Updated: Feb 18
Can Diversity Audits Help Develop Organisations?
Often, it takes an incident, protest or some other controversial matter to understand that diversity and inclusion is an issue to be taken seriously.
It doesn’t, and in fact shouldn’t, take a negative incident to start the process of embedding diversity and inclusion into the processes, functions and strategic policies of an organisation.
There are many things that an organisation can do proactively to ensure that diversity and inclusion is part of the everyday practices within their business operations.
Auditing for diversity is a key part of developing and inclusive culture.
Many organisations are heralded for having diverse processes, policies and workplaces.
However, this recognition has not made them complacent in their drive to do more, to further embed the principle of diversity and inclusion into the fabric of their strategic outcomes and key performance indicators.
Proactive organisations, go beyond their business and/or industry, to understand the cultural and societal issues that can affect inclusion within their workplace. These are learning organisations.
They strive to achieve successes in all areas of business operations. They understand that business cannot be truly successful without a useful recognition and understanding of the differences amongst people.
Recognising a Diversity Issue
A diversity audit will inform an organisation on where it needs to improve. It informs debate within the business on how it can become inclusive.
It is the precursor of added value training, workplace diversity development programs, learning and development and enhanced business results.
Auditing for diversity and inclusion is one way that a business can take a critical look at itself and gain an understanding of what needs to be done to achieve an equitable and inclusive workplace.
It is critical in allowing a business to examine its policies, processes and functions in relation to diversity.
It allows business to be critical of itself in relation to all aspects of diversity and is the most useful starting point in formulating a strategy to embed diversity and inclusion.
Auditing for diversity enables an organisation to highlight issues and develop solutions.
A diversity audit adds value to the diversity agenda in a strategic way.
It can analyse the organisation, as a whole, and can examine areas such as the business functioning of the organisation, in areas like product and service development and external community engagement.
It can also usefully benchmark the business with key players within the industry. It provides ideas on how a business can better promote itself to a wider range of diverse groups.
Auditing for diversity can highlight areas for developmental awareness around diversity issues and programs of work that could serve as solutions for staffing, workplace inclusion and development of external relationships with the business.
Diversity auditing provides the level of introspection that is necessary to promote such actions as necessary, to enhance diversity and inclusion.
Cultivating an inclusive workplace
Businesses should be investing in cultivating workforce cultures that are focused on inclusion. This means ensuring that policies, training and organisational practices, are constructed in a way that embeds diversity and inclusion into the very fabric of their business.
Cultivating inclusion within a business is important for creating a productive workplace, in a diverse marketplace, where staff are diverse and products and services are required to meet the needs of a wide range of groups. It is also highly important for the brand image of a business.
From recruitment, training, customer service and key performance indicators, diversity and inclusion must be an integral part to metrics of key performance outputs.
Businesses must cultivate a culture around diversity and inclusion.
Every organisation or business, whether public or private, should identify a set of values and beliefs around the diversity and inclusion agenda. These values and beliefs must be seen to govern their practices.
These values, should then form part of every aspect of business operations. It is a key indication that a business 'walks the walk' and not only 'talks the talk.'
To enable the agenda for meaningful diversity, organisations must ensure that diversity and inclusion is a part of the induction process for all new starters. This will ensure that staff fully understand the importance of diversity and inclusion within the business.
Making clear the consequences of failing to adhere to the policies and practices of diversity and inclusion, should be a part of every induction process.
This same instruction can be given to other staff in the form of refresher training.
Policies and procedures are often redesigned following an audit for diversity, making them more robust and compliant.
In order to become proactively engaged around diversity and inclusion, a business must have an engaged management team.
The process of developing inclusive workplaces must be well managed, from the top.
At boardroom level, there must be a genuine will to embrace diversity and inclusion, and to integrate effective processes, throughout the business, to achieve it.
There must be an understanding that diversity and inclusion is about people... building effective work teams, strengthening leadership potential and driving creativity and innovation.
Progressive organisations must also develop cognisance around the business case for diversity.
Developing solutions post audit
An organisation undertakes a diversity audit with one thing in mind.... to develop understanding of diversity and inclusion across the business.
With input from both internal and external sources, an organisation can magnify potential issues that may otherwise remain unseen. These unknowns can manifest in negative ways if left unchecked.
Diversity, and inclusive relationships, should be the cornerstone of the core value and belief system of an organisation.
Solutions for the promotion of an inclusive workforce and for developing creativity and innovation in product / service development, are best procured through a thorough audit of the organisation, as it stands today. The development of an inclusive and productive workforce will inevitably follow.
Auditing for diversity and inclusion, allows an organisation to develop solutions based on the facts gained from research and measurement, the results of which will benefit a workplace in a multitude of ways.
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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions for businesses across the UK.
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