Appendix 2: Levels of Inclusion Assessment Tool

Read the statements below and check the box beside all statements that apply to your board.

The board is unaware that bias is an issue. BLUE 
There is some awkwardness or discomfort in interacting with people who are seen as ‘different’. BLUE 
Homogenous social groups are the norm. BLUE 
There is resistance to accommodating for people with disabilities because of the cost and because it disturbs the ‘norm’. BLUE 
There are no ‘out’ LGBTQ board members currently serving on the board. BLUE 
There is a welcoming atmosphere by some board members and a sense of curiosity by other board members about differences between people. Yellow
Most board members expect new board members to assimilate quickly into the board. For example, if the new member is an English language learner, they expect them to keep the same pace as everyone else. Yellow
There is a growing awareness that bias exists and that people are negatively impacted by it. There is intellectual struggle around what is ‘fair’ and how to ‘fix’ the problem. Yellow
There are occasional conversations on the board about the value of diversity. Yellow
You hear occasional statements in board conversations like “I’m colour-blind, I don’t see race.”; “Residential schools were horrible and I’m glad we’ve closed that chapter in Canada’s history. Now Aboriginal people need to move on.”; “Of course gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Just don’t throw your sexual practices in my face.” Yellow
Board members struggle on how to be inclusive and value differences on an interpersonal level. PINK  
There is confusion and discontent. Some board members resist change and keep the status quo; some feel guilty; some continue to question and be upset with leadership when they see practices that exclude some members. PINK  
Board members are beginning to see how structural inequality operates to negatively impact marginalized populations while maintaining benefits for the mainstream, maintaining systems of power and privilege. PINK  
Board members express a desire for more strategic conversation or education about difference, culture, inclusion or equity PINK  
There is a genuine desire to build inclusion but when conflict arises or board members are challenged on their behaviour, they may resist or retreat. PINK  
Board members understand that inclusion is about treating people fairly (equity) rather than the same (equality)
and strive to accommodate differences.
Training is available to increase board members’ skills and awareness. Orange
The majority of board members are aware of the value of all of the different board members and of the need for different histories and perspectives. Orange
There may be a few board members who question the need for so many different perspectives on the board (and the time it takes to incorporate all of these different ideas!). Orange
Board members who don’t come from identities that have historically held positions of power and privilege, don’t trust that they will be fully welcomed and included (and don’t expect it) Orange
All board members are seen as valuable members, they enrich and contribute to the governance of the organization. Green  
Diversity is the norm. Green  
Board members are willing to talk about difference and diversity to each other even when it is painful, uncomfortable, or brings challenging issues to light. Green  
All kinds of differences are respected and valued as opportunities for learning and problem solving, and board members have the skills and support to engage in hard conversations. Green  
Cultural change is embraced, with all board members accepting and articulating how and why diversity and
inclusion is integral to the organization’s success and wellbeing, and seeing them as everyone’s responsibility.


Tally the number that you checked in each category and write it in the box beside the corresponding part
BLUE  Yellow PINK   Orange Green  
Which box did you check the most boxes beside?

Look at the definition that corresponds to that section. Although you may have checked a few boxes in other categories, it is likely that this category is the place where your board is currently functioning. If you checked a similar number of boxes beside more than one section, this indicates that your board is in transition from one category to the next.

The purpose of this assessment tool is not to define your board, but rather gives you a place to begin a conversation with your board about how to continue to cultivate healthy practices and make changes where necessary to build a stronger culture of inclusion.


BLUE  Invisible

Diversity and difference are barely on the radar, and there is no recognition of the value that inclusion brings to the board or the organization. Overt or subtle discrimination is present. When a discriminatory incident happens, it may be minimized and there is no attempt at redress. Individuals who face discrimination must deal with any of its negative impacts without support. There is also the feeling of not being valued or respected. Individuals can feel that they don’t belong, and that their perspectives are not welcomed. There is a very entrenched/simplistic sense of who is seen as “normal” and who is seen as “different”.

Yellow Awareness

There is some effort made to welcome under-represented people onto your board, based on a belief that all people are equal and so should be given equal opportunities for participation. Discrimination is seen as somewhat important to address, but actions taken to address it lack adequate resources, do not happen consistently and are ad hoc.

PINK   Intentional inclusion

The board has made an official statement about the importance of inclusion and diversity, and a structural understanding of inclusion and inequity is being advanced in the formation of policies and procedures. Interventions are planned with the goal to incorporate more equitable practices and attitudes into the entire organization. People have made verbal commitments to inclusion work.

Orange Strategic inclusion

Long-term, broad-reaching strategic measures are taken to decrease barriers to participation for people who have long been marginalized, with the understanding that focusing energy on those with the most barriers is important for everyone. Strategies to transform processes that maintain systemic discrimination and provisions for measurement and accountability are in operation. Efforts are made to understand and address the root causes and systemic issues that lead to exclusion and marginalization. When discrimination happens there are policies and procedures in place to address them.

Green   Culture of inclusion

All layers of identity and difference are considered and supported, and systemic processes for maintaining inclusion are fully woven into the organization. The value of all people is a widely held value, and everyone is comfortable with and sees the benefits of diversity, so exclusionary incidents rarely happen[1]. Continuous improvement of inclusion is embedded within the organization. Inclusion is a way of life and all members are supported to reach their full potential.

  1. Please note: Building a culture in which exclusionary or discriminatory incidents rarely happen is very different than having a governance board culture where the people on the board with power and privilege are not aware that others are being excluded through language, structures or practices. A culture where exclusionary or discriminatory incidents rarely happen is not often a culture that forms organically.  Instead, it requires deliberate discussion and action often over an extended period of time.


Building Inclusive Governance Copyright © by onBoard Canada. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book