4 Disability-Inclusive Methods to Attract Diverse New Hires to Your Business

As a business owner, attracting top talent is always a priority. But when it comes to attracting diverse populations — including workers with disabilities — many companies need to work a little harder. Appealing to professionals with disabilities is one thing; delivering on those promises is another. With these methods from TI Verbatim, your company can begin reaping the benefits of a diverse workforce while offering competitive perks to prospective employees.

Tick All Housekeeping Boxes

Before bringing on any new staff, ensure that your organization is ready to fulfill all its legal obligations. Although many employers have a basic understanding of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the nondiscrimination policies of other federal employment laws protecting individuals with disabilities are often less familiar. There are actually five federal laws addressing disability employment and job application rights:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Rehabilitation Act
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
  • Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act
  • Civil Service Reform Act


Expand Work from Home Opportunities

Working from home is an appealing job perk for many workers, not solely those with disabilities. To ensure that remote work is a benefit and not a pitfall, set your team up for work-at-home success before sending them to their home offices.

Consider equipment and adjustments your team may need to support remote work, including assistive devices for workers that require them. Confirm that your company website, employee-facing applications, and workplace materials are accessible and compatible with assistive technology to ensure success.

Additionally, a work environment is more welcoming if employers think ahead to address workers’ needs versus a worker with a disability having to inquire about accommodations.

Advertise Your Accessible and Inclusive Culture

After adjusting your job openings and checking the boxes for accessibility and inclusivity, it’s time to promote your business. Showcase the benefits you offer through transparent hiring processes, social media activity, and traditional marketing methods.

All policies should be up-front, and applicants should know from the outset that you welcome diversity and support accommodations. In terms of outreach, your company’s social media ads can feature your entire team, including those with disabilities (visible or otherwise).

Traditional marketing methods like newsletters and brochures can also serve as channels for pitching potential new hires. For example, developing recruiting documents for new applicants is a convenient way to share information. For a document in any format, make things easier on yourself by using a PDF doc converter to switch to PDF format and be 508 compliant. PDFs are easy to manage and edit, too.

Innovate with Internship Opportunities

Companies in every industry benefit from a diverse workforce. Research confirms that diversity and inclusion in the workplace open companies up to a larger talent pool, boosts engagement and trust, and often increases profits. One way to ensure a consistent influx of new ideas and perspectives is by implementing an internship program.

Creating a well-planned internship program expands your applicant pool and creates mutually beneficial working relationships for employers and employees. It helps employees gain skills and employers receive qualified short-term labor. To engage and promote internship opportunities within the disabled community, consider working with organizations such as the National Business & Disability Council, which maintains a database of postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are seeking summer jobs and permanent employment.

Expanding your hiring efforts to include professionals with disabilities can’t happen overnight. There are laws and guidelines to follow and many considerations to make for accommodations in both technology and your workspace. With this guide, you can start working toward an inclusive and engaging work environment that will attract and retain the most qualified professionals for the job.

TIVC believes any successful workplace has a human-first approach, and we are dedicated to helping people work better together. Questions? We’d love to hear from you!

I worked as a public affairs officer for the Department of Defense (DoD) for over ten years. The goal of public affairs is to educate and inform the American people, build and maintain a good reputation for the agency, influence public policy, and develop good relations with stakeholders. I worked with thousands of military and civilian leaders and personnel over the years, and sadly most of them were unaware of the importance of public affairs to the command’s mission effectiveness as well as to their own work and even job security.


Public affairs officers (PAOs) or specialists have many roles to fill—journalist, editor, event coordinator, script writer, media trainer, outreach coordinator, crisis communicator, graphic designer and much more. They must be creative in their efforts as strategic communications is constantly evolving. But creative attempts within the government are often confined because employees are so often trained on what not to say rather than what they can say and why they should be talking more.


“Too often, subject matter experts (SMEs) or even leadership do not want to engage with PAOs as it is presumed that we are direct representatives of the news media rather than of the command. We do not pass everything we know to media, most especially sensitive or classified information. Our job is to fully understand the command’s mission and tasks and communicate that information to our various audience—primarily the American public,” said retired active duty Navy PAO and current Navy civilian Public Affairs Specialist Captain Joseph F. Gradisher, USN (Ret).


The U.S. government employs 1.8M civilians with over 676K working for the DoD and an additional 1.4M active duty members. Each person is contributing to the growth and development and protection of our great nation in their individual roles. And while most of these jobs are clerical or administrative, many of them support unique missions, including the conservation of wildlife, promoting peace with the Foreign Service, manufacturing and distributing coin, providing weather forecasting, preserving heritage with the Smithsonian Institute and so much more.


