2022 DEIJ Survey Results Overview Webinar


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s webinar. 


Thank you for joining us this afternoon for 2022 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice Survey Results Overview Webinar. My name is Atokatha Ashmond Brew, Managing Director of Marketing & Communication for Nonprofit HR, and I’ll be your moderator for today. We have a lot of great content to cover, so let’s get started. Before we jump in, I would like to go over a few items so you know how to participate in today’s event.  


You’ve joined the presentation listening using your computer’s speaker system by default. If you would prefer to join over the telephone, just select telephone in the audio pane, and the dial-in information will be displayed. You will have the opportunity to submit text questions to today’s presenters by typing your questions into the questions pane on the control panel. You may send in your questions at any time during the presentation. We will collect these and address them during the Q&A session at the end of today’s presentation. Today’s webinar is being recorded, and you will receive a follow-up email within the next few days with a link to the recording, and also the presentation slides.  


And now, a little about Nonprofit HR. 


We empower nonprofits to achieve their full potential through their people. Nonprofit HR is the country’s leading and oldest firm focused exclusively on the talent management needs of the social sector, including nonprofits, associations, social enterprises and other mission-driven organizations. We focus our consulting efforts on the following practice areas: Strategy & Advisory, HR Outsourcing, Total Rewards, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Search. 


Nonprofit HR also offers customized learning and development in addition to research and events. All with the objective of strengthening the people management capacity of the workforce. Since 2000, our staff of credential experts have advanced the impact of some of the world’s most influential brands in the sector.  


And now, a little bit about today’s presenter, Emily Holthaus. 


Emily is Managing Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Nonprofit HR. She’s known for collaborating with organizations to design organizational strategy and implement leadership development solutions toward the outcomes of greater equity, inclusion and human capital engagement, in both physical and virtual environments. Prior to serving as Nonprofit HR’s lead DEI consultant, Emily served as the Director of Multicultural Leadership Development for YMCA of the USA, where she worked to identify, engage, inspire, develop and retain multicultural staff to ensure the leadership of YMCA reflects the diverse communities they serve. Prior to that role, Emily served in several senior leadership positions in various nonprofits, including Vice President of Operations, Executive Director and National Director of Social Responsibility roles. 


You will also hear from today, Dr. Antonio Cortez, Senior Consultant for DEI with Nonprofit HR. 


Antonio has over a decade of experience as an applied industrial, organizational and business psychologist in the nonprofit sector. In his current role, he functions as a senior advisor on methodologies to assess, plan and improve approaches to incorporating DEI into organizational operations. 


Areas of practice include organizational equity analysis to uncover blind spots in operations which lead to inequities, strategy development to solve organizational issues in the DEI space, global application of DEI concepts for multicultural organizations and training on DEI topics such as Building a Business Case for DEI, Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, and Systems Theory Application to Workforce Development. 


Again, you will have an opportunity to ask questions throughout today’s event, and the recording and slides for this event will be sent within the week. Live attendees will also receive SHRM recertification via codes that we will include in the communication. And now, without further ado, I would like to hand it over to you, Emily. 


Emily Holthaus: Hello, everyone, welcome. We are truly excited to be with you, and as you see… 


Antonio, he is an expert in all things data and analysis, so we’re going to be jumping back and forth with you today to share some data, to talk about our insights with it, but then also, we’re going to do some question and answer as part of this as well. So, if you have questions, feel free to type those into the questions pane, and we will address them. Then, we’re going to leave you with some tips and advice to support what we learned in the data, and how you can begin to get started.  


Now, as we get moving today, we just wanted to give you a little bit of a sense of who responded to the survey. And we had 588 organizations respond, which is an amazing snapshot of the nonprofit sector. You will see here that there were three states where we had a majority of respondents come back from California, D.C. and New York, and you’ll see there that there’s an additional concentrations in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, Illinois and then the 26% is just a smaller grouping of a lot of other states that make up that last 26%. So, a good snapshot of geographically where our respondents are coming from. 


Also, as we move, I’m going to just talk a little bit about the operating budgets for those that responded to give us a sense of how large the organizations were financially. Almost half, so we’re at that 42%, are smaller organizations, so less than five million. And what’s good and interesting about this is there are differences with capacity and the ability for smaller organizations to implement DEI and justice activities in their organizations. So, about half the group represents what we would call smaller organizations. And then you’ll see here, there’s a cadence going up to those—we had a few that were even more than 500 million in that very large size of organization. So across the board, that is the breakdown. 


