What a diversity audit is, the benefits, and how to start one

What a diversity audit is, the benefits, and how to start one

EW Group consultant Teresa Norman looks at what are they, what the law says, and why you should introduce one. Teresa is a Diversity and Talent Management Consultant whose specialisms include policy development, investigations, research, coaching, facilitation and talent management.

What a diversity audit is, the benefits, and how to start one

The term ‘diversity audit’ can sound daunting, but they are a powerful means of discovering and generating evidence and data to shape your diversity and inclusion strategy. In this article, we provide all the most important information businesses need when deciding whether or not to perform a diversity audit, including what they are, their benefits, and the factors you must focus on when undertaking an audit.

What is a diversity audit?

A diversity audit helps you understand the demographics and culture of your workforce to identify the specific factors that will help you create a diverse and inclusive organisation. They include tools and activities such as diversity diagnostics, equality impact assessments, bespoke diversity research, gender pay gap analysis, and supplier diversity audits, and are the first step towards the attainment of diversity accreditation.

Diversity audits bring together data collection and analysis with staff consultation. They provide a holistic view of your organisation in terms of diversity, equality, and inclusion, allowing the creation of honed diversity strategies that deliver targeted benefits to your organisation and workforce.

What are the benefits of a diversity audit?

There are three key ways diversity audits benefit your business.

– They help you craft better strategies and business decisions, enhancing diversity and inclusion, and business performance

When you are able and willing to hear more voices, your decision making will benefit. Homogenous groups are great at agreeing with each other, but may all agree on the same, incorrect decision because they have not considered different viewpoints. Diverse views lead to a broader range of ideas being heard and a better understanding of your customers or service users, both of which have a directly beneficial effect on the quality of your products and services.

– They unleash and increase creativity within your workforce, spurring innovation

By encouraging and supporting people with different backgrounds, who see the world differently and come up with diverse solutions to problems, you can unleash a tremendous wellspring of creativity within your business. As well as reducing the potential of groupthink that can often result in uninspired decision making, teams with diverse members can bounce and merge ideas together, creating more innovative solutions to problems.

– They help you create an inclusive and equal working environment, improving staff retention and helping attract the best staff, regardless of background

By undertaking a diversity audit, you send a powerful signal to current and potential staff about your workplace culture and HR priorities. This improves the retention of existing staff and attracts individuals that value working for a diverse organisation, widening your talent pool.

How do you begin a diversity audit?

Commissioning a diversity audit requires data collection, analytics, insight, and creativity.

  • Precise data is the foundation of an accurate and successful audit.
  • Analytical skills ensure you can understand what your data is telling you.
  • Insight helps you put yourself in the shoes of individuals in the minority who work at or are applying to your organisation.
  • Creativity – often in the form of storytelling – helps you show that your business is a place that welcomes difference and gives everyone an equal voice and opportunity to succeed.

Creating an inclusive organisation does not just happen on the back of good intent. It must be driven from the top and have firm foundations. This is what a diversity audit provides: the building blocks that will enable you to shape your strategy, 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.

Diversity audits focus on four dimensions

– Data

The diversity audit helps you generate, 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, or if you are already collecting it, exploring benchmarking and analysis. Learn more about our half-day Diversity Data Open Course, designed to help you learn how to accurately capture diversity data and measure its impact meaningfully.

– Policies

A diversity audit is a crucial opportunity to see if you have the right suite of policies. These should be used to direct and reflect a diverse and inclusive company culture and drive inclusive leadership within all levels of management.

– Processes

Diversity audits identify ways in which your internal processes can be improved. This helps guarantee diverse recruitment and selection that reaches out and attracts diverse talent, allows it to progress through your organisation, then be the best it can be with effective performance management. Learn more about our one-day Inclusive Recruitment course, which aims to improve your ability to attract and retain diverse talent.

– Culture

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? The simple act of carrying out an audit and engaging with staff can be a beneficial first step in allowing diversity to flourish.

Once interview questions are agreed, we conduct confidential, one-to-one interviews and focus groups with staff. These allow individuals speak freely to an external person about their experiences, with conversations focusing on what can take your organisation forward. We also look at the signals your organisation is giving, such as who is represented in your annual reports, and within the working environment, such as decorations, meeting room names, and so forth.

At EW Group, our values are ‘positive, practical, and creative’, so we always look for what your company does 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, leveraging our creativity to synthesize all information into a single, easy-to-understand report then working tirelessly to ensure it lands. Contact our team to find out more about how we can support your organisation.

Would a diversity audit be helpful for your business?

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.

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