Is it time for an EDI audit of your company?
Pandemic. Inequality. Challenging. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when reflecting upon the last two years. However, alongside the ongoing pandemic, 2020 and 2021 will also be remembered as a period of heightened global activism.
Worldwide movements such as #BlackLivesMatter were reignited by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and a number of others, bringing long-standing issues of racial and gender disparities to the forefront. In response, organisations have needed to reexamine their attempts to establish genuinely equal, diverse and inclusive workplaces.
Studies repeatedly conclude that organisations with diverse workforces and inclusive cultures outperform their peers by up to 40% across all performance measures, from loyalty and innovation to growth and productivity, but how do we turn these insights into actions? Is it necessary for a devastating event to occur before organisations start to take a proactive and strategic approach to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)?
Undoubtedly, when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, knowing where to begin can be difficult; undertaking an EDI audit is a great first step towards embedding sustainable and positive changes.
What is an EDI Audit?
The word “audit” can sound intimidating, but simply put, an EDI audit is a way for organisations to gather data and evidence from which they can develop their equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.
EDI audits essentially look at the makeup of your organisation to provide a holistic view, identifying good practice and areas for improvement. This analysis may include: employee demographics, their thoughts on diversity and inclusion, and representation (such as the number of women, minority groups, and employees with disabilities) at different levels of seniority in the organisation.
Good EDI audits will give an indication of who is in the organisation and how they feel about key measures of diversity and inclusion. The aim is to provide organisations with a data-led and impartial understanding of what their baseline level of performance is in regards to diversity and inclusion. Only then can you set the direction of travel for your EDI journey and measure progress.
Employee satisfaction and retention: Conducting an independent EDI audit demonstrates that an organisation cares about its employees and is committed to building a truly diverse, empowering and inclusive workplace. Furthermore, prioritising EDI and embedding it into every aspect of your business can improve employee retention, engagement and widen your talent pool: organisations with happy employees are more resilient, healthier and productive, and can help attract more quality applicants to your vacancies.
Psychological safety: EDI audits allow you to see aspects of your organisation that are not necessarily visible, such as employee wellbeing. For example, a white male senior leader may not have any problems with the organisation's culture and policies, whereas a person with a hidden disability may experience things very differently. Therefore, anonymous EDI audits allow employees to confidently share their honest views and beliefs without the fear of being singled out. In turn, this can help to improve staff morale.
Greater creativity: Supporting and empowering people from diverse backgrounds who have different thoughts, lived experiences and opinions can result in better solutions, boost innovation and productivity. Having diversity within a team not only allows everyone to share their perspectives and learn from each other’s strengths, but it also reduces the threat of poor decision-making which can be the consequence of groupthink (this occurs when a team’s ideas and outlook are similar).
Improved strategies and business performance: According to a Gartner study from 2019, “gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed gender-homogenous, less inclusive teams by 50%, on average.” Moreover, a BCG study found that “companies with diverse management teams had a 19 percent increase in revenue compared to their less diverse counterparts.” The positive impact an EDI audit has on financial returns and employee productivity is evident, and plays a powerful role in helping organisations identify and drive out any structural and systematic inequalities.
Although EDI audits can deliver a range of beneficial outcomes for businesses and organisations, efforts should not stop there. Once organisations gain a strong awareness of where improvements and progress can be made, resources need to be allocated to enable a targeted strategic response to reap the benefits from increasing diversity and inclusion.
This stage can involve anything from reviewing policies and procedures, conducting tailored EDI training sessions to ensure the diversity and inclusion needs of your organisation are met and sustained, and even re-evaluating your organisation’s core values so that diversity and inclusion is woven into the very fabric of the culture. This will embed EDI in everything you do from recruitment to measuring key performance indicators.
It is important to remember that when it comes to EDI there is no quick fix, diversity and inclusion is a constant process of improvement.
The Equal Group is committed to working with organisations to help eradicate bias and optimise equality, diversity and inclusion in your workplace. If you would like further advice, to discuss any concerns, or are thinking about embarking on your EDI journey today, book a free consultation with our team, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by: Zakiya Ilyas (She/Her) - Digital Content Creator at The Equal Group