Over the years, in the course of my work, I have found ways to make any audit effective. My experience has shown me that this requires a simple formula that can be understood and repeated over a specific time scale.
Here is a basic, step-by-step process that I have tried and implemented over the years in different organisations.
- Ensure you understand the purpose of your audit. Have you identified a problem?
What are you trying to achieve with your equality audit? Has a specific incident prompted the audit?
Whether the audit is proactive (taking place without being prompted) or reactive (taking place due to a specific incident or circumstance) will make a difference to the way it is carried out and the impact the outcomes will have.
- Establish your goals
Do you want to assess your workplace’s diversity make-up in general, or are you looking specifically at, say, the experience of disabled employees?
Understanding and communicating the reasoning behind the equality audit will help participants to work in helping you to meet its goals and achieve any objectives and outcomes that you want.
- Identify key stakeholders
Looking at the aims of your audit, identify members of staff and service users who would be relevant to speak to.
So, if your goal is to have a workplace that is more accessible to disabled staff, consider speaking to your existing disabled employees – or internal or external disability groups – to establish any issues that could be improved.
Or, if you want to address recruitment or disciplinary policies with regard to minority ethnic employees, ensure that you speak to the human resources department and existing BME staff.
- Communicate the importance of the audit
Don’t let your equality audit be seen as a tick-box exercise or simply a formality.
By discussing the importance of a diverse and equal workplace, you can communicate how important the audit’s results are, and the significance of any recommendations it makes.
- Create a safe environment to speak out
If members of a particular equality group have experienced prejudice or discrimination in the past, they may feel wary of being involved in the process and speaking out. However, for an equality audit to be successful, a safe and open environment must be created so that they can explain the difficulties they have faced in confidence.
Make it clear that the audit is taking place to make improvements, and that speaking out will help contribute to a more welcoming and inclusive workplace in the future.
- Don’t be tempted to cover up
If problems are identified during your equality audit, don’t be tempted to cover them up to make your organisation look better.
The aim of the audit is to understand the current situation so that improvements can be made, where necessary. If difficulties are masked, the audit will fail to create a better, more inclusive workspace and will be simply ineffective.
- Have a system for communication
Throughout the process of conducting your equality audit, good communication with employees and stakeholders is vital. At the beginning and at the end of the audit, develop a mechanism, preferably getting your Communication Dept on board, during the developmental stage of your audit. Ensure that you or your Communication Dept. publishes the outcomes, and any new policies, or procedures that you have planned as a result of your equality audit.
About Beverley Powell
Beverley Powell is a UK certified Life Coach and A Diversity Manager for the NHS . She was nationally recognised in 2014 by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) as one of the top 50 BME Pioneers for her work around strategic inclusion within the National Health Service (NHS).
Beverley has also been recognised by NHS Employers 2014 for her work on strategically embedding Diversity through the workforce and in particular her work around the Transgender agenda.
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