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Culture Audit for Community 

Let's Talk About Race 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice in Community Organizations

 

Why Conduct an Organization’s Culture Audit? 

 

  • A cultural assessment (audit) in an organization might start by looking at internal processes as much as outcomes. 

  • Look at decision-making: 

  • Who are the decision-makers? 

  • What information do decision-makers get and from whom?  Which voices or sources of information are given credence? 

  • What perspectives get the most credence? 

  • What information gets devalued in the process? 

  • How are decisions communicated? 

  • What are the impact of current decision-making? 

  • How does the impact vary by race/ethnicity within or outside the organization among groups whose lives the organization affects?  

In doing these audits, it is useful to look at the existence and impact of white culture.  

 

Your organization is your community.  It is where you work or spend much of your time.    Your organizations’ managers and coworkers know what to do when something needs to change; they gather together a group to analyze data, create a plan, and initiate professional development, yet they are disappointed with little changes. Often that is because they look at behavior to change but may fail to take into account the overall culture of the organization. More than individual behavior, an organization’s culture reflects the values, traditions, assumptions, as well as overall behavior patterns present in the organization.  Directors, supervisions, line staff,  everyone. 

 

An organization's culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization. This culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.  Unlike the organizational climate, its culture considers the most deeply held beliefs about the organization. The pressure to change an organizations’ culture can be uncomfortable and may produce uncertainty and unpredictability in employees. To effect positive change in organizational culture, how it works, and how it needs to improve the culture may be considered by an audit. An audit asks questions about the organizations’ beliefs and assumptions about management and is a powerful way to bring about change. Conducting a cultural audit helps assess current culture and develop a shared commitment to a high-quality organizational experience for every employee and member.

 

There are two primary reasons to look at your current culture: 

1. Your current culture seems optimistic, but you want to improve.  You want to create a culture that will best support your organizations’ goals; understanding the contemporary culture is the first step to determine what to keep and what to change.

2. You already believe your current culture is damaged and hurting your organizations’ efforts, and you want to take steps to understand why. Damaged cultures are characterized by negativity, complaining, underachievement, less-than-positive relationships, leadership that fails to respect people, low levels of trust, a lack of volunteerism, low contribution of discretionary energy, and usually, in reasonable economic times, high turnover. 

Organizations where employees and members feel they belong, where there’s respect, where they support each other’s successes, and where their talents are harnessed and celebrations are enjoyed, are places where people want to be and work, and where morale is high and staff turnover is low.

Inclusion: Are staff and membersinvited to actively participate in all aspects of your organizational life?

 

Belonging: Belonging is a critical component of inclusion. When staff/members are genuinely included, they perceive that the school cares about them as individuals, their authentic selves. Community members should have the confidence and support to contribute their unique perspectives to all aspects of school life.

 

Organizations can only benefit from diversity if all community members feel they genuinely belong, feel entirely safe, and have the confidence to be themselves and say what they are thinking.

 

How to conduct a culture audit?  

 

A culture audit requires typically various methods to assess the current state of the culture in your organization. 

 

To assess your culture, you can use, 

 

• Culture walks, observation in the organization; A useful way of identifying the culture of an organization is to walk around the hallways.

• Culture interviews or focus groups of staff/members

• individual employee/member culture interviews;

• Culture surveys often developed internally based on collected information; and 

• Commercially available instruments. 

 

All require listening—carefully and with commitment—with both eyes and ears. We will work with you to determine the appropriate approach and components for your organization based on discussion and your prior experiences. More damaged cultures may call for outside intervention, especially if the internal employees have little trust in their leaders.  Diane Wong Consulting has a full conflict resolution team to help with this and educators to help build curriculum  But even a positive culture may benefit from an outsider's outlook and observations. It is possible to overlook critical cultural components because you are too close to your situation.