What you know about each of these organizations can be directly attributed to the efforts of each units’ Public Affairs/Communications Office. What you don’t know about government operations can be attributed to one of two reasons. The classification of a project could be above secret clearance. Most people tend to lean more towards this dramatic reasoning. However, from my experience as a government communications specialist, it’s more probable that Public Affairs Peter couldn’t get Scientist Susan to return his emails or phone calls about her really cool geology project and pictures from the field were not formatted correctly and pixelated leading to an unmarketable product.


“No one knows the work better than our SMEs. The PAO cannot be expected to know the details of what everyone in a command is focused on.  Rather, it is our job to talk to the SMEs, and help find ways to translate their technical jargon into plain English so the audience can better understand the issue. It is the partnership of the SMEs and PAOs that will most benefit the command and the audience,” said Gradisher.


Getting people to communicate with the communicators is a constant struggle. We often receive pushback because personnel feel it’s a waste of time or even against the rules to be interviewed or write about their special project. They often have the mentality of “I’m doing a good job at the work I signed on for, why do I have to do this ‘extra’ work?” or “I have a secret clearance so that means I’m not supposed to talk about any of my work.”


In reality, it could actually benefit you and your colleagues to share more with your public affairs office. Public affairs specialists act as unofficial lobbyists on behalf of their organizations. They sometimes do this by working with government officials directly on issues of public concern. But most often they do it indirectly by communicating the great work of the organization through different mediums to maintain a good reputation and ensure long-term support and success.


For example, when the creation of U.S. Africa Command was announced in February 2007, it “faced intense scrutiny and criticism throughout its early days.” Stakeholders included the DoD, USAID, African regional and national governments, U.S. Congress and the armed services staffing and funding the command. Some key concerns the communications team faced included distrust of Western powers given the U.S.’s colonial past with Europe and the invasion of Iraq, lack of consultation with African leaders before making the announcement and underestimating the overall change in overseas military programs, among other challenges. The communications team worked wonders through building messaging based on the importance of African partnership, leadership speeches and talking points, keeping everyone informed with internal meetings and external communication mediums, involving stakeholders in the construction process and many other tactics. “By September 2007, they had developed a very strong rapport… Many were Africanists who strongly believed in the idea of the command and wanted to see the DoD put more priority on African issues.” These efforts resulted in a formal establishment ceremony held in October 2008, and attended by U.S. ambassadors to Africa, German officials, State Department officials and USAID. (Galvin, 2019)


Public Affairs is part of your organization and most times can be directly linked to public acknowledgement of your overall success. They should not be treated as undercover spies trying to extract secret information or outcasts attempting to slow your work. They have a job to do and that is to advocate for your position and the organization you work for. So, take some time out of your busy schedule, offer them a chair and an introspective look at your work, and allow them to make magic with their little notebooks and pencils and exceptionally creative campaigns and messaging. The results will make all the difference for your organization.


TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, W.Va. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation. Contact us today at marketing@tiverbatim.com for all your strategic communications needs.



Galvin, Thomas P. (2019) Two Case Studies of Successful Strategic Communications Campaigns. U.S. Army War College Press.

Often times, clients use the terms: study, culture assessment and evaluation interchangeably. It’s accurate that there is overlap between some or all of them, but there are important distinctions which should be highlighted to communicate clearly, avoid confusion and manage expectations.



Research Studies


To begin, the goal of a research study is to create new, generalizable knowledge that is reproducible and applicable elsewhere in similar contexts. Studies are typically conducted within the realm of higher education or specialized fields. Some studies involve the use of the scientific method, namely, testing a hypothesis by manipulation of variables called an intervention, and others are focused on developing a theory supported by scientific evidence.

One simple example would be if a research team at a university would like to identify the top five indicators for employee burnout in the tech industry. The research team would have to collect data from numerous tech companies and have a sample size that is large enough and representative of the general population of the location they are targeting (city, county, state, region, country). This enables their findings to be applicable to and reproducible within other companies in the tech field (not included in their sample) with probable similar findings.

Research studies are meant to be peer reviewed by other academics and then published. This type of review holds the study, particularly the methodology, to a very high degree of scrutiny. In this context, reliability, validity and statistical significance is very important. If the study involves human subjects, even though low-risk activities like interviews or observations, then there are strict rules which need to be adhered to and usually require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. This is different from an assessment or evaluation.