And then if we look at employee headcount as well to see, to just get a snapshot, of how many employees are in organizations. We had the majority that had 75 or less employees, again, those smaller organizations, 61% of our respondents were in organizations that have teams of 75 or less. We’ve got that group that goes from 76 to the 250 mark, about 24% of our respondents were in that area. And then, those that are larger, more than 250 employees, about 15% of our respondents, to give you a sense of who responded there. 


Here’s the other really interesting thing, as we wanted to give you the top 10 related to the mission focus of our respondent organizations. And so, the top 10 include: children, youth and families, human services, education. Those three had the highest amount of organizations responding in those areas. And then, advocacy/legal/policy, healthcare, environmental, associations, arts and culture, diverse ability—or disability—and human rights made the remainder of our top-10 mission focus areas. 


So, we want to get into the data now and talk a little bit about this. And we asked the question, do you prioritize diversity, equity, inclusion, justice? And on average, over 72% of organizations that responded back said, “Yes, we have prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion.” 


Here’s what’s interesting though, 40% has said, “We’ve prioritized justice.” That was one that was prioritized at a little bit of a lower level. Interestingly enough here too, 72% have said, “Yes, I prioritize,” but only 17% of respondents said, “I have a formal strategy in place.” 


Twenty-three percent said, “I have a formal budget in place to do diversity, equity, inclusion and justice work.” And 40% said, “I have a formal statement or vision or statement of intent to support my commitment to DEIJ.”  


And so, Antonio, I’m going to pause for a second, because this is interesting to see the differences and the gap there. I didn’t know if there’s anything that you wanted to add interpretation-wise for this. 


Antonio Cortes: Yeah, I think what we find is that organizations, when they say they’re prioritizing something, in this particular space, it’s kind of a new thing. So where to begin, where to focus efforts, energy, resources, it often becomes a point of contention. Sometimes, organizations get stuck. And that also means that they begin and move different pieces forward at different rates. 


But what I will say, here’s what I’m looking at, too, is that having a statement is often seen as a very beginning point for an organization’s journey on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. And so, having 40% of those organizations with clarity on what this means for them as an organization and how that manifests is a great place to be I think, in terms of where we are at as a field overall.  


And then, also recognizing that justice is a very complex aspect of this work. And so also seeing that 40% of the responding organizations have made progress in that area is also, I think, inspiring because that’s, I think, the harder one to accomplish. But at least having some starting point is something that should be acknowledged wholeheartedly. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, thank you, Antonio. And there always is a delta between intent and action and ideally, we want to close that as much as possible. 


Here’s a few more that give us the same indication here: 48% said they have featured diversity, equity, inclusion or justice as an organizational value, core value, within the organization, which is a nice number there, almost half. Forty-one percent said they feature diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in their strategic plan. And that’s another really important, demonstrated way—we know what gets measured gets done, so if it’s in our plan, we can say it’s important, and if it’s in our plan, the chances of it getting done are higher, if it’s there strategically. 


Forty-five percent said, “Yes, we’ve offered diversity, equity and inclusion training of some sort.” And we’re going to unpack some of these as we go into additional data. And then, 53%, so for those who said I didn’t prioritize DEI, 53% of those said that, “the lack of prioritization has impacted my organization.” So that remaining percentage that did not prioritize DEI, 53% of them said, “Yeah, not doing so has had an impact on our organization,” which is also really interesting. 


So, we’re going to dive into some of the additional detail here to unpack some of these pieces. 


And for the group that said, “Yes, we have a formal strategy,” which for us is a really strong indicator of your intent to get into action to integrate, if you have a strategy to show that. So, for those that said, “Yes, we do have a strategy,” 43% of them said that their primary driver for having that written strategy was because they were working to address some opportunities. They may have done an assessment, they may have gotten a survey back with something that told them that there were opportunities for them to grow and to improve in this area, whether that be around diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. And so, that is the primary driver for most folks that had a strategy, is to address that.  


You’ll see also, though, that there’s some other reasons why people created strategies. They might have said, “We’re going to do this because we know that a focus on DEIJ helps us organizationally to be more effective and achieve results and achieve our mission.” And almost 12% said that’s the reason why we do this, because it’s critical for us to have the results that we want to do. Some other things there around retention or needing to improve DEIJ at leadership levels and staff levels.  


