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Diversity Metrics: A Guide to Constructing an Inclusiveness Audit

By: Calvin B. Ball, III

When it comes to diversity, gender equity and other inclusive workplace initiatives, the conversation of assessment arises early, as well it should. Whenever such an initiative is implemented, there should be a system of evaluation in place to measure the effectiveness of the organization’s efforts.

Some of the questions, which invariably arise when an organization is considering an inclusiveness audit, revolve around the "whys", "whos", "whens", and "hows", of the process. All of these are valid and important questions, which should be carefully considered before moving forward.

Why should an audit be conducted?

bulletBaseline vitals are paramount to future success
bulletBusiness cases can be persuasively constructed based on assessment data
bulletFeedback gathered aids in recognizing and preventing any future issues
bulletGenerating commitment through employee input gives an organization-wide sense of ownership
bulletIdentifying staff development needs adds value to the entire organization
bulletLight is shed on previously unaddressed issues facilitating awareness and improvement

Who should conduct it?

The individual or group coordinating and implementing the audit will vary from organization to organization. However, whoever is in charge needs to be dedicated and committed, and have a power base from which they can draw when data gathering.

When should it happen?

When should an audit be conducted? Each organization will need to assess this for themselves, however certain criteria are necessary before an audit can be successful. Without buy-in from the top, with out a perceived need from someone in power, without any commitment from someone in the dominant culture, without allocation of any necessary resources, effectiveness of this audit will be hindered. An organization should only move forward on an audit once these critical supports are in place. Also one should construct realistic timetables with enough elasticity for any eventualities not previously considered.

How should it be constructed?

When constructing an audit, make sure to utilize both quantitative and qualitative measures. As you review, plan and implement these two data structures, you will find that within each there are some objective and some subjective, gray areas.


bulletAbsenteeism – Are certain groups more prevalent?
bulletAccidents and safety violations – per affiliation and group
bulletBenefits – Who is using them and how?
bulletBuyer and contractor diversity
bulletCareer Development
bulletWhat’s offered?
bulletWho is active and where?
bulletDemographic representation
bulletDo your organization’s numbers mirror your customer base (current and prospective)?
bulletAre all of your levels and departments generally numerically representative of your organization?
bulletEEO / AA Statistics - An assessment of grievances
bulletLawsuits & Settlements - Are certain affiliations or groups more prevalent?
bulletLeave – Who, when, how long, return
bulletMarket share – Who is here? Who is even aware?
bulletOvertime – Are there irregularities among groups?
bulletPay equity – Are people in the same job getting the same compensation?
bulletProductivity measures – Are they objective and the same across the board?
bulletPromotions – What percentage of each group is represented?
bulletRecruiting – costs, who is interviewing, who gets hired
bulletResponse times – Are they varying among groups?
bulletRetention – What does your turnover rate look like?
bulletSales figures – Are certain groups being more successful?
bulletTraining costs – Are you spending more with minimal results?


bulletAnonymous input systems – suggestion boxes, hotlines, WebPages or outside mail receptacle to deal with issues
bulletBenefits – are you flexible and accommodating
bulletBest practices and benchmarking
bulletAcquiring executive level buy-in
bulletClimate and culture measures
bulletDiversity initiative objectives
bulletMistakes can be prevented through vicarious learning
bulletFocus groups
bulletWith specific groups and
bulletWith mixed groups
bulletInterviews – 1:1
bulletDominant group
bulletNon-dominant group
bulletLeaders / policy makers
bulletOn-the-job observations – Who is saying what outside of official meetings?
bulletPerformance data – evaluations and discipline
bulletPhilanthropy / community ties / networking – are you connected to diverse groups and organizations?
bulletIs there a successful mentoring program?
bulletWhat are you training on?
bulletWhat are you celebrating?
bulletReputation – are you externally recognized for your diversity policies and procedures? How do your peers and the community at large view you?
bulletDo you give awards appropriately?
bulletDo you give your people what they want?
bulletDo you even know what your people want?
bulletDo you reward equally and objectively?
bulletClimate assessment
bulletInternal and external customer satisfaction
bulletTestimonials and complaints– are you appropriately addressing complaints when they are still informal as well as rewarding the proper behavior?
bulletWork group cohesiveness
bulletAre people working for the organization, themselves or each other?
bulletIs it a team-oriented atmosphere?
bulletHow often do conflict and friction arise and how is it dealt with?


bulletYour organization must be ready and willing to deal with both positive and negative data.
bulletIgnorance is bliss, as long as you can afford it.
bulletConsider confidentiality issues and prepare for them.
bulletKnow and acclimate to your time constraints.
bulletCreate an intervention plan. Once you have the data be prepared to act on it.

What does it look like when you are finished?

bulletActive mentoring is available to each and every part of the leadership structure
bulletContributions are given and utilized from a broad group
bulletThe organization generally views diversity as an asset
bulletThere is diversity in leadership, and qualified individuals are sought, found and retained
bulletThere are no barriers; perceived or otherwise
bulletDiversity is a corporate initiative incorporated into the management system
bulletPromotions are reflective of the value of different perspectives and styles
bulletSafe and effective communication and conflict resolution mechanisms exist across similarities and differences
bulletThe organization is recognized externally as a desirable place for anyone to work
bulletEmployees feel valued, trust the system and know what is expected from them
bulletNo one resigns because of exclusion
bulletYou are never finished


For further reading look through our website at the various pages and our online bookstore for: Gardenswartz and Roe, Managing Diversity: A Complete Desk Reference, Gardenswartz and Roe, The Diversity Tool Kit.

Calvin is a Senior Principal with The Diversity Training Group and is dedicated to improvement.