Culture Assessments


The goal of a culture assessment is to gather information from one particular group, organization or company to better understand the collective opinions, beliefs, views, feelings and behaviors regarding the norms, rules, regulations, policies and processes of the group. The collected aggregation of this information is utilized to identify gaps, better understand workforce perceptions and ultimately identify ways to optimize culture.

Culture assessments and research studies are both learning processes, but they are not held to the same academic level of scrutiny and serve distinct purposes. In a culture assessment the focus is not only statistical significance but also the practical significance of the findings.

Another important consideration is that culture assessments, even when they follow the exact same methodology rarely yield the same results from one organization to the next, even if they are in the same industry. This is due to variations such as demographic distribution, geographic location and different customs. The findings from a cultural assessment are designed to identify areas the need for course correction and to gather additional information to optimize culture. Culture assessments are diagnostic in nature and can lead to further formulation or refinement of research study questions or areas of improvement for later evaluation.





In addition, some organizations conduct evaluations. Evaluations are judgmental in nature. They involve the comparison of data against a standard for the purpose of determining the value, utility or extent to which objectives are met. Evaluations are summative conclusions of a product, project or program based on evidence collected. Whereas cultural assessments are diagnostic, evaluations are prescriptive. Evaluations will determine how well, or if, certain criteria meet standards and what improvements need to be made. Evaluations are done so that the person or organization being evaluated can understand how they measure up.

In our tech example, an evaluation would be the comparison of the percentage of employees who are burned out in one company to other companies in the same industry. This gives the evaluated company the metrics of whether they are performing better, worse or about the same as others. Evaluations can also be used to formulate or refine research study questions and conduct further assessments.



TIVC provides expertise in conducting cultural assessments, which aim to determine what’s working, what’s not working and what’s missing in an organizational environment. The tools used to collect data for research studies, assessments and evaluations can have considerable overlap, but it’s important to remember that it is the purpose for which the data is collected that is a primary distinction.

At TIVC, surveys, focus groups and interviews are some of the strategies used to collect insights into the inner nature of an organization. These methodologies provide a window into the attitudes and behavior of an organization, which can then be evaluated against existing organizational policies to determine if there is alignment between policies and practice.

TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, W.Va. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.



Huitt, W., Hummel, J., & Kaeck, D. (2001). Assessment, measurement, evaluation, and research. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/intro/sciknow.html

Levy, J. (2017). How to Differentiate Assessment, Evaluation, and Research. Presence: A Modern Campus Company. Retrieved from:  https://www.presence.io/blog/how-to-differentiate-assessment-evaluation-research/

McGillin, V. (2003). Research versus assessment: What’s the difference? Academic Advising Today26(4). Retrieved from: https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Research-versus-Assessment-Whats-the-Difference.aspx#:~:text=While%20research%20focuses%20on%20the,or%20decision%2Dmaking%20and%20budgeting

Surbhi, S. (2017). Difference Between Assessment and Evaluation. Key Differences. Retrieved from: https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-assessment-and-evaluation.html

When I worked in the corporate world, I worked for an amazing Fortune 200 company that now ranks in the 100 best companies to work for in the world. They tried to launch an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program for over 20 years but had been unsuccessful. Why was is it so difficult to get the ERG program off the ground? A large part of the problem lay in a lack of understanding of what constitutes an ERG. ERG groups are often confused with Affinity Groups, but Affinity Groups do not have a business case to exist. They operate within a very informal framework and are too often used as forums for socialization and airing complaints. They lack the methodology, framework and metrics ERGs provide.


So, what are best practices for establishing an ERG?

  1. Make sure championing leadership understands the difference between an Affinity Group and an ERG. Unlike Affinity Groups, ERGs have a business reason to exist and are held accountable to show results. ERGs have metrics that measure attracting, developing and retaining talent. Convincing leadership of a business case may be a marathon that could take months, but the difference is notable.
  2. Make the Executive Diversity Council (EDC) report directly to the CEO. The Council should be the overarching governing body for the program. ERG should not reside under Human Resources.
  3. Once formed, the ERG should run like a business. It should have a business plan chair (CEO), a co-chair (VP) and focus area leads for developing and attracting talent. Clear measurable goals should be established by working in conjunction with stakeholders, talent and development and human resources. Do not come up with a business plan in a silo—work with stakeholders to focus on initiatives that align to the vision and goals.
  4. Secure a budget. If this is important to company leaders, they will make an effort to ensure you have funds for initiatives.
  5. Report results no less than twice a year to the EDC to continue to get buy-in.
  6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Leaders and employees need to hear that you are running a program that is making a difference and not using company resources to run a social club. Make sure everyone understands what ERGs are, and that although they are focused on a specific ethnic group everyone is welcome join.
  7. If you are not able to get an entire program approved, start with a pilot program to test the ERG concept for a year.


