Why Racial Equity Audits are Critical
Racial Equity Audits are (externally conducted) evaluations that assess and identify systemic bias and discrimination within the workplace. To have true accountability and accuracy, it is always best for these audits to be completed by unbiased third party law firms that are well educated on policies, procedures, and practices that could potentially counteract efforts to build inclusive and equitable workplaces.
These audits will analyze all parts of an organization from its recruiting, hiring, retention, promotion, and training strategies, as well as their respective metrics. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m asked about some of the challenges I’ve dealt with in the workplace, especially relating to race or gender, I know I would be way more comfortable being honest with a third-party who will keep my anonymity, as opposed to Shelly from HR who sits three feet away from me. So - experienced and unaffiliated third parties are the way to go!
These audits are crucial because they provide a realistic understanding of an organization’s value system, and whether or not the organization is truly operating within it. We’ve all seen how easy it is for a big company to post a black square on instagram, or use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, but what we don’t always see is how they choose to practice what they preach internally. These audits provide a direct opportunity for organizations to be able to quantify and measure their DEI efforts.
However, conducting the audit is only the first step. The next and arguably more important step, is what the organization does with these findings. The ultimate goal of Racial Equity Audits is to solidify a strategic roadmap for organizations to continue to move towards becoming the most equity, inclusive, and diverse workplace possible.
Organizations that are already doing so will be able to showcase these audits and share their practices with other organizations to help them achieve the same results. Organizations that have work to do, will have that work cut out for them and a revised plan moving forward. These revised plans can look like adjusting pay equity, developing training or policies around equity and inclusion, or redesigning promotional practices to ensure equal access to vertical growth opportunities.
Four Tips to help Organizations Conduct Racial Audits
Research and select an experienced and equipped law firm to conduct an organization-wide audit. Look for firms that have worked with similar organizations and can provide the insight and performance needed. A smaller startup may have different needs from a large international company.
Be prepared to take active steps based on the findings of the audit. Set aside a budget to go towards implementing solutions that can solve any existing gaps.
Follow the recommendations that are derived from the audit. Update policies and practices that are found to be exclusive or inequitable.
Embed these audits into annual practices. By conducting these audits consistently, organizations will have greater transparency into the policies and practices that are working for their employees and will allow more opportunities for employees to have their voices heard.
For more tips on understanding and utilizing Racial Equity Audits, pre-order my book, The Inclusive Organization.
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