HR Audits are becoming the need of the hour. An audit is typically conducted to identify the baseline or evaluate the current situation within the organization with respect to a certain area or sub-process. Hence in case of Diversity, such an audit is important to understand where the organization stands and the distance it needs to cover with respect to its goals in this area.
If one is conducting a comparative survey, then this helps to assess one’s situation against the market practice.
Planning and implementing a diversity audit is an essential process. Since it is in the nascent stages as yet in India, here are a few key pointers on what to bear in mind when conducting this.
- The audit should cover all groups of employees and as many HR processes of the organization as it can, since diversity impacts all people and business related elements. Also, the audit could focus on both qualitative and quantitative data.
- Defining the purpose is critical – Apart from assessing current situation, the audit may have multiple purposes such as gauging employee feedback, assessing business impact of diversity interventions ( ROI), future course of action, deviation from the overall strategy if any and so on. At this stage, it is also important to define how frequently you want to conduct the audit. Typically once a year would be suitable.
- Team – The team that will conduct and analyse the results of the survey should be created. In this team not only is it important to have members from all levels of the organization it should also cover demographic and locational differences. Representation from as many segments as is practically possible should be the aim.
- Questionnaire – The questionnaire is of paramount importance, since the design of this will determine the quality of responses that the team will receive, from the audit. It will also determine how easy or hard it will be to analyse the data and connect it to business impact. Hence spending time and effort on this is important. Some aspects that this should capture for the diversity audit to be successful, are as follows –
- Alignment of manager behaviour to organization’s diversity goals
- Benefits and Workplace flexibility ( e.g. leave, flexi-timings etc)
- Infrastructure ( e.g. for new mothers, differently abled employees etc)
- Employer Brand and Website
- Employee feedback on people processes that foster inclusion
- Employee feedback on diversity policy’s application and changes needed
- Coverage of diversity elements across HR processes ( e.g. recruitment, training, performance management) to indicate a strong strategy.
- Feedback on the grievance redressal procedure in the event of harassment on diversity grounds.
- Communication plan – The communication plan before, during and after the audit will drive the audit results. Before the survey’s launch emphasising on open and frank participation is essential. It is also critical to let the employees know that their responses will remain confidential. The focus should also be on ensuring that there is an element of trust about the fact that this information will be assessed in seriousness and action steps taken accordingly.
Organizations that realize the positive and negative impact of diversity, will put in significant effort to diversify their workforce and also ensure that a regular tracking mechanism is in place to measure their success, in a tangible and intangible manner. The reason for same is that investments in diversity interventions will need to be justified since it is often difficult to link the financial results that diversity can have. Hence, an audit or survey, is not only introspective but also a critical buy-in tool to have the top management aligned to the thought process. Diversity interventions and approaches will need the support of the leadership, which will typically come when they see the business connect. That is what an audit provides in a succinct yet pertinent manner.
The article was first published in Business Manager - HR Magazine’s December 2013 edition. Republished with Permission.