Diversity audits – where to start
What is a diversity audit and what are the benefits of it?
The term ‘diversity audit’ can sound daunting. But diversity diagnostics are a useful place to start when trying to find evidence to shape your diversity and inclusion strategy. This is about understanding workforce demographics and the cultural factors that create a diverse and inclusive organisation.
There are two key reasons why diversity audits are useful for your business:
- Better business decisions
- Increased creativity
You make better decisions when you hear more voices. Homogenous groups are great at agreeing with each other, but may all agree on the same, wrong decision because they haven’t considered different viewpoints. Diverse views lead to different ideas and a better understanding of your customers or service users. Creativity comes from people with different backgrounds seeing the world differently and coming up with new approaches. To take one well known example, Florence Nightingale went out to the Crimea as a nurse, but her analytical approach led to an understanding of the importance of hygiene in preventing death. Something we take for granted now, but it needed someone who had a different perspective to see it.
So, how do you realise these benefits?
By commissioning a diversity audit. This is both a science and an art. The skills required are analytical, insight and creativity. Analytical skills so to understand what your data is telling you. You need insight to imagine what it might be like being someone who is not in the majority applying to your organisation when our tendency is to hire and work with ‘people like us’. You need creativity and this is partly about storytelling. Through your stories, you want to show that this is a place where you welcome difference and make sure everyone has a voice and an opportunity to succeed. The stories need to be visual, spoken and written.
Bringing together the art and science of creating an inclusive organisation does not just happen because of good intent. It needs to come from the top and have firm foundations beneath it. This is what a diversity audit gives you: the building blocks that will enable you to shape your strategy. It covers analysis of your data, insight into your organisation and recommendations on what you can do to become more diverse and inclusive. Read our post on how to build diverse and inclusive cultures to find out more.
The diversity audit looks at four dimensions:
The diversity audit helps you understand and develop your diversity data. What happens in an audit, depends on where you are as an organisation. It can mean helping you design and capture your diversity data, if you have yet to start on this. If you are already collecting it, it could mean exploring ways of benchmarking your data and helping you understand what it’s telling you. Check our half-day Diversity Data Open Course to find out more how to accurately capture diversity data and measure its impact meaningfully.
Has anyone looked at your policies lately? A diversity audit is an opportunity to see if you have the right suite of policies, which reflect your company culture and drive inclusive leadership.
How about your recruitment? Are you reaching out and attracting diverse talent? Is that talent progressing through your organisation or is there more you can do? Does your performance management system help bring out the best in people? Learn more about our one-day Inclusive Recruitment course to find out more about how to attract and retain diverse talent.
A diversity audit involves speaking to a range of staff to find out their views on the organisation. How do the policies and processes work for them? Do they feel included, able to share their ideas and opinions?
We agree the questions we are asking with the commissioner. Then we conduct confidential one-to-one interviews and run focus groups. This means that people can speak freely to an external person about their experiences and that the conversations focus on what will take the organisation forward. We would also look at the signals the organisation is giving, who’s represented in annual reports, on the walls, in meeting room names etc. The resulting insights are put together into a report with recommendations.
At EW Group, our values are ‘positive, practical and creative’, so we always look for what the company does really well, so that we help you build on your strengths. We give practical recommendations on best diversity practices and we make it as straightforward as possible to generate momentum. Our creativity shows in how we synthesize all the information into one report and work with you to make sure the report lands. Get in touch to find out more about how we can support your organisation.
Teresa Norman is a Diversity and Talent Management Consultant for EW Group. Teresa’s work covers both strategic work and delivery. Her specialisms include policy development, investigations, research, coaching, facilitation and talent management – with a focus on working at an organisational level to build inclusive cultures. Teresa’s expertise has meant she’s EW Groups go-to for research having delivered many reports for EW Group’s extensive client base, including co-authoring the report, ‘A Regional Approach to Talent Management‘ for the NHS London Leadership Academy.