By Dr. Sandra Upton, Vice President, Educational Initiatives
Do you ever feel like your organization’s efforts to become more diverse and inclusive seem to be getting nowhere? You and your team members find yourselves spending significant amounts of energy trying to do many good things with really good intentions. Yet the results are dismal at best, hard to measure, and senior leadership questions whether the return on investment is paying off. Why is this? Two reasons – and we see them often.
First, we often don’t even know if the diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts we are engaged in are the right ones. How do you know if requiring mandatory diversity training for every employee in the company is the right thing to do? Or, if having multi-cultural potluck dinners every Thursday night is helping to create a more inclusive campus environment?
Second, even if we are doing the right things, we often have no idea if they are working or making a difference. Having employees participate in diversity training is probably not a bad idea (it’s actually a good one). However, if the training is not designed and facilitated in a way that builds in accountability, including action plans and post-training follow-up for the participants, your efforts may be a waste of time and resources. Worse yet, if not done well, diversity training can actually perpetuate stereotypes and erode efforts to build a culturally intelligent environment.
When it comes to creating a diverse, inclusive, and culturally intelligent organization, sometimes we simply “don’t know what we don’t know” and we get stuck. It’s in these situations when it might make sense to consider doing an honest assessment of where your organization is in the journey to become more diverse, inclusive, and culturally intelligent. And, more importantly, identify the right moves to get there. This process is what we call a CQ Audit™.
What’s exactly involved in a CQ Audit™?
The audit is a process that is designed to help organizations assess and understand their current state as it relates to their diversity and inclusion efforts. Another way I like to describe it is to “lift up the hood” of the organization and analyze the different parts, both old and new. See how well the initiatives you’re using are working (or not), independently and together. This includes everything from hiring practices, marketing messages, learning and development offerings, and more. The ultimate goal is to use what is learned from this comprehensive assessment to inform the development of a strategic road-map for implementing a D&I effort that is measurable, transformational, and sustainable.
A Singular Focus is Not Enough
Hiring a diverse team is important, but it is not enough if the organizational culture is not inclusive and team members lack cultural intelligence. Attracting a diverse population of students on campus is important but not enough if your faculty are not equipped to adapt their teaching style and curriculum to meet the needs of and include the diversity of cultural backgrounds of the students. As mentioned earlier, training is often essential but not enough if there is no action plan that encourages changed behavior and improved intercultural performance by your employees. The research and our experience in working with hundreds of organizations across the globe has shown us what areas you need to be paying attention to. They include looking at things such as leadership commitment, access and equity, inclusiveness, and developing the cultural intelligence of employees or students. To assume you can focus on just one thing and experience lasting, quality results is naïve.
Time to Lift Up the Hood?
So how do you know if your organization needs an Audit? And what are the benefits? Let’s first start by “assessing” whether you might need to consider an assessment. Take a look at the checklist of questions below and see how you might answer them.
|Does your organization…||
|Have a strategic plan for its D&I efforts?|
|Have a strategic, D&I plan that is integrated into the overall organizational strategy?|
|Have confidence that D&I goals and efforts identified are appropriate and relevant?|
|Experience progress with its D&I efforts?|
|Define what it means by “progress”?|
|Effectively evaluate and measure its D&I efforts?|
|Use processes and assessment tools that are academically validated?|
If you answered “no” to at least half of these questions, your organization may want to consider an Audit at some point. The benefits far outweigh the time and investment necessary, and the work invested in the short-term can save you a tremendous amount of time (and headache) in the long-term.
Businesses, educational institutions, and other organizations that are making substantive progress in their diversity and inclusion efforts and becoming more culturally intelligent are not afraid to be transparent and proactively seek to learn what they don’t know and what they need to do differently. They understand that it is the strategic combination of multiple and consistent efforts over time that make the difference and create real and lasting behavioral and organizational change.