Also, here’s another big one: expectations of our stakeholder communities. Right now, more than ever, our communities expect us to be doing work in this area, and people will make decisions about who they engage with, sometimes, whether or not we’re doing things that are impacting diversity, equity, inclusion or justice. So, those are some interesting ways in which people prioritize their work here. 


So, the next one is related to staff, and I’m going to turn it over to Antonio to go through some of these. 


Antonio Cortes: Thanks, Emily. And this one, this item, ties back to that question earlier on, if I’m prioritizing the DEIJ, what does that look like? 


And for most organizations, having a staff member that’s solely responsible for something is typically indicative of it being a priority for your organization. So, in this item, the response that was asked for was to identify whether or not they had someone that was responsible for DEIJ. And interestingly, almost 31% of organizations responded in the affirmative that, “Yes, we do have someone that prioritizes this and owns the work.” 


Something else I want to call out here is that this is actually up almost 10% from our previous survey data back in 2021 and also in 2019, when we collected this same item. So, what we’re seeing is, and I’m also observing anecdotally on places like LinkedIn, there are more postings for these types of explicit roles for it to focus on this within the organizational context. Also interesting, though, is that 67% are still saying, “No, we don’t have someone that is formally in that position.”  


Feel free to advance, Emily.  


And, this next item, responders we’re asked to indicate whether or not the staff person that it was in that posting, if they had one, was appropriately or adequately resourced and positioned within the organization to actually create and sustain change. And, 61% of respondents responded in the affirmative in saying, “Yes,” that individual, if they had one, did have enough resources and was positioned to be successful. 


But then, there’s also an interesting kind of trend where about 26%, almost 27%, said that that’s not the case for them. And then, about 14%, almost, indicated they just didn’t know. And so, this could be an indication of not having information, not understanding how budgets are allocated, that type of thing. So, there’s still a lot of information that could be obtained. But, there is, for the most part, it seems like a larger percentage are supported by it than not. 


Emily Holthaus: And Antonio, I was just going to add here, too, that when we advise organizations, we say, “You need to position your DEI person in a place of power and influence in the organization, where they can actually be able to make the types of decisions that are needed to drive this change forward.” 


And what we will sometimes see, and that kind of is indicative of maybe that 26% in there, where maybe we’ve created a position and we make it a middle management position and we make that person four layers down from the CEO and doesn’t interface with the board and doesn’t allow them to be appropriately positioned to drive change. We do see that happen sometimes. And we’ll say, “Yeah, if you’re going to redo this again, you might want to rethink where the position is placed, because it doesn’t matter a lot in being able to get this work done, as well.” 


Antonio Cortes: And on this next item, this is also an important metric to get a hold on, who’s ultimately accountable for your organization’s DEIJ strategy/initiatives? 


And what we found was that 46% of respondents indicated that the either the president or CEO or executive director was that individual who was solely responsible. And this is actually in strong alignment with our best practice, to have leadership, in some way, shape or form, actually being the accountable party. Even if certain aspects of the work, or efforts are housed in HR or in programmatic departments or somewhere else, having leadership accountability is central to an organization’s success in advancing DEIJ. 


And so, as we go down to look at other places where they’ve identified where that kind of accountability resides, 29% responded that it was a leadership team overall. Four percent, almost 5%, reported that it was specifically the person who had a role in this or chief diversity officer or some other similar role. Something that is also commonplace is for this to be housed or left to HR or talent management, and so almost 11% of our respondents indicated that that’s where it existed in their organization.  


Less than 1% indicated that an external individual or consultancy own that, which is a good thing. Again, we don’t, as a consultant myself, this is not necessarily my responsibility. I’m not the one at the end of the day that goes home and will be griping over what happens in my organization if I’m the consultant. I’m going to be there to try to help, and provide guidance on best practices on how to move forward. But at the end of the day, the people that are in the organization should ideally have the primary ownership, even if you are working with an expert advisor as support. And then, 8% identified some other group or individual as being the owner, potentially a board or some other group or entity. 


On this next metric, when responding to whether or not the organization has formed a work team or taskforce focused on DEIJ, what we learned was that 70% of respondents indicated that, “Yes, their organization has done this.” And just for comparison purposes or anecdotally, again, this is also another action-oriented strategy that organizations do to show their commitment to advancing DEIJ, and it’s a very tangible one.  


