By Cory Schneider | February 5, 2019

As a licensed mental health practitioner, I work with individuals who are seeking therapy; each with their own unique circumstances, symptomatology, and life experiences. I can’t apply the same theoretical model to every patient who comes through the door, nor can I treat every patient using the same interventions. The uniqueness of each case requires a diligent case conceptualization and accurate diagnosis, to avoid providing ineffective interventions to any given case. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating mental health issues or concerns. I can’t provide a mental health intervention or write a prescription without knowing the symptoms.

You can't treat a patient without knowing their symptoms, and you can't create an effective #diversity and #inclusion strategy without an assessment. Click To Tweet

The same is true for your diversity and inclusion strategy. Each organization we partner with on their diversity and inclusion strategy is unique. The intersection of their issues, concerns, market pressures and industry peers, and organizational maturity require a thorough diagnostic approach to better understand where the organization is on its journey to prescribe the steps needed to move towards its goals.


What is a D&I Assessment?

A comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) assessment provides deep, data-informed insight into your organization’s performance to guide decision-making and develop a roadmap to your diversity and inclusion goals. Through quantitative and qualitative data analysis, integration, and synthesis, an effective assessment pinpoints where and why barriers to diversity and inclusion exist.


What Does a D&I Assessment Accomplish?

A D&I organizational assessment enables a critical understanding of the extent to which diversity and inclusion are experienced in the organization. The assessment uncovers strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the areas of leadership, culture, talent, and marketplace. It creates a foundation to allow organizations to prioritize and target their interventions in concert with strategic business goals, rather than spend resources aimed at generic outcomes. The assessment process enables accurate pinpointing of where biases exist in the organization today (in programs, policies, and procedures), what enables that bias, and where barriers might exist that would keep interventions from becoming successful.  Assessments also identify organizational aspirations and what the organization needs to do to get there.


When Should My Organization Conduct an Assessment?

There are many indicators that can alert an organization it’s time to invest in a diversity and inclusion assessment.

1. Some of the more overt indicators are internal or external crises. Has your organization experienced problematic public incidents? Or, is your organization experiencing a boycott, defamation, or just bad press regarding problems with company culture, talent, brand, or customer concern?

2. Less overt, but equally alarming, indicators are talent acquisition and talent management related data concerns. For example, does your organizational data suggest:

  • different promotion rates of women or people of color compared to white men?
  • higher than industry average levels of attrition?
  • lack of incumbents for succession?

These data points are discoverable through engagement surveys meant to get a pulse on the experiences of employees and company culture. These surveys offer insight into enablers and barriers within the organization, but often, paint an incomplete picture of employee sentiment in the organization. Furthermore, the voices of some populations can be diluted when their survey responses are left unsegmented from the rest of the company.  Therefore, segmenting out survey data across gender, ethnicity, talent segment or business unit, generation, and other markers are key to understanding the current employee experience in an organization.

3. Has your organization experienced a major shift such as a merger, acquisition, or structural downsizing? Assessments can inform a comprehensive strategy before the acquisition or predict whether two organizational cultures will successfully merge. Alternatively, large organizational shifts, such as downsizing, can have a tremendous impact on the workplace. An effective D&I assessment results in recommendations that guide organizations as they create and revise policies, procedures, and practices.

4. If you are part of a large organization with multiple divisions or operating businesses, do they have disparate D&I strategies? Due to a lack of access and exposure to one another, individual strategies may compete, duplicate, or contradict the greater organizational vision. A comprehensive assessment looks at each business unit, comparing what works well and what needs alignment with a focus on mitigating duplicative efforts and sharing best practices.

Not sure if your organization needs an assessment? Use this checklist to find out. Click To Tweet

An assessment provides deep, data-informed insight into your organization’s performance to guide decision-making and develop a roadmap to your diversity and inclusion goals. If your organization is experiencing any of these events, an assessment can help you understand exactly where your organization is and what shifts need to occur to accomplish the culture change you need.

Learn more about Cook Ross’ approach to Current State Assessments.




Cory Schneider is a consultant with Cook Ross. He is a diversity, equity, and inclusion specialist with over 10 years of experience partnering with clients to build understanding, foster commitment, and drive ownership of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. He combines experience in social justice, psychology, and human capital to transform organizations.