Everyone is talking about how to make organisations more inclusive, but how do you know what “more” looks like? How can you tell what changes you need to make in order to increase diversity and inclusion? Your starting point has to be figuring out your current situation.

We know that it can feel incredibly confusing and overwhelming to try to assess where you are with diversity and inclusion, so we’ve put together a few key questions to ask yourself when you’re beginning your journey.

Start from the beginning

It’s easy to rush into trying to improve diversity and inclusion because you feel under pressure to do so, but you can’t improve on something unless you fully understand that something as it currently is. That means getting hold of hard data and clear facts.

It also means being willing to hear tough feedback. If you’re going to make improvements, you’re going to need to find out where you’re not doing so well – that can be hard. It can be uncomfortable, even painful, to hear what feels like criticism and to know that some people have felt unhappy in, or excluded from, your organisation. But this knowledge gives you the power to make important changes – this is your first step.

Who is in your organisation?

The first task in this process is to gather data about your existing team. Are you collecting equal opportunities data when people start new roles? If not, now is a good time to start. Consider surveying your existing team (anonymously) to understand what diversity currently looks like in your organisation.

Then you can analyse that data. Take a look at where your gaps are – is your organisation predominantly white, for example, or are you lacking in input from people with disabilities?

Not only that, but how does that picture change across different levels? If your wider team has a mix of genders, but your leadership team is all male, then you’ve got an issue. Why aren’t female or non-binary team members being promoted to leadership positions? Why are you happy to recruit women for more junior roles but not for more senior ones? Plenty of questions to ask yourself.

How happy are people in your organisation?

One of the clearest indications of how inclusive your organisation is, is how included and happy people feel working there.

When you’re looking at the diversity data of your organisation, take a look at how long people stay in your organisation. If your retention rate for underrepresented people is substantially lower than for more dominant groups, then you need to ask why. If you’ve been doing exit interviews with staff leavers then those might give you some answers. If you haven’t, start now.

You can also survey your team to measure their engagement with your organisation. How supported do they feel? How valued do they feel? How much do they understand and connect to your mission and values? There are a number of questions you can ask to gain insight into what kind of a working environment is currently operating. Segmenting these results by different groups will also show you if some people are more included than others.

Is everyone able to contribute?

One of the major goals of an inclusion strategy should be to enable everyone in your organisation to contribute their ideas, give their best and know that they will be heard.

Have a look at the working methods and processes that you have in place. How do you go about making decisions? Do you use different methods to facilitate your team to share their input, or do you do everything within the stage of a meeting where only the extroverts are being heard? Do you always ask the same people to contribute, or do you look for different opinions? Do you encourage people to challenge established methods/opinions to push your team to think differently and innovate, or do you reward people who follow tried and tested approaches over and again?

These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself when you’re trying to assess where your organisation is currently with diversity and inclusion. There are many more. Once you’ve gathered the answers, and accepted that some of those answers might mean that there are areas where you have work to do, then you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build a strategy for the future.

If you want to get a clear picture of where you currently are, a focused image of where you could be, and a defined plan of how to get there, get in touch and ask us about how our Inclusion Audit can help you.