And for many organizations that are just embarking on this, it is something that is not always easy, but it is sometimes very necessary. It allows us to have a group of staff across the organization that represent different teams, different dimensions of diversity, different stakeholder groups to allow to have input and dialogue on things that are meaningful to organizations, such as training and educational opportunities or identifying cultural celebrations or education that are relevant to different staff groups that exist in the organization. And also, helping us minimize or reduce number of spots across the organization that we just aren’t aware of. And so, these staff can become very important for us to advance DEIJ and ensuring that we’re doing so in a way that makes the most sense for staff. 


Actually, one point there, this is also a significant increase from our 2021 and 2019 data. I think we were somewhere in the 40-some-odd percent, almost 50%, of organizations responding having a DEIJ committee, so definitely growth in this one as well. 


Emily Holthaus: Thank you. 


And so, this next one, and I think, I’m diving into this next one. So one of the other things we asked them about was, do you believe the diversity of your organization’s staff reflects the communities that you’re serving? 


And this is always something that is somewhat of a challenge for organizations, potentially, especially as you move higher in the organization, move to higher levels, are we reflective? Thirty-four percent, almost 35% said, “Yes, we believe we are.” About 17% said, “No, we don’t think that we are,” and the majority of the group that responded here is in that middle place of, “Yes, we kind of do, we kind of don’t. We’ve got some work to do. We’ve got some opportunities.” 


And I think what’s interesting here is that the data from last time, I think we just asked a yes or no. So, we had more people, actually, in the affirmative when we asked this the last time. And, I think, as people are understanding a little bit more about, what does that mean to be fully reflective of our communities and constituents? And kind of realizing, “Yeah, we thought we were doing okay, but are we doing as well as we could be doing in this area?” And representation is one of those long-term things that we do. 


And so, this next one is related to metrics and the types of metrics that we capture. So, Antonio, I’m going to give this back to you to talk a little bit through, if we’re trying to understand how representative we are, what metrics do we collect. 


Antonio Cortes: Definitely. 


And so, as Emily said it earlier, I think that that statement is golden: What gets measured is often the things that get done. And so, what are organizations measuring to ensure that they are actually advancing their DEI efforts? And so, what we found was that over 50% of respondents indicated that there was a general race, gender or diverse or disability demographic metrics that they were monitoring or tracking in a number of different places to understand the trends of how they are progressing. And also, what’s actually being impacted by some of their other efforts.  


Twenty-six percent also reported that they had not implemented any DEIJ metric. So, again, when we think about the fact that, if I’m not necessarily assessing my progress, how will I know if I have achieved a desired outcome or goal that I aspire or committed to? So, something to be mindful of there. 


Other places or other areas organizations have identified as being measured, specifically on retention metrics, and thinking about that segmentation of, am I tracking our men and women or other people moving in and out of the organization differently? And really thinking about those underrepresented groups primarily as being sometimes the most vulnerable for having a higher transitional rate at an organization.  


Another 18% identified pay or rewards-based metrics as being an important thing that they track and keep a pulse on. And then, about a third of respondents indicated that things like inclusion metrics, recruitment pool demographics, interview and hiring practices and demographics—as people progress through that process—are important pieces of information that they track in those different places. 


Recognizing that what we’re hearing now, too, if you think about this from a progression standpoint, tracking who comes in on the front end and who is leaving is an important characteristic to understand. If I’m bringing in people and seeing them exit at similar rates or different rates, very important to keep track on both ends of that process.  


Twenty-one percent reported promotional demographics as being another area to keep tabs on, so really thinking about how people move within the organization during their time there. Also, almost 17% of reported tracking training statistics. And that could be a number of different things. In many cases, it could be satisfaction of training, whether or not it was helpful to moving the needle on concepts, such as awareness about DEIJ and how it applies to my role. There could be a number of different things involved in there, but definitely needing to have some type of sense of what happens during training experiences is important.  