Collaboration is key. I worked with an amazing female senior vice president who was committed to this initiative and always had my back. Together, we worked with the EDC, company leaders and employees to socialize and launch an initial pilot program of two ERGs. Eight years later this amazing company has a formal ERG program with eight employee resource groups.


TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, W.Va. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.


Do you need help creating an ERG? Contact us at info@tiverbatim.com.

Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient


Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and regulate one’s own emotions, as well as those of others, to guide one’s thinking and actions (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). It is often referred to as Emotional Quotient or EQ, and has been increasing in public and professional spheres since the 1990s. It was introduced by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer and further researched by numerous other psychologists, including Daniel Goleman. These researchers attest that all individuals possess the capacity to harness their emotional states to improve thinking, judgement and behavior (Brackett, Delaney & Salovey, 2022). This would be great, but does EQ matter in the workplace?



EQ in the Workplace


We are human, we have emotions. We sometimes experience a myriad of emotions in one day or even in one hour. Emotions are the bedrock of relationships, personal and professional; performance; health; and potentially, the impetus for decision-making. If emotions are a fundamental part of who we are, how can we use them to facilitate logical thought processes and behaviors?

Imagine you arrive to work. Everything is as usual, and you place your things down on your desk. You sit down and take a sip of coffee. In the quiet hours of the morning, you’re ready to turn on your computer and respond to emails. You have about 30 minutes of peace, and then your co-workers filter in. They seem a bit excited this morning, as it’s Friday and they’re ready for weekend festivities. They are conversing about plans for the weekend while putting their things down, turning on their computers, making coffee, putting their lunch in the community refrigerator; and the buzz of the office begins. One co-worker, whom you work closely with, seems a bit frantic and more hurried than usual. He comes over to your desk to give you some files to revise for a project that is due by the end of the day. He knocks over your coffee. It spills over your keyboard and onto your lap. What are your immediate thoughts? Chances are, they’re probably not positive. Would you share those thoughts out loud in the moment?

Emotional intelligence would dictate that even though you feel angry, frustrated, annoyed or any other combination of sentiments, you don’t have to act upon them immediately. By acting immediately, you would be reacting to the emotions and lacking in a rational thought process. Looking back at the example above, if you chose to say your thoughts out loud, you may regret being so harsh when you find that your co-worker needed to leave immediately because of a family emergency.  It could potentially damage the relationship and the dynamic within the team and hinder progress on projects. In one study, “Emotional Intelligence was associated with enhanced performance indicators such as company rank, percent merit increase, ratings of interpersonal facilitation and affect and attitudes at work” (Lopes, Grewal, Kadis, Gall & Salovey, 2006). It’s evident that efforts to increase EQ in the workplace lead to better overall performance.

High emotional intelligence is also correlated to the social interactions of transformational leadership, where “leaders are able to motivate, influence, guide and empower followers to achieve organizational goals” (Bass & Riggio, 2006). By identifying and managing your emotions to facilitate logical thinking, you are harnessing your EQ. You are choosing to foster a more positive relationship with your co-worker, hence building trust, empathy, patience and kindness. It is also important to note that emotional intelligence includes the identification and management of others’ emotions. This is done through reading body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Is your co-worker remorseful and apologetic? Is the apology authentic? What does their body language say? Use those cues to produce an appropriate response. After all, would anger, frustration and annoyance toward your colleague serve you and your team best?


How can you improve your EQ?


Having high emotional intelligence is a key indicator for success individually as well as for organizations. Think about which organization might perform better—one whose employees and leaders shout and blame or one whose employees and leaders stay in control of their emotions and respond calmly. Cultivation of EQ leads to more productive, supportive and healthy experiences, but it takes time, mindfulness and, above all, practice. Fortunately, there are some steps we can follow:

  • Practice self-awareness. Try to notice what you are feeling, when and why. When you experience a strong emotion, slow down and take a deep breath. Assess why you are feeling that way.
  • Practice self-regulation. Think about a response that would be most advantageous in that situation. Is expressing anger going to get the result you want? If not, which expression of sentiment should you demonstrate to achieve the best possible outcome?
  • Practice empathy. Put yourself in someone else’s position, pay attention to body language and respond to their feelings. If you hear disappointment in someone’s voice, acknowledge it. This is vital to gain trust and respect from others. It is also more likely that this will be reciprocated for you in the future, thereby improving the relationship.
  • Communicate respectfully. Think about the end goal or resolution to a situation. How can you most effectively get there? Make sure to choose words that do not blame or condescend. Also be mindful of your tone because delivery is just as important as the message.




Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.) Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Brackett, M., Delaney, S., & Salovey, P. (2022). Emotional intelligence. In R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba textbook series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF publishers. Retrieved from http://noba.to/xzvpfun7

Lopes, P. N., Grewal, D., Kadis, J., Gall, M., & Salovey, P. (2006). Evidence that emotional intelligence is related to job performance and affect and attitudes at work. Psicothema, 18(Suppl.), 132–138

Psychology Today. (2022). Sussex Publishers, LLC. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/emotional-intelligence

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J.D. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) transverses all aspects of our society. Government and commercial organizations and schools have started focusing on building DEI strategies and implementing DEI focused programs. In June 2021, the White House signed an Executive Order promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce. But what is meant when we speak of equity and how does it differ from equality?


Equality refers to giving everyone the exact same resources or opportunities; whereas equity calls for fair and impartial distribution of resources or opportunities based on the needs of the recipients. When we speak or promote DEI, the narrative regarding inclusion, equality and fairness is a common theme, but equity is overlooked and substituted with equality.


The lack of equity is closely related to the differential treatment of minorities. This differential treatment is not only observable in the work environment, but we also see issues of diversity and lack of equity and inclusion in sports. An analysis of DEI in The Recreational Sports Journal recognizes the growth of diversity in sports and the responsibility to tend to the needs of diverse students (French & Cardinal, 2021). The article suggests going beyond equality and moving into an equitable space to ensure sports recognize diversity and provide programs accessible to all.


There are also issues with equity within the healthcare industry. The lack of access to healthcare and other existing disparities led to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aimed at ensuring equitable access to care and avoiding disparity in treatment within diverse populations (Watson, 2011).


Equity also plays a role in the administration of justice. Implicit bias affects routine traffic stops, police wellness checks and court sentencing. This biased baseline sheds some light as to why our criminal justice system, although touted as fair, just and equal, has some very disproportionate and disparate results skewed against certain groups.


Equity can lead to equality, but not the other way around. When developing DEI strategies and programs it is important to do the work to understand the limitations and barriers that may be preventing equality. To address the inequalities in our society it is not sufficient to just throw more equality into the mix. Organizations, processes and systems require an impartial assessment to look into the root causes of the imbalance so that the proposed solution provides equity and eventually equality.


TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, WV. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.



French, M.T. and Cardinal, B.J. (2021, April 1). Content Analysis of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.  Recreational Sports Journal, 69-77.

Watson, S. D. (2011). Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act: Civil Rights, Health Reform, Race, and Equity. Howard Law Journal, 55(3), 855–886.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy?

Before I started TI Verbatim Consulting (TIVC), I worked for the corporate world and vividly remember being asked to provide a business case for allocating funds towards DEI. This is still happening today, even with all the research supporting the many benefits of DEI, including enriching an organization’s identity, enhancing employee engagement, and increasing positive customer experiences and company revenue.


Oftentimes, even when DEI is socialized and money is invested, the program is built around symbolic activities that achieve very little. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chili cook off and diversity fairs and appreciate the social bonding they provide. But these types of events should only be executed as celebratory occasions that are a product of a successful DEI strategy and execution. A purposeful and meaningful DEI strategy requires time and commitment that is championed by all layers of the organization.


When a company or organization commits to developing a thoughtful and thorough DEI strategy, the following tactics should be a part of the execution strategy:

  1. Top-Down Buy-In. It should always start at the top. If leadership is not vocalizing the business case, the commitment required for success is not there. Without clear messaging from leadership there will be no accountability.
  2. DEI Should Not Report to Human Resources. If you are serious about DEI, the program should belong to and report to directly to the CEO. Human Resources should never be responsible for the development and implementation of the DEI program.
  3. Create an Executive Diversity Council (EDC). The EDC should be made up of senior leadership. In larger organizations, it should be compromised of senior officers from all business units. The EDC reports directly to the CEO and should be instrumental in the development and implementation of the DEI strategy.
  4. Create Departmental or Business Unit Diversity Councils. These should be made up of the workforce and led by mid-level leaders who will support and socialize the strategic DEI goals and program implementation.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Remember if the workforce doesn’t see it or hear about it—it doesn’t exist. The more you communicate DEI goals and benefits, the more employees will support it.
  6. Create Accountability. Develop metrics for all goals and objectives and hold leaders accountable.
  7. Continuously Assess and Make Refinements. Monitoring progress and setbacks allows for adjustments where needed to ensure overall success.


