Your Go-to Internal Audit Checklist on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging

All organizations should maintain a robust Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) program that creates a workplace where employees feel valued, policies and processes are inclusive of all individuals, and potential applicants are treated equally and fairly. What makes a DEIB program effective will look different across organizations; and while many businesses have a program to some degree, to best enhance organizational performance, your DEIB initiatives should be reviewed by internal audit. Leveraging diverse perspectives fosters innovation and enables better decision making, but it’s not something that can be achieved overnight.

Key elements of an effective DEIB program include:

  • Strong support and active participation from leadership.
  • Clear policies promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
  • Regular training sessions on DEIB principles and practices.
  • Strategies to attract, hire and retain a diverse workforce.
  • Systems to measure progress and hold the organization accountable for DEIB goals.

Establishing and revisiting your DEIB program can be done successfully with the support of internal auditors. These professionals provide assurance over the success of the DEIB program, as this aligns with broader internal audit responsibilities. In performing an enterprise risk assessment, or an internal audit of your organizational operations, evaluating your DEIB program is a necessary component of this.

Internal controls ensure the integrity, accountability and continuous improvement of organization’s DEIB efforts. Internal audit plays a crucial role by testing these controls to measure the effectiveness of the DEIB program.

To support you in this process, below is a sample DEIB internal audit checklist. You can also download this in a fillable checklist at the bottom of this page.

This checklist should serve as a tool to aid in the internal audit process and should not be relied upon exclusively. Any internal audit should be customized to the organization and its unique risks.


  • Confirm that the organization reviews regulatory requirements in each jurisdiction, as DEIB program requirements can vary significantly due to local laws and regulations.
  • Ensure that the DEIB program aligns with these regulatory requirements.

Governance and Leadership

  • Confirm the existence of a formal DEIB policy.
  • Assess leadership’s commitment to DEIB initiatives.
  • Evaluate the tone from leadership and how they communicate with employees, stakeholders and regulators.
  • Review the roles and responsibilities of the DEIB governance committee.
  • Verify that DEIB goals are integrated into the organization’s strategic plan.
  • Check for the inclusion of DEIB objectives in leadership performance reviews.

Policy and Procedures

  • Review the DEIB policy for comprehensiveness and alignment with best practices.
  • Confirm there is a communication plan for the DEIB policy and that it is being followed.
  • Assess the accessibility of DEIB resources and information for employees.
  • Ensure the existence and enforcement of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Recruitment and Hiring

  • Evaluate the inclusivity of recruitment processes and practices.
  • Check for diversity in candidate pools at various stages of the hiring process.
  • Review the use of diverse hiring panels and standardized interview processes.
  • Analyze recruitment data for trends in hiring diverse candidates.

Training and Development

  • Review the content and frequency of DEIB training programs.
  • Verify that all employees are required to participate in DEIB training.
  • Assess the effectiveness of DEIB training through feedback and post-training evaluations.
  • Check the availability of specialized DEIB training for managers and leaders.

Promotion and Career Development

  • Evaluate the fairness and transparency of promotion processes.
  • Review the criteria for career advancement and ensure they are applied consistently.
  • Analyze promotion data to ensure diverse representation in leadership roles.
  • Check the accessibility of development opportunities for all employees.

Workplace Culture and Inclusion

  • Conduct surveys and interviews to evaluate employee perceptions of inclusion and belonging.
  • Review the effectiveness of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
  • Analyze employee feedback mechanisms regarding DEIB.
  • Evaluate initiatives designed to foster an inclusive workplace culture.

Metrics and Reporting

  • Review the metrics used to measure DEIB progress (e.g., workforce demographics, pay equity).
  • Assess the accuracy and comprehensiveness of DEIB data collection and analysis.
  • Verify the frequency and transparency of DEIB progress reporting to stakeholders.
  • Evaluate the organization’s performance in relation to its DEIB goals and targets.

Compliance and Risk Management

  • Confirm compliance with relevant diversity, equity and inclusion regulations.
  • Review procedures for handling DEIB-related complaints and incidents.
  • Conduct a risk assessment for potential DEIB-related issues.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies for DEIB.

Resource Allocation

  • Examine the budget designated for DEIB initiatives.
  • Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of resource utilization for DEIB programs.
  • Ensure there is sufficient funding and support for DEIB initiatives and ERGs.

External Engagement

  • Assess the organization’s involvement with diverse suppliers and community groups.
  • Review partnerships and collaborations aimed at advancing DEIB goals.
  • Evaluate the organization’s engagement in external DEIB initiatives and recognitions.

When following the steps outlined above, internal auditors can establish a framework for methodically assessing the various components of an organization’s DEIB program and conduct a comprehensive, unbiased evaluation. This process aids the organization in identifying strengths, revealing areas for improvement, and checking that DEIB initiatives are compliant, effective, and aligned to organizational values and objectives.

If your internal audit department would like to learn more about measuring the success of your DEIB program or what to consider when getting started, our experts on the Sikich Governance, Risk and Compliance team would be happy to assist you.

Download the fillable checklist here >>>

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