Updated: Mar 5
Why is it Important for an Organization to be Accredited?
Many organizations in the DEI space operate solely under the auspices of being “certified”. i.e. Certified Specialist, Certified Advisor, Certified Program. Some organizations are also licensed which is usually required by a governmental agency. This comparison chart describes all three processes, but the focus of this article is on accreditation and certification.
Though certification is valuable and proves a level of competency, in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion, it is only the starting point. The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion holds enormous gravity and significance, so to give this work, and those that this work is intended to benefit, its proper respect, the best course of action is accreditation.
What is Accreditation? Accreditation is a voluntary process in which an agency is evaluated for compliance against a certain set of established criteria that reaches across the entire organization. In general terms, accreditation is validation by a qualified third party that an organization has demonstrated competence to carry out certain duties and tasks.
What about Certification? Certification provides written assurance that a person, product, or process conforms to specified requirements and standards. Certification, also like accreditation, is validation by a third party. The Joint Commission describes their accreditation and certification and the differences in healthcare settings.
The terms "accreditation" and "certification" are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they are not synonymous and you will find a world of differences in the distinction. The best way to distinguish the two is this: Certification signifies a process, and accreditation signifies a system.
Why Accreditation and Not Certification for an Organization?
Accreditation reflects the highest and most prestigious, level of quality control and accountability. The system of third-party checks and balances along with achieving an industry-wide standard of quality ensures a level of proficiency, competency, and accountability that certification alone doesn’t provide. In fact, it is common for certification bodies to hold accreditation as an affirmation to their competency to perform their duties in the field of certification.
Most people have been warned about attending, or enrolling in, unaccredited colleges and universities, or about receiving care at an unaccredited hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discuss why accreditation is important for many organizations here. The primary reason for ensuring that the institutions are accredited is to ensure that services offered have been reviewed by a neutral third party to provide quality assurance. This is a description of industry accreditation in manufacturing processes. In some instances, not having accreditation becomes an instant disqualifier.
Why is Accreditation important in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion?
The primary reasons most diversity, equity and inclusion efforts fail are due to a lack of accountability and a lack of a competent framework. These are examples of viable frameworks as applied to diversity, equity and inclusion offered by the eXtension Foundation Impact Collaborative. It is important to note that the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion are deeply personal and have serious implications, efforts will most likely fall short if diversity, equity and inclusion matters are treated as line items and “checking boxes”. Heavily investing on the reputation of “certification” alone could leave room for many blind spots and the inability to reach the depths necessary for transformative work.
At the National Accrediting Commission for Diversity and Inclusion, our S.O.A.R. (Solutions. Opportunities. Actions. Responses.) accreditation process provides the ultimate quality assurance seal on your organization’s efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. www.thenacdi.org