Organizational investment and commitment into attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce based on measurable goals and objectives will ensure accountability and set up a solid framework for strategy development. Tactics may include the development of a new onboarding program, instituting an intern program, launching employee resources groups or making a commitment to increase recruiting at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


DEI strategies fail because they are created in a silo, don’t incorporate the workforce, leadership is not fully committed or the process is rushed. Creating and sustaining a DEI program is a marathon, not a sprint—it requires proper training and preparation and full dedication and support.


TIVC’s mission is to help people work better together, and we are a proven leader in Human Enterprise Optimization recognizing that people are an organization’s greatest assets. TIVC was founded by Jean Payne in 2014. It is a CVE-certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business headquartered in Charles Town, WV. We have current and former contracts with government and commercial customers across the nation.

A culture assessment is the examination of shared beliefs, attitudes and behaviors in the workplace. It is how a group of individuals view the application of policies, process, procedures, treatment from leadership and workplace interactions. Culture assessments use a qualitative and quantitative approach to find what is working, what is not working and what is missing. At TIVC, our cultural assessments follow a very specific methodology that begins with a survey.



What is the purpose of a survey?


Surveys should be used as “a check engine light.” In a car, the check engine light advises the driver there is an issue and that further investigation is warranted. Similarly, preliminary survey results do not tell us what root causes may exist but that further investigation may be needed. Surveys are not tools to determine that a culture or an individual is toxic.



How organizations sometimes use surveys and how surveys should be used


A common trend we see is the use of survey, generic climate assessment or initial culture assessment results being used in lieu of investigating workplace misconduct. Assessment results used in this way are, at best, a blunt instrument because results are an unfinished work. Experts in this field know that surveys and initial assessment results tell an incomplete story. The surveys and initial assessment results might tell us the “what,” but they do not tell us the “why.” Surveys should be used to point experts in the right direction to begin to get to the “why.” Understanding the “why” requires an investigatory process that includes focus groups, interviews, observations and a review of records, policies, procedures and reports. This process is required to evaluate the alignment between, people, policies and procedures and gain a complete understanding of organizational culture. Getting to the “why” ultimately leads to positive culture sustainability.



When organizations confuse survey results with performance related outcomes


What happens when surveys and initial assessment results are misused to explain an employee dismissal? This misuse creates association bias, where organizations and individuals associate the tool with real issues within the organization. The use of the right language to explain the reason for workplace dismissal should not include survey results, poor climate or bad culture.

Surveys and initial assessment results alone should not result in employee dismissal. However, unprincipled leadership, lack of accountability and irredeemable bias, prejudice and discrimination should.


A hostile work environment, a demonstrated lack of leadership and accountability issues are examples of appropriate terms to use for discipline or termination. Because when an organization uses the surveys and initial assessment results as a reason for dismissal, the organization becomes victim-focused, tying the survey to the reason for termination. The cause of an employee dismissal should be focused on the employee’s actions and not the culture as it was revealed in the survey.

Organizations that address performance issues early in their occurrence and provide opportunities for deficient employees to learn and grow do not fire employees, but eventually the employees may fire themselves by persisting in toxic behavior detrimental to the culture of the organization. Surveys and initial assessment results are merely the toxic behavior’s effect and should not be the cause of dismissal.




Daniel, T. A., & Metcalf, G. S. (2015). Crossing the line: An examination of toxic leadership in the US Army. The Leadership Quarterly, 32(1), 118-227.

Davis Winkie and Meghann Myers, 2021, Top Army Spokesperson suspended after abysmal climate survey. https://www.armytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2021/09/22/top-army-spokesperson-suspended-after-abysmal-climate-survey/.

Erickson, A., Shaw, B., Murray, J., & Branch, S. (2015). Destructive leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 4(44), 266-272.

Jared Serbu, 2020, Army fires, disciplines 14 leaders for failed command climate at Fort Hood. https://federalnewsnetwork.com/army/2020/12/army-fires-disciplines-14-leaders-for-failed-command-climate-at-fort-hood/.

Reed, G. E. (2015). Tarnished: Toxic leadership in the US military. U of Nebraska Press.