Assessment Tools for Organizational Culture

A strong, positive organizational culture promotes inclusion of persons from diverse backgrounds.
A strong, positive organizational culture promotes inclusion of persons from diverse backgrounds. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Organizations with strong, positive cultures tend to demonstrate strong work ethic, good leadership and team cohesion; others have conflict, stress and performance issues. Human resource management and diversity professionals use assessment tools to help them understand the relationship between human capital, diversity and organizational performance.

Archival Method

The concept of inclusion describes the degree to which an organization allows others to penetrate their culture and embrace the change in dynamics that results from expanded membership. In the archival method, researchers analyze the organizational artifacts (annual reports, standard operating procedures, advertisements and other documents) to determine indications of its belief system and values. Data is collected, organized, categorized, and summarized to make decisions about diversity interactions, teamwork and overall performance and inequities.

Key Informants

Individual interviews with executive management and members of the leadership team are called key informants sessions. These engagements can help an assessor develop a timeline of key events that define or changed the culture of the organization. They can also identify those individuals deemed pioneers or change agents within the organization that further enrich or promote inclusion and resolve challenges and obstacles.

Focus Groups

Focus groups are similar to information sessions; however the interviews are conducted with a small team of persons known as an identity group. Ideally these groups are randomly selected with representation of diverse culture and conducted in settings that are neutral and safe for freedom of expression as well as lack of intimidation and risk of personal or professional retaliation. The goal is to collect data about interactions, events and perceptions that define the organization’s culture and extent of inclusion. After data are collected, a summary of the findings should be reviewed with the team to ensure the information accurately reflects the intent, positioning and perspective intended.


Surveys are a less interactive intervention that achieves similar results as the other tools. Breckenridge Institute reports that surveys can reveal a number of signs that demonstrate misalignment between an organization’s objectives and its culture. These include factors such as excessive complexity, bureaucracy, poor decision making skills and misunderstood business environments. Surveys can be used with an entire organization, work groups or functional teams to reveal strengths, weaknesses, and factors influencing inclusion efforts.

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