Diversity is an integral aspect of the core functioning of any organization. Diversity is embedded in issues of fairness, morale, justice, procedures, ability to adapt to changing conditions, and ability to attract and meet the needs of diverse customers—all things that are central to the functioning of the organization.
Organizations share many of the same core challenges to creating an atmosphere of inclusion, issues they inherit from the larger society. However, each organization has different strategies in place that may mitigate—or exacerbate—these issues. Every organization is unique, and each is at a different level of awareness and preparedness to move to the next step of addressing issues of diversity and inclusion. One size never fits all.
Because each organization is unique, there is no “silver bullet” for understanding, supporting, and enhancing diversity. It is thus essential to uncover the complete scope of what’s happening in a particular organization. That includes a comprehensive climate assessment. A climate assessment involves gathering information from employees with different perspectives and insights about diversity experiences. It sheds light on what an organization is doing well – potentially better than other organizations, with respect to DEI– and how it can do better.
Leveraging Data to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The organizations we partner with are willing to ask: Are we a fully inclusive and equitable organization for all our employees and those we serve? If not, how do we become one?
Understanding Your Current Strengths and Areas for Growth
Understanding where you are is a necessary first step to advancing equity and inclusion for your diverse employees and customers. For over ten years, we have partnered with dozens of organizations to provide them with the real-world evidence they need to make data-driven decisions, proactively identify challenges, and leverage their strengths.
Understanding Where You Need To Go and How to Get There
Advancing organizational inclusion and equity requires more than just data insights – you need a clear and actionable roadmap to guide you in creating positive and sustainable change. Our equity and inclusion scientists carefully analyze assessment results to develop a set of actions and best practices specifically designed to give you a clear path to growing diversity, equity, and inclusion within your organization.
What’s involved in a Diversity Science Inclusive Organizational Climate Assessment?
Domains of Inclusion: Insights into Employee Experiences
After decades of research, our scientists have identified seven key domains of inclusion – the characteristics of a vibrant, inclusive, and equitable organizational climate. Your dedicated Data Insights team will design assessment tools using validated and actionable metrics, each being customized to your diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
Working in Different Worlds: Insights into Diversity
To understand the different worlds in which employees work, we analyze the data to detect any meaningful differences in employees’ experiences along key diversity dimensions, including age, disability, gender identity, race and ethnicity, religion, body size, sexual orientation, and many more.
Our Inclusive Climate Assessment Process
Our team has honed a five-phase assessment process that efficiently and reliably generates actionable insights into your organization’s DEI climate. Each phase takes about one month. The Collection phase usually involves at least one of two critical components:
- Confidential online survey
A comprehensive, confidential survey tailored to your organization’s needs reveals important themes, information, and areas for deeper exploration. Usually requiring 15-20 minutes to complete, an online survey allows respondents to share their perspectives regarding important issues safely, privately. Such data can also enable an organization to see how it compares to other organizations.
- Discovert interviews
Speaking to individuals within an organization in an informal setting yields a tremendous opportunity to fully understand the challenges at play and determine the type and scope of inclusion training needed to deliver a meaningful and lasting impact. In-person interviews also provide a chance to include employee narratives (all confidential) that bring the quantitative findings alive. Often, we learn a lot about an organization, both from the topics on which many employees say the same thing and from issues in which people express divergent views. Understanding the organization from in-depth discussions with leaders and employees helps us see complex issues in a clearer focus.
The goal of a climate assessment is not to simply arrive at a summary or superficial measurement that ranks employee satisfaction. Such an approach is an over-simplification of a complex tapestry, as people of different positions/ethnicities/genders/education levels, etc., will all naturally have different views. The goal of a climate assessment is to capture these unique views and generate an accurate picture of the myriad perspectives and motivations at play—and their impact on the organization.
Strengths are as important as weaknesses.
Though it is often a specific problematic incident or company-wide shortcoming that causes an organization to approach a partner about implementing inclusion training, a climate assessment helps reveal the whole picture: what can be improved and what is working well.
Uncovering and discussing the strengths of the organization is an excellent vehicle for creating or reinforcing social cohesion. It provides an opportunity for shared pride, shared commitment, and satisfaction in organizational distinctiveness. It’s also an excellent foundation for trust. Focusing solely on problems is a mistake that can create difficulties in social cohesion, trust, commitment, and coordination between different groups.
Effective D&I strategies are not about applying a one-time bandage to a situation and then calling it a day. Lasting change comes from understanding the system in a holistic manner. It involves shoring up areas of shortcoming and building on strengths to make companies more resilient, creative, and flexible. In short, once you find out what’s working well, the goal is to further replicate it and build on it.
The importance of strong supporting materials & communication
A climate assessment does not occur in a vacuum. Company staff are naturally curious, and leadership must be prepared to proactively provide information and address questions. Failure to do so can create more stress in the workplace. How leadership communicates is crucial for participation and honesty—two crucial factors in yielding meaningful results from the climate assessment.
Our approach to addressing staff’s interest is to provide materials and resources that equip company leadership with tools to communicate effectively with teams. These usually include an online FAQ page (that is updated as relevant new questions emerge) and specific messaging strategies that demonstrate to employees that D&I issues are not simply a “special project” (i.e., one-off undertaking) but are a vital aspect of achieving goals and missions, at both the company and individual employee levels.
We sometimes think of the organizations we work with as “the heroic client.” They are willing to take an honest look at the organization and are prepared to turn weakness upside down and invest in further developing their strength. They ask themselves: Do we truly have a positive climate for diversity and inclusion? If not, what do we need to do? A heroic organization is ready to measure this critical aspect of its future as a foundation for further strategic action. It all begins with a climate assessment.