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Asking the right questions for effective "diversity" audits.

Updated: Mar 4

The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.’— Thomas J. Watson, IBM Founder


A first step to finding ways to enhance an organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion results is conducting an audit of all diversity-related plans, personnel, offices, units, committees, affinity groups and constituencies. For such diversity audits, having an outside consultant enables independent assessment and candid reporting on institutional diversity capabilities. Asking the right questions is more than half the battle of finding ways to effectuate an organization’s diversity goals. Here are some starter questions for conducting effective diversity audits:


1. In defining its “diversity” goals, how much does your organization emphasize diversity as a strategy for furthering its legal compliance; demographic; institutional culture; community relations; or central mission/business objectives?


2. Has your president, managing partner, pastor, chief/sheriff or chief executive officer along with other senior leadership team members (e.g., provost, deans, executive partners, department heads, assistant pastors, deputy chiefs, chief financial officer, chief operations officer) clearly and publicly committed to “diversity” as a means of transformative change and to building diversity, equity and inclusion into the mission, core values, planning, resource allocation and accountability measures of your organization?


3. Does the CDO (Chief Diversity Officer) have direct access to the organization’s senior leadership team and have formal authority, financial resources and staff to guide the process for, approve, contribute or execute robust diversity, equity and inclusion policies and programs?

a. Other than annual diversity reports, what types of diversity accountability systems have been adopted to incentivize fulfillment of your organization’s diversity plan?

b. What role does the CDO play in guiding, approving, contributing or staffing diversity-ready search committees, diversity-enriched job descriptions and diversity-related retention strategies?


4. Does the CDO’s job description define the position’s span of operational responsibilities to include some or all dimensions of the organization’s definition of “diversity” and clearly distinguish between primary, secondary and tertiary duties to focus the CDO’s span of attention, influence and need for support?


5. Does the CDO operate in a vertical structure that is aligned to accomplish the organization’s diversity plan as a collaborative officer (w/only administrative support staffing), unit-based manager (administrative and professional staffing such as programming, marketing, technology and research) or as a portfolio director (dedicated divisional infrastructure with supervision over administrative as well as diversity officers who supervise other units)?


©2020 by DEI Facilitation & Consulting

Contact DEI Facilitation & Consulting (386-473-1336) to discuss how Ted Small can assist your organization with asking the right questions to accurately assess and meaningfully report on your institutional diversity, equity and inclusion structure and capabilities.

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Ted Small, Principal Facilitator

©2020 by DEI Facilitation & Consulting