How to Assess Diversity in Your Organization

More and more businesses are understanding that diversity is not simply important for company culture and team cohesion. Lack of diversity can also present a significant risk, creating the potential for negative public perception and controversy. Recent years have seen a huge increase in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and HR leaders are adopting a wide range of tools to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

However, without accurate diversity assessment, it is virtually impossible to create meaningful change. Let’s explore some proven methods of assessing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Why is Assessing Diversity So Important?

An accurate diversity and inclusion assessment is essential for every workplace. When companies rely on statistical data about employees, or on incidents that are reported to HR, they don’t have the complete, accurate information necessary to understand the feelings and needs of employees. A diversity assessment allows company leaders, DEI managers, and HR staff to:

  • Analyze benchmarks. Benchmarking is an important aspect of diversity assessment. Companies can compare their DEI findings against other companies in their industry or region, or against global leaders in diversity and inclusion. While benchmarking may not always seem like significant data, it indicates the kinds of analysis that customers, investors, and even employees and candidates, are making all the time.
  • Know what interventions are needed. A diversity and inclusion needs assessment helps to identify specific challenges, problem areas, and employee sentiments. An accurate diversity and inclusion assessment allows specific, targeted interventions designed to address the problems you really have, rather than the problems you think you have.
  • Measure the effectiveness of interventions. Most importantly, an accurate diversity assessment gives DEI managers a metric against which to measure and monitor progress over time. It helps demonstrate the effectiveness of programs, initiatives, and interventions, and allows leaders to make meaningful comparisons, either internally or against external benchmarks.

Research-Backed Methods for Diversity Assessment

There are more and more tools available for organizations that want to conduct a meaningful diversity and inclusion needs assessment. Many of the most widely-available diversity self-assessment tools have been compiled and reviewed in this detailed resource guide from [Health] Equity Strategies and the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity at Brandeis University. While many of the available diversity self-assessment tools are tailored to specific industries and sectors, here are some of the best research-backed diversity and inclusion self-assessment tools for general workplaces:

  1. The Culturally Effective Organizations Framework. Developed by the Southern New Hampshire Area Health Education Center’s Center for Cultural Awareness in partnership with Amoskeag Health, this tool is designed for a wide range of organizations and service providers. It is a high-level assessment tool that measures diversity around the seven framework elements of leadership, policies and procedures, data collection and analysis, community engagement, language and communication access, staff cultural competence, and workforce diversity and inclusion. It is designed to highlight disconnects between company policies and mission statements, and the actual operation of an organization.
  2. Inclusive Dubuque’s Self-Assessment for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Inclusive Dubuque is a local network of leaders from faith, labor, business, education, non-profit, and government, working together to advance justice and social equity. This assessment was developed by their Peer Learning Council, and measures expressed commitment to DEI, authorization of DEI in policy, implementation of DEI in operations, and use of accountability mechanisms to monitor DEI. This tool accounts for multiple and intersecting identities, which is important in a diversity self-assessment.
  3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Spectrum Tool. Developed by the Meyer Memorial Trust, dedicated to accelerating racial, social, and economic justice, this tool is arguably one of the most famous and widely-used diversity self assessments to date. It measures organizations along 12 continuums, including DEI vision, commitment, leadership, policies, infrastructure, training, diversity, data, community, decisions, accountability, and inclusion.

Mistakes to Avoid When Assessing Diversity

As powerful as these diversity self-assessment tools are, there are some common mistakes that companies often make when assessing diversity. Here are some of the mistakes to be aware of:

  • Not understanding the limitations of diversity self-assessment tools. Self-assessment has some inherent drawbacks when compared to third-party diversity assessments. Self-assessments may not always be tailored to your specific organization, your community, and the intersecting identities of your workforce. Third-party tools are usually customized for your needs. Self-assessments are also limited in their ability to provide:
    • Interpretation. A third-party assessment comes with expert analysis and interpretation and gives a more objective perspective on your results and challenges.
    • Benchmarks. Diversity self-assessment tools do not usually come with a robust dataset that allows comparative benchmarking.
    • Interventions. Most importantly, diversity self-assessments may not come with a set of proven, targeted solutions that create a more inclusive workplace. While measurement is the only way to begin, most companies need expert guidance on how to create meaningful change.
  • Not building infrastructure for free and fair participation. The accuracy of diversity assessments depends on free, fair, open, and honest participation from employees at all levels of an organization. Survey distribution, collection, and analysis need to be anonymous and impartial, and many organizations do not have existing mechanisms to ensure equal and open participation.
  • Don’t mistake diversity for inclusion. The biggest mistake most companies make is measuring diversity and mistaking it for inclusion. A company may employ a diverse workforce, but unless diverse employees are contributing equally, being treated with respect, and are empowered to affect their workplace, the organization is not inclusive. Measuring diversity is just the starting point.

Diversity Assessment Step-by-Step

  1. Establish clear DEI goals that align with your overall mission and values. These may include improving representation, enhancing workplace culture, or fostering inclusive practices.
  2. Gather comprehensive demographic data on your current workforce, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, disability status, and other relevant characteristics. You can integrate an AI-powered diversity analytics platform with your existing HR systems to pull in a wide range of DEI-related data, providing a holistic view of your organization’s DEI landscape.
  3. Conduct employee surveys and interviews to understand their perceptions of the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
  4. Compare the collected data against your DE&I goals and industry benchmarks to identify gaps in representation and areas needing improvement. Diversio’s platform can compare your DEI metrics against national averages and industry peers, providing context and highlighting areas of strength and potential growth.
  5. Determine systemic barriers that may be hindering diversity and inclusion in the organization.
  6. Based on the identified gaps, set SMART targets and outline specific initiatives and programs, such as training, policy changes, or new recruitment strategies.

Here are some useful resources to get started based on the findings of diversity assessment in your company:

How Can Diversio Help?

The team members at Diversio are experts at diversity and inclusion assessments, with a proven system that collects accurate, anonymous data, and measures intersectional diversity as well as inclusion. Our AI-powered system uses natural language processing technology to measure and analyze diversity and inclusion metrics, and our one-of-a-kind Recommendation Engine™  provides real-world, proven interventions to create a truly inclusive workforce. Our comprehensive approach and tailored solutions make Diversio the best way to assess and improve diversity in today’s workforce. Contact us for a demo today.

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Diversio DEI Expert
Diversio's DEI expert shares everything about diversity that you need to know.
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"We needed to slice and dice the data in multiple ways and visualize the data in clear and accessible ways and you know Diversio’s survey and platform ticked all the boxes."
Ekua Quansah
Head of EDI, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research

Diversio helps companies become 43% more profitable and reduce employee turnover by 23%

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