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Learn more about the Cultural Responsiveness Organizational Self-Assessment Survey, from its purpose and structure to who should take it and how to use it.

CROS Purpose & Structure

Q. What is the purpose of the CROS?

CROS is meant to provide a snapshot of organizational policies and practices, and the degree to which they reflect and support cultural responsiveness in a manner that improves the quality and effectiveness of services and supports to clients. 

Q. How and why was it developed? 

The CROS Toolkit is the product of a multi-year effort launched by Blue Shield of California Foundation in 2012 to strengthen cultural responsiveness across California’s domestic violence field. With a particular focus on high-need, underserved populations – including recent immigrants, tribal, and African-American communities – the effort aims to create a more survivor-centered system of care grounded in the unique cultural and social realities of domestic violence (DV) survivors and their families. The term “cultural responsiveness” builds upon traditional definitions to further communicate the notion that cultural competence requires ongoing understanding and an adaptive stance to meet the changing and diverse needs of survivors throughout the state.

The toolkit was developed to help organizations assess their ability to respond to all survivors, and has been validated as a reliable model for increasing (or maintaining) organizational capacity to engage and support every client in a way that is “culturally competent.” Working together with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, the Foundation is making the CROS Toolkit publicly available to broaden the reach of DV intervention and prevention efforts that address differences in race, culture, class, sexual orientation, and immigration status that may influence the ability of women and families to access help and end the cycle of violence. The CROS Tool enables agencies to:

  • Deepen their understanding of cultural responsiveness as a value and practice woven throughout the organization.
  • See a clear view of where they are on a developmental continuum.
  • Identify strengths as well as areas that may benefit from additional focus and attention.

Q. How is the CROS organized?

Organizational Culture & Commitment 

Policies & Procedures Written policies exist and associated practices are implemented that support building and developing a linguistically and culturally responsive staff, ensure processes for soliciting, reviewing, and acting upon client feedback, prevent discrimination and harassment, and affirm clients’ cultural backgrounds.

Interest & Support There is interest in and support of cultural diversity across the organization.

Community Representativeness Acknowledging that culture is not static and your clients/organizational partners belong to multiple cultural groups, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, nationality, religion, and other socially-defined characteristics.

Leadership Commitment

Leadership Active Commitment Organizational leaders have a clear vision of what cultural responsiveness means, hold it as a priority and actively demonstrate support for creating a culturally competent environment.

Leadership Opportunity Persons of diverse backgrounds are encouraged and supported to pursue leadership opportunities.

Personnel Practices

Staff Practices Staff practices reflect capacities associated with cultural and linguistic competence.

Management Practices Management practices reflect capacities associated with cultural and linguistic competence.

Professional Development Staff and Volunteers at all levels are offered training and professional development in cultural competency.

Critical Analysis Words like “cultural diversity” touch upon racism, sexism and classism, etc. Critical analysis recognizes that culture is not neutral and that different cultural groups are ascribed differential status and power. With this in mind, an organization engages in critical analysis to better understand those things that contribute to the existence, impact, and effective prevention and treatment of domestic violence.
Outcomes & Impacts

Client Outcomes Client experiences with the organization reflect its cultural and linguistic competence.

Staff Outcomes Staff experiences with the organization reflect its cultural and linguistic competence.

Community Engagement

Engagement of Community Resources The organization engages individuals/groups/communities as often as there is opportunity to do so, enhancing outreach, understanding, and access to resources to best meet the needs of clients/partners.

Engagement of Resources The organization engages systems as often as there is opportunity to do so, enhancing outreach, understanding, and access to resources to best meet the needs of clients/partners.

Community Partner Capacity Building The organization actively engages with other organizations serving to strengthen collective capacity to effectively serve clients/partners.
Stakeholder Involvement The organization actively and systematically engages stakeholders so that critical processes include diverse perspectives and experiences.
Evaluation / Ongoing Learning

The organization actively and systematically engages in evaluation to understand impact and improve practices.

Q. What do the findings tell me? 

The data, which is analyzed in the aggregate: 

  • Are equipped with a customized snapshot depicting where the organization is on a developmental continuum of cultural responsiveness
  • Increase their understanding of their organizational strengths, as well as areas that may benefit from attention and improvement
  • Deepen their insight as to the way in which culturally-responsive practice is weaved throughout their organizations

Who, When & Why? 

Q. What type of Organization (who) is the ideal candidate for the CROS?

One that …

  • Has a culture and practice of self reflection and bidirectional feedback.
  • Embraces a learning and adaptive mindset .
  • Understands that quality is something in which one is in constant pursuit.
  • Has experience developing and implementing plans based on learning and assessment findings. 

Q.   When is the best time to take the CROS?

There is no perfect time, but here are some contextual factors that should be considered:

  • The majority of staff/leadership are available to take the CROS and engage in sense making of the findings.
  • There are no (or limited) pressing deadlines (i.e., reporting, funding proposals, etc.).
  • There is a window of time where the process can start and end with limited interruptions (i.e., vacations, holidays, conferences, etc.) 

Q.  Why should our organization take the CROS? 

From getting ready to taking actions from the findings, the entire CROS process can be a step on the road to an organization going from good to great. In particular, the CROS can 

  • Elevate the importance of cultural responsiveness as core to your organizational effectiveness 
  • Highlight the role and importance of everyone to your organization’s’ cultural responsiveness 
  • Identify areas of strengths and opportunities for improvement, including policies and practices 
  • Jump-start a change initiative or energize current initiatives
  • Energize and affirm staff, leadership and volunteers  

Key Terms

Q. What is a self-assessment?

A self-assessment is systematic process for obtaining valid information about the performance of an organization and the factors that affect performance using a common set of definitions. 

Q. What do we mean by cultural responsiveness? 

We define cultural responsiveness as more than just expressing sensitivity or concern for individuals from all cultures (cultural sensitivity). A culturally responsive organization is one that is designed to effectively meet the needs of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences. It involves understanding not only the societal oppressions faced by various groups of people, but also respecting the strengths and assets inherent in different communities. This understanding must then be reflected in program services, staffing, philosophies and policies.

Additional Questions

Did we answer all of your questions? If so, click here to go back to the main CROS page. If you still have questions, please email