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The Official Baldrige Blog

How to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of a Culture of Belonging

Notebook on desk with the words belonging, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Credit: Zolak/Shutterstock

With the help of peer feedback, face-to-face knowledge sharing, and coaching, Baldrige Executive Fellows work on capstone leadership projects to drive strategic improvement for their own organizations. To do this, they develop a project to innovate or improve something of strategic significance using Baldrige concepts and what they learn from the best practices of Baldrige Award recipients whom they visit during their year-long fellowships. They also have a network of other Fellows with whom they can test ideas and innovations and receive feedback. The Fellows’ capstone projects are intended to yield significant, systemic impact in their own organizations. 

Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging Assessment

Photo of Keith Everett 2021 Baldrige Judges Panel.
Keith Everett, Baldrige Judges Panel, Baldrige Executive Fellow, 2021

A 2020–2021 Baldrige Executive Fellow, Keith Everett joined Hospice of Acadiana Inc. as chief executive officer in January 2022, after having served as chief performance, cultural operations, and compliance officer for Capital Caring Health, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit advanced illness and hospice care organizations in the United States. With his 17 years of health care and quality improvement experience, Keith was well versed in putting patients and families first, which is why his capstone project to develop an equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging organizational assessment for organizations to understand their cultures and surface issues of belonging became his passion.

His organizational assessment, loosely based on the Baldrige Are We Making Progress? survey tool, is intended to help organizations better understand their environments around equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging. The assessment is designed to provide a detailed analysis of the organization and a summary of key findings for action plans to be developed to address opportunities. 

The tool is broken into two separate assessments: (1) an operational assessment focused on key functional areas such as leadership/governance, human resources, policy and procedures, people, and organizational relationships; and (2) an organizational equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging profile that asks for detail responses to allow the organization to dig deeper into its culture.   


In the following interview, I sought more detail on Keith’s capstone project, his experience with the Baldrige Executive Fellows, the results his organizational assessment has achieved, and how his experiences have supported his own organization. Hospice of Acadiana Inc. has the goal to “bring a deep commitment to care for the dying”; per its website, the hospice has the longest record of continuous service of any hospice in Louisiana and has served more than 20,000 patients and their families since its inception.

What inspired your capstone project for the Baldrige Executive Fellows?

I would say that I wanted to obtain a deeper understanding of the culture within my own organizations. If I were to dig a little deeper, I would say that my explorations into my own biases inspired me to learn more about myself and the organizations that I am part of. From there, I started reading, analyzing, researching, and finally producing a survey tool to not only help my organization but also to help any organization.

What was the desired goal of your capstone project?

I took the Baldrige Excellence Framework® approach that could apply to any industry to produce a survey tool that any organization, large or small, could use. My desired goal was to create a survey tool that would allow organizations to dig deeper into their culture of equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging.

What results have you seen?

There was shock and awe. Some of the comments were, “There is no way." "Wow!" "That is surprising." "I didn’t expect that." "What can we do next?”

There were some real eye-opening moments when some organizations reviewed their initial results. Organizations that have utilized the tool were able to see immediate gaps within their own organizations, to research and develop strategies to improve, to implement stated strategies, and to commit to repeat the survey at least annually. Because the tool can be used to obtain segmented data, some organizations have surveyed different groups (e.g., senior leadership, leadership, front-line staff) and/or different departments. For example, if a large health system wanted to compare the results for oncology and radiology departments, they could. If they wanted to compare overall organization results to department, they also could.

At the Hospice of Acadiana, we are in the beginning stages of implementation, with leadership completing the initial survey. We are going through the results and developing appropriate action plans based on those results.

What are the future milestones of your project (i.e., what do you hope will happen next)? 

Here are my next steps:

  1. Continued use and discovery. I continue to research and collect information about key questions and resources that organizations can use to achieve equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging.
  2. Transition of the survey tool into a new survey platform to better utilize analytics to provide more granular details to organizations. The goal of the survey is to discover your organization's “TruHue,” the data that are key to making improvements.  
  3. Wide adoption throughout the health care space. I’m currently working on several initiatives related to health equity. I would like to see health care organizations use this survey and develop actionable goals to achieve cultural transformation.
  4. Reach every organization.

How have you/your organization continued to use Baldrige resources, including the Baldrige Excellence Framework?

I’ve stated that I’m Baldrige through and through. I have been working with the Baldrige framework since 2005, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my mentor, former examiner Dr. Michael R. Goler. His mentorship along with the framework have taught me the importance of asking critical questions to ensure that we are taking the appropriate approach and considering how we will deploy it, create systems of learning, create integration, and achieve desired outcomes and results. I would say that I use the framework daily.

What was the value for you in completing the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program? 

It’s hard to put into words the value of the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program. It was such a grounding and humbling experience. Everyone in my cohort brought a level of expertise that expanded my knowledge base. At every Fellows meeting, I felt smarter by simply being in their space. The Fellows, facilitators, faculty leaders, organizations, and staff made the Fellows program a true highlight of my career, and I would do it all again.

For more information on Keith's equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging organizational assessment, email truhueassessment [at] (truhueassessment[at]gmail[dot]com).

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About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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As I read this, I was very intrigued by Keith's tool that is "loosely based" on the Are We Making Progress survey tool. I think many of us will be asking "Is Keith willing to share this tool?"

Thanks for your comment, Paul.

Keith has provided an email address for continued discussion on his equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging organizational assessment: truhueassessment [at] (truhueassessment[at]gmail[dot]com).

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