Organizational Culture


Organizational culture is the expression of an organization's collective values, beliefs, and behaviors. Organizational culture in connection with inclusiveness refers to an organization's collective values, beliefs, and behaviors in relation to racial and ethnic groups.

Organizational culture is expressed at three core levels:

  • Surface Level: the physical environment and the symbols, language, and visible products created by the organization.
  • Espoused Values: the values of the leadership (which may or may not have been effectively realized by the rest of the organization) in relation to goals and strategies.
  • Basic Assumptions: the beliefs, perceptions, and thoughts that are conscious and unconscious but are integral to the way the organization functions.1

Here are some specific ways in which these levels may be viewed using an inclusiveness lens:

Surface Level: Inclusive organizations create physical environments that are welcoming to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds; they use inclusive language; and their written materials use inclusive images and language that speak to people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Espoused Values: The leaders of inclusive organizations believe strongly in developing goals and strategies that address the assets and needs of communities of color at a programmatic level.

Basic Assumptions: Inclusive organizations integrate an awareness of the assets and needs of communities of color into everything they do. Their core values include a belief that everyone has a powerful contribution to make within the organization. The extent to which an organization's basic assumptions include a commitment to inclusiveness is fundamental to the foundation of an organization's culture. (Stupak, Ronald J., Symposium on Organizational Culture: Theory Practice and Cases, summarizing Schein, Edgar H. (1985). Organizational Culture and Leadership, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass (pg. 6) 


Examples of Organizational Cultures Related to Diversity and Inclusiveness     Discrimination and Fairness Culture: Assimilation     Connecting Diversity to Work Perspectives: IntegrationCreating a More Inclusive Organizational Culture