Assessing Your Culture

USRowing

Often when I am out working with a college or university I am asked, “How do I know if I am meeting the diversity and inclusion needs of my players, staff, etc?  And, if I am not meeting their needs, how am I supposed to know what they are?”

Asking this question is a critical first step toward conducting an institutional analysis.  There are no simple answers to these questions.  Those in power will often turn to their inner circles to check in and see how things are going within the organization.  The problem with this is that people who are very much like us already usually surround us.  These conversations are often unproductive because we fail to see beyond our own scope.  We conclude that everything is fine.  We forget that we don’t know, what we don’t know.  The only way to truly understand your organization is to conduct an informal or formal analysis.

Institutional analyses can take a variety of different forms.  But the main things to keep in mind are these:

  1. Got beyond simple proportionality
  2. Understand there is a critical difference between quantitative diversity and the more qualitative diversity and inclusion (numbers versus the quality of the experiences)
  3. Examine the deeper structures of diversity and inclusion within the workplace
  4. Explore how and why the organization acts in certain ways focusing specifically on the taken-for-granted power and political structures within it

The follow-up questions regarding this suggestion usually deal with the “How’s.”  How am I going to be able to conduct this kind of analysis?  This is the point at which we need to start connecting athletics with the broader institutional and community cultures and resources.  Nearly all colleges and universities have psychology and sociology departments, if not, exercise science or kinesiology programs.  Connect with the faculty members of these departments.  See if they would be willing to undertake this as a research project for themselves or their students.  Not only will this allow a deep and thorough analysis to be completed free of charge, it will bridge an often present gap between academics and athletics on campus.

Finally, remember to avoid the most damaging mistake of all…once you have the data in hand, critically reflect on it and then DO SOMETHING WITH IT!  Do not leave student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and faculty members with the impression that you don’t care about the results.  Collecting data and implementing change in necessary to show people that you are willing to make things different.  Good luck!

On November 17th, 2015, posted in: BEST PRACTICES

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