And then, almost 20% identified as tracking progress towards established competencies as an area of focus for them. So these metrics are pretty much in line with our previous survey results from 2021 and 2019, in terms of where organizations are focusing. I would say these are probably a little bit more expanded, versus what we had collected in the past. So organizations are really thinking a little bit differently about where we should be paying attention in the organization, and what we’re actually going to measure to ensure, are we getting the outcomes that work with our DEIJ strategy? 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, Antonio, this is really important. And sometimes we don’t pay attention to these things because we’re afraid what this data is going to tell us. And it really is important to know and understand, who’s staying in your organization longer? Who’s leaving? Why is that? Who’s being promoted? Who’s not being promoted? Across what identities? Why is that, and what does that tell us? 


And just because we might be afraid of what the data says doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at it and pay attention to it and track it, so this one is incredibly important.  


Oops, I’m going too fast. Sorry. Let me go back for you. 


Antonio Cortes: All good. So, looking at data gathered from metrics and shared. So, who are we sharing this information with? That’s kind of a secondary question that often comes up. And what we learned is that 56% of respondents indicated that they share this information with all staff. 


And I will say that’s in strong alignment with our best practice. I would say this is probably true for any survey, or any type of data gathering you conduct with staff as a whole, is to report back what those findings were, what the key themes were, to just start that conversation and dialogue on what is happening in the organization, and what might be some first steps for us to address that. So, that’s a strong measure on the top there.  


Forty-three percent of respondents indicated that senior management are the ones that are receiving and holding that data; about 37% indicated that the board would be recipients of these metrics; 18%, almost 19%, indicated they use this for their grantors; and a quarter indicated that they use this information with funders. 


And I want to pause here for a moment and say that grantors and funders specifically—anecdotally, again—based on feedback from some of our clients, these are increasing increasingly common requests from organizations as part of grant-making or financial development and sustainability of where their resources are coming from, to actually report back on DEIJ metrics, specifically to their funders.  


And then lastly, when you think about the community and the external stakeholders, about 18%, almost 19%, of respondents indicated that those are also individuals that are receiving the information that they’re gathering, recognizing that not all information necessarily needs to be shared with all of these groups. But these, I do think, represent pretty much all the stakeholders that should be considered when you are gathering DEIJ information. And think about, where the most important places are to report back on and share your progress as to where you are and where you’re going. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, and Antonio, I’m going to add to that, external stakeholders is a big one, too, because if you’re thinking about, let’s say you have a dashboard. You’ve got your statement and things on your website. When folks are looking for jobs and they’re looking for prospective employers, people look at what commitments are out there, public. 


And the other thing, too, about—we have shared that communities have different expectations now about what they want organizations to do and be in this space. So, the more that we can be accountable to things externally, share dashboards, share commitments, share progress, it’s going to help people to really see and understand, “Yes, we’re serious about it. We care about it. We’re serious about it. We’re going to be accountable to it because we’re willing to do that in a public way.” So, that one is really important, too. And I know that scares a lot of organizations too, because they’re like, “Well, maybe we’re not where we are,” but it’s more important to just say, “We’re on a journey,” and to still share what your commitments are publicly as much as possible. 


All right, so I think this next one is mine. We’re talking a little bit now about training. And those organizations that have provided training. And it looks like, and I’m looking here, I want to make sure I didn’t bounce too far ahead. 


OK, so it looks like this is something that has gone up, as we’ve asked this question in the past, which is really great. And I think, getting stakeholders foundational training so that they can understand and know what DEI means to an organization, how we center justice and how it shows up for us. And, 79%, almost 80%, have said, “We do this for our staff.” And 71% said, “We do this for our leadership team.” Then, we’ve got 35% that says, “Yes, we provided training to our board,” and 18% to our external stakeholders.  


So, this is really positive to start to see these moving up to places where you’re getting to—this is my bias, but I would love to see 100% of staff and leaders in all nonprofits get training and getting to that point. And also, getting your board on the same page it looks like there’s some opportunity there for us to close that gap just a little bit. 


Also, we ask the question around what type of training? If you’re providing training, what type of training are you providing? So, 65% of our respondents that are providing training say, “We’re doing general DEI training,” so people know and get that grounding and foundational knowledge. Sixty-percent said, “We’re focused specifically on implicit bias training.” And oftentimes we know that implicit bias does creep into organizations, it impacts how we make decisions, it impacts how we interact with each other. So, knowing and understanding that and starting to interrupt that as a really important place to be.  


And then, you’ll see there in the chart, as well, there’s some other areas that have gotten higher percentages of people focusing on it. Sensitivity training, cross-cultural communication, allyship, race-centered training, LGBTQIA+ -centered training. All of those are into that middle area, and then you’ll see some others around gender, age, ability. And then, there’s that percentage that just shows we haven’t offered any of these topics so far for our training. 


