Most organizations claim that they value diversity in the workplace and have DEI programs in place. And yet, we still read reports about employees from minority groups who feel unsafe at work. A BCG survey revealed that 75% of LGBTQ employees experienced a negative interaction at work. Headstart research found that 66% of Black American jobseekers endure discrimination when applying for new roles. Harassment and discrimination are recurring experiences for members of the LGBTQ community and people of color. Most of them resort to hiding their true selves at work or refrain from pursuing bigger roles. For high-performing companies, diversity is minimum.
If statistics show that DEI is lacking in the workplace, how do you know if your DEI strategies are working? The answer: conduct a DEI organizational assessment.
What is a DEI Organizational Assessment?
First, let’s define what diversity, equity, and inclusion are. Diversity refers to policies and processes that ensure the workforce is comprised of diverse employees in terms of race, age, gender orientation, and ethnicity. These policies and processes encompass everything at work such as recruitment, promotions, work culture, business operations, access to training, and even access to facilities. Equity ensures those policies are fair and impartial for everyone. Inclusion is about making the employees feel that they belong in the organization.
A DEI organizational assessment is a comprehensive review of an organization’s DEI policies, procedures, and programs. The assessment will identify the areas where the organization is excelling and the areas that need improvement. It will also provide recommendations on how to further improve DEI in the workplace.
DEI assessments help organizations focus their efforts where it matters. By regularly assessing your DEI initiatives, you gain valuable feedback about your program’s effectiveness. It also helps you create benchmarks for succeeding strategies.
Why DEI Organizational Assessments Matter
DEI organizational assessments matter because they help organizations track their progress on DEI initiatives. It’s not enough that you simply conduct DEI training or post DEI statements. Your employees must attest to the effectiveness of the whole DEI program. At the end of the day, your organization must have a diverse workforce who feels psychologically safe to come to work. DEI assessments reveal if your company is on its way to achieving these outcomes.
Employees today are in sync with social issues. They want to work for a company that prioritizes diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. These companies make them feel valued and empowered. In return, they become more productive and highly satisfied workers.
Conducting DEI assessments help:
- Ensure that DEI is embedded in the organization’s culture
- Make sure that DEI initiatives are aligned with the organization’s business goals
- Identify unconscious bias in the workplace
- Provide data that can be used to make DEI initiatives more effective
Failing to Detect DEI Loopholes Can Be Costly
Another important reason to conduct DEI assessments is to identify any loopholes in the current system that can cause an EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) violation. The cost of these violations can be significant. A recent report found that the average cost of defending and settling an EEOC charge is $160,000. The cost of litigation is even higher. A study by the National Law Review found that the median jury award for an employment discrimination case is $300,000. In 2018, EEOC recorded 72,625 workplace discrimination charges. This shows that employees are aware of their rights and will sue when discriminated against.
Also, employee lawsuits take almost a year to resolve. This distracts you from allocating time to business matters which could be more productive. Take, for example, the recent lawsuit involving Alphabet (Google’s parent company). Shareholders filed a lawsuit against Alphabet over how they handled the severance of senior executives who committed sexual harassment. Not only did it cost Google $310 million to resolve, but it also led to publicized employee walkouts.
Ignoring the impact of DEI not only exposes the company to costly lawsuits but also impacts overall employee morale. Employees may be less motivated to go to work resulting in absenteeism, unproductivity, and resignations. This creates a ripple effect that affects brand reputation and eventually, loses customers.
DEI organizational assessments help organizations avoid these costs by revealing unconscious bias in the workplace. Regular assessments expose DEI issues early on and allow companies to nip them in the bud. By addressing issues right away, organizations can prevent them from ballooning out of proportion.
DEI assessments are an important part of any organization’s DEI strategy. However, they are not one-time events. They should be conducted regularly, such as every two to three years. This will ensure that the organization is continuously improving its DEI policies and practices.
How to Conduct DEI Organizational Assessments
Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace should be embedded in the organization’s overall business strategy. It shouldn’t be a separate thing or a “trend” that soon loses its focus. It’s an integral commitment that must be apparent in everything the company does.
You know that a company has a solid DEI strategy in place when:
- There are monetary resources allocated to it.
- There’s a significant number of diverse employees both in entry-level and senior positions.
- Employees enjoy working for the company and the retention rate is high.
- Incident reports involving discrimination or harassment are low.
- DEI training and mentorship programs are widely attended and their impacts are highly evident.
- Minority employees have positive anecdotal work experiences.
DEI assessments should measure the above outcomes using predetermined key metrics. Assessments can be conducted internally or externally. If you decide to conduct the assessment internally, you will need to assign a DEI task force or working group. This team should be responsible for conducting the assessment and writing the report.
If you decide to conduct the assessment externally, you will need to hire a DEI consultant. The DEI consultant will help you design and implement the assessment. They will also provide recommendations on how to improve DEI in your organization.
DEI organizational assessments usually involve interviews, focus groups, and surveys. The team conducting the assessment will interview employees, managers, and executives. They will also conduct focus groups with employees from different departments. They will administer surveys to a representative sample of the workforce.
The data collected from these methods will be analyzed to identify strengths and weaknesses. The team will then make recommendations on how to improve DEI in the organization.
Working with a Professional DEI Partner
Running DEI assessments is a full-time task. It’s not something you can rush or postpone because the repercussions can be grave. If you believe that it’s daunting to conduct the assessment internally, you can always tap a professional DEI expert.
With years of experience in the DEI field, our DEI consultants are well-equipped to conduct DEI organization assessments for companies of all shapes and sizes. We use an evidence-based approach in our DEI assessments and are committed to helping our clients create more inclusive workplaces.
Let us reiterate: diversity is the minimum for your organization. Our goal is to elevate our clients toward levels of belonging, empowerment, and inclusion.
If you are interested in learning more about DEI organization assessments or working with Partner for Impact, please contact us today.