Diversity, Inclusion, and Organizational Culture

It is never too early or too late to think about the organizational culture that you work in. While we live in the 21st century and many of us claim to be “woke” and attune to the needs of our ever diversifying global community, the fact remains that few of us do more than express good intentions.

So where are the RECEIPTS?!

I mean really, ask yourself, when was the last time you and your co-workers or team members got together as a group and talked about the environment and organizational culture you want to create so that everyone feels that they can bring their whole and authentic selves to work? **Note: This assuming that this is your intention.**

As many of our Cite A Sista readers move through the ranks and secure high-level positions, I want to use this post to help frame our thinking and provide resources to start a conversation on organizational culture. Most of the following is what I shared with my staff as we began to think about the possibilities the new academic year could bring for us. I hope this post can inspire you to do the same for your group.


What is organizational culture?

Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings, interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid.

Why is organizational culture important?

  • Transition of leadership within our organizations
  • Increased diversity of social identity within organizations
  • Socio-political landscape of the U.S.
  • To remain current with industry trends
  • Important consideration for education and training
    • Education: building awareness and understanding.
    • Training: skill-building
  • Maintain competitive edge

Here is the 1, 2, 3 of assessing your organizational culture!

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With these assessment steps in mind, I wanted to offer some critical reflection questions for your consideration…

  1. What are the values, behaviors, and culture of your organization?
    • Where are these values stemming from? (ie. strategic planning, organization mission & vision, org. history, donors)
  1. What does diversity, inclusion, and/or social justice mean to your organization?
  2. How would you describe your current organizational culture?
    • What are the strengths of this culture?
    • What are the challenges of this culture?
  1. What needs have you identified for yourselves and the organization as a whole
    • What identities are highlighted or overly represented?
    • What identities are marginalized or underrepresented?
  1. In a perfect world, what would your vision be for your organization culture?
    • Are there any shifts that need to be made to achieve this culture?
    • What training elements are needed to promote this culture?
    • What are the behavioral markers of this ideal culture?
    • What is your plan for instilling the importance and role-modeling behaviors you have outlined?
  1. What are the performance elements that will ensure that these elements are embedded into the organizational structure?
    • What is your plan of action when students fall short of the expectation?
  1. What skills do you need as leaders of the organization to empower your staff to be inclusive?
  2. How do you plan to transition new leadership team members to ensure that this culture of inclusion is passed on?

As Black women continue to pursue and attain higher education degrees faster than any other demographic in the U.S. I expect us to do the same in the workplace. This means taking the necessary steps to be good leaders and facilitate strong office and organizational culture.

Taking time out to assess, and follow the guidelines presented here, should help you and/or your organization take a hard look in the proverbial mirror to determine if you  really are “about this life.” Are you doing what you say you’re doing? Answering these questions will provide receipts or proof that you are doing just that.


Fret not, if you find your organization needs work. Everything identified here may require you to shift your organizational practices, mission, vision, goals, and strategic plan to be in alignment with those values. Change can happen– but only if you let it. IT IS 2017 and the world is only going to become more diverse–for our non-Black readers out there perhaps this is the time to realize you cannot beat them, so YOU MUST JOIN THEM… Or suffer the consequences of failing to do so.

Have you thought about improving your office or workplace culture? Got questions? Got Answers?

Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think.

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