How to Carry Out a Diversity Audit

Friday, 17th July 2020

Guest blog by Clare Mulligan-Foster – CMC Business Psychology.

Each organisation is different and operates in a different industry with unique factors that impact the make-up of their workplace. Lots of organisations have taken positive steps to promote diversity and inclusion and create inclusive workplaces. Others still have room for improvement.

Regardless of your organisation’s progress in this area, diversity audits play a key role in starting to improve diversity and inclusion at work and in maintaining inclusive workplaces. This article draws on my experiences of working with a range of organisations to carry out their diversity audits.

 

Why Bother With Diversity Audits?

A diversity and inclusion audit will provide a guide to what’s working well for your organisation and how to build on good practices, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

The aim of an audit is to provide a baseline of where your organisation is currently on your diversity and inclusion journey. The audit will assess where you are now in terms of your business and people strategy and will also benchmark you against your industry.

 

What’s Involved in a Diversity Audit?

The diversity audit will also assess employee demographics and perceptions to understand current views. Then – through observations, assessments and research – areas of challenges, biases and barriers will be identified along with what’s working well to provide a clear bespoke action plan to move forward.

Diversity audits should be considered like any strategic piece of work that an organisation will undertake. This means the first stage should be about the business strategy and goals. Does the organisation want to grow? Do they have specific employee engagement goals? Are they expanding to other markets? Are they facing particular industry challenges? A good understanding of the organisation’s plans and ambitions sets a solid foundation for carrying out the research and providing recommendations.

 

Do Diversity Audits Give Similar Results?

Because every organisation is different, diversity and inclusion advice must be bespoke. You can’t give the same counsel to a tech company as you would a public sector organisation. Or for a manufacturing company with global objectives as opposed to a financial services organisation that needs to ensure they have the skills to meet changing customer and regulatory demands.

The macro influences for each of these organisations differs and will impact how they can approach diversity and inclusion. For example, the manufacturing organisation may have an ageing workforce that is 95% male while your tech company may have reached gender balance but has some challenges around race and disability diversity.

Some organisations will respond to influences like wanting to be more attractive to potential employees or building engagement and retention. Others may have faced challenges from suppliers or clients or during a tender process where they have to provide evidence of their diversity.

All these reasons, plus many more, show that asking the right questions at the beginning of an audit process is essential as the evidence that’s collated can help respond to the questions that need to be answered.

 

What Else Do Diversity Audits Deliver?

Another benefit of diversity audits is that they allow organisations to provide an evidence-based approach to developing their diversity and inclusion plans.

The analytics that are collated as part of an audit provide a balance between science and art. Science is needed to gather the data and enable statistics to be run and analysed. Art is required to tell the story of what the data is showing and provide insights into areas like employee behaviour, perceptions and culture.

This combination empowers each organisation to make evidence-based predictions and recommendations for further change needs. And it creates a deeper understanding of more bespoke organisational requirements.

 

Which Steps Should Be Included In a Diversity Audit? 

1. First gather the information you have. Data that can be used includes:

  • Employee engagement surveys
  • Employee demographics
  • Business strategy
  • Absence levels
  • Recruitment and selection data
  • Industry benchmarking
  • Employment trends for industry

2. Review your processes and communications including:

    • Website
    • Marketing material
    • Employee policies
    • Job adverts

3. Complete internal research to understand where challenges around diversity and inclusion may be occurring. This will usually include observations, interviews, focus groups and a staff survey to provide insight to  current organisational culture and employee views.

4. If required, carry out a survey to assess your organisation’s diversity demographics and staff perceptions.

5. Conduct stakeholder analysis including customer, supplier and public perceptions.

6. Complete an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data collections. Assess and analyse in context with macro analysis.

7. Create a report to outline your findings and recommendations based on the research. Guidance will be based on research from any audit activity but also using evidence from research and best practice to help inform practical actions the organisation can take.

8. Link actions from your research to strategy and any known focus of workplace challenges such as recruitment, leadership, culture, workforce planning or business strategy.

9. A final action plan provides an overview of the research and an analysis of the findings to deliver evidence-based recommendations for diversity and inclusion that are in line with the organisation’s strategy and objectives.

Wherever your organisation is up to on your diversity and inclusion odyssey, diversity audits form an important, ongoing part of forming and maintaining an inclusive workplace. Although there’s a lot to a diversity audit, the effort is worth it because the outcomes have the potential to create a culture of inclusion and greater organisational effectiveness.

If carrying out your own diversity audit sounds like too much to do, get in touch with Clare on 07594 946166 or at clare@cmcbp.co.uk for expert support.