three categories: respondents who were strongly positive (i.e., responded that their local government “greatly” exceeds their expectations for diversity and inclusiveness), those who were passively positive (i.e., responded that their local government somewhat exceeds their expectations for D&I), and those who would like to see their local government do more (i.e., said that their local government does not meet or just meets their expectations). What this analysis shows is that more one out of three survey respondents feel that their local government could do more and that only one in six feels that their local government is doing enough.
Again, using an approach similar to computing an NPS, I subtracted the “needs to do more” percentage from the “strongly positive” percentage for a gap score of -18%, indicating that, as a whole, respondents feel that their local governments need to do more to meet their expectations for diversity and inclusiveness. I then looked at whether this distribution varied by race / ethnicity. What I found was that there was no significant difference in the percentage of white and minority respondents who feel their local government is doing a good job of supporting diversity and inclusiveness in their community. On the other hand, minority residents are significantly more likely to feel their local government needs to do more while white residents are passively positive. Thus, the gap in perceptions (between those who feel their local government is doing a good job and those who feel they need to do more) is more than 50 percent higher among minority residents than those who are white. This is consistent with what we are currently seeing in other research about the divide between those who hear about the problem and those who directly experience it.
I took this a step further to examine differences among several minority populations. I found that all minority groups had larger gap scores than people who identify as white alone, but people who identify as Hispanic (of any race) or Black/African American had the largest gap scores (indicating that they had more negative and less strongly positive responses), and those who identify as Asian or any other race had the smallest gap scores (indicating that they had less negative and more strongly positive responses).
Click here to explore this data in our interactive Dashboard Demo.
I look forward to exploring more issues like this one that are relevant for cities today and helping clients connect to their communities to gain powerful insights! Look out for more blog posts from me as I continue to learn.