Antonio Cortes: I think this one’s mine. 


Emily Holthaus: It is. 


Antonio Cortes: So, when we asked respondents to identify all the ways that the diversity challenges apply to the organization’s talent management function, 74% of respondents indicated that attracting a diverse pool of candidates is probably on the top of the list, as to how it impacts the actual talent management functions. When we look at other ways that it might show up, when we think about retaining gender segments and underrepresented population on staff and retaining a diverse staff, in general, about 40% indicated that that’s an area of concern or consideration.  


About 39% indicated that implementing engagement practices for a diverse staff was a way that it impacts talent management. Over half indicated that creating and/or maintaining a culture of inclusiveness among all staff is another way it intersects. And then, having or maintaining a diverse staff across the organizational hierarchy, we’re thinking back to promotional practices and advancement internally, about 61% indicated that that’s an area where it shows up. And when we think about ensuring equitable compensation practices being in place, 33%, almost 34% indicated that that’s where it shows up. 


Having an accountability measures for staff, such as performance management metrics, about 45%, almost 46%, indicated that that’s where it might show up or impact talent management. Over half, again, indicated that having DEIJ competencies, explicitly for leadership is how it impacted their talent management. Then, lastly, just under 3% indicated that they did not have any DEIJ challenges when it comes to talent management.  


So, similar to the last slide, what we’re finding is that a very small percentage of organizations are saying that this isn’t something that’s relevant to how they operate or function today. And what this slide indicates, I think, is that the multitude of ways in which it can manifest, or show up or be addressed or paid attention to, really spans the organizational processes and systems in every single area. 


Let’s see, on this slide, we are looking at whether or not the organizations have changed their HR or talent management processes within the last year. And so, thinking, again, small timeframe, 12 months, 79% indicated that diversity has actually been impacted, 71% indicated that they are working on addressing equity and 35% in terms of inclusion.  


And so, I want to pause here for a moment, and I want to say that diversity is probably the easiest one of these to actually impact. I can bring more people onto my team, as people turnover, as new roles become available. I can be really intentional about recruitment and hiring processes that will allow that to naturally help manifest. And then, equity, oftentimes, is showing up in organizational processes, such as compensation, right? So, if I communicate more clearly and provide more information on how compensation works in the organization, I provide information like salary bands, these are a little bit more process oriented, but they do actually have a direct impact on perceptions of equity.  


When we get to inclusion, though, and also belonging, where we have 35% and 49% on these two. These are the harder ones to impact, in our experience. And so, I might be a contributing factor, contributing individual, that helps my organization look and feel more diverse, but I may not necessarily feel included based off of the culture of the organization. Has that shifted? That’s often a point of contention or consideration. 


Similarly, belonging is a related concept to inclusion. Whether or not someone feels like they belong in an organization, they are welcome, they are included, those are much different questions than whether or not we have demographic representation of diversity or if we have clear and good organizational systems and processes.  


And, Emily, I don’t know if you have additional thoughts on this one. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, I was just going to add that this is incredibly important because if we’re only focused on getting different types of identities into our organization, and then we don’t focus on the others, what we’re going to do is get in this cycle of, “Hey, we’re bringing a bunch of new people in, but hey, the environment isn’t ready for them, so they’re going to leave.” So, they’re all interconnected with each other. Equity is a big one, too. If we’re bringing new people in, and we’re working on how it feels to be in the organization, but we’re not changing how well the systems and processes are working from an equity standpoint, that’s also going to impact the others. And so, I just wanted to acknowledge that looking and pushing to realize greater on all of these is actually important to try to find that balance across them. 


Antonio Cortes: And here, again, we’re really trying to get a sense of what are organizations doing, in terms of actually changing things to realize their DEIJ aspirations and goals?  


And what we learned, which is not surprising to me personally, but 70% of respondents indicated that their interviewing and hiring practices have changed in connection to thinking about diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. And I’ll say this ties directly back to the last slide: You can more easily impact the diversity of an organization through things like your interviewing and hiring practices, and it’s also probably one of the easier ones to start with. So, that’s not surprising to me personally that that’s where a lot of organizations are spending time. And I think that’s a great starting point to some other things that we can focus on, which get more at that inclusion aspect and equity as well—things like promotional practices and policies and making sure that those are transparent and in place. And so, about 27% of organizations indicated that that’s true for them.  


And 40% of respondents indicated that their compensation and benefits practices or policies have changed in response to this work; 31% indicated that performance management practices have also changed; 36% indicated that engagement and retention practices have changed; almost 40% indicated that leadership development practices have changed; and then, we get down a little bit here, but just 19% indicated that succession planning has changed, knowing that that’s a unique individual organizational process or system that is in place, and sometimes those succession plans don’t get touched for a long time. But 19% of respondents indicated that even there, it shows up as something that has been impacted. And then lastly, 28%, almost 29%, of respondents indicated that mentoring or other peer learning practices have changed in response to their efforts on DEIJ.  


And what I would say is that this is a slight improvement from our results in 2021, and definitely, in some cases, a notable increase from our data from 2019. Organizations are really saying, “You know what? There are a number of ways that we can really action this and really show that we’re trying to make a direct impact on our organization becoming more diverse, equitable, inclusive and just as we operate.” 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah. Antonio, I’m excited about these because you know I love systems change and the more we can impact our policies and practices, that’s the long-term way in which we can embed DEIJ into our work. So, this is super exciting to me to see these numbers continue to go up. 


I think this is my next one here. We’re talking about, what challenges apply to my organization’s structure?  


And so, really, what we were asking here is, what big challenges outside of the HR lifecycle pieces that Antonio just talked about, but at an organizational level, what is it that potentially is making you think about applying DEI and the challenges?  


So, we’ve got diversity at senior leadership levels at that 63% of organizations saying that’s something we struggle with, that we want to move and change. Board diversity, 65% of respondents said, “Yes, we want our board to be more diverse and more reflective.” And then 54% said, “A challenge is accountability.” We have a lot of things going on. And we sometimes get challenged with actually being accountable to DEI  and justice over the long term. 


There are other things here that came out. So, infusing DEIJ structurally into each position or department, so not having DEI being a standalone thing over here. Fifty percent said, “Yeah, we struggled with infusing it across the organization.” And we also talked about offering programs that reflect differing identities and dimensions of diversity, represented by our stakeholders, our community or obtaining buy-in on the importance of why we should be doing this. 


Then, there were a handful of folks, so 8.5%, that said, “You know what? We don’t have any challenges when it comes to organizational structure.” They feel like they’re doing well centering it as part of their organization. 


So, the next piece is related to how COVID-19 specifically may have impacted some of those organizational implications. And we know that COVID-19 has had a huge impact on a lot of different aspects of the organization, and so we were asking it specifically in relationship to your focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. So, this tells you a little bit that some organizations, based on the COVID-19 overlay have said, “Yes, we’re going to increase our budget,” that 24% said, “We’re going to lean in even further to our DEIJ work.” And some have said, “We have made adjustments to prioritize or reprioritize our objectives, programs and/or initiatives,” that 46% said, “Yes. we’ve recentered that, based on the overlay of everything happening with COVID and the pandemic.”  


Two percent said, “We’ve deprioritized,” and about 44% said, “You know what? We haven’t adjusted our approach. The pandemic has not impacted our thoughts and implications related to how we are centering diversity, equity, inclusion and justice,” which is always really interesting to see. 


Oh, and I’m looking here. Let’s see if it’ll let me advance. 


Here we go. 


Antonio, I’m going to give you this one too, this one has to do with everything happening in our country that continues to happen around racial justice, equality and social justice, so let’s lean into these a little bit, too. 


Antonio Cortes: Yeah. And so, and this is distinctly different from the last one, where, previously, we were focused on the impact of COVID on what we’re doing as an organization. But specifically thinking about racial justice and equity challenges, or equality challenges, how does that impact what we’re doing? 


And so, interestingly, again, less than 1% indicated that they expect or have reduced their DEIJ budget. And this is, again, optimistic one on my end, I think that’s probably a great place to be in terms of de-emphasizing this as an organization and how we resource it.  


But also, when we look at those organizations that are expected to increase their budget in this area, 34% responded in the affirmative. When posed with whether or not they are making adjustments to reprioritize or prioritize DEIJ objectives, programs and/or initiatives, over half indicated in the affirmative that, “Yes, this is something that they were either in the middle of doing or had intentions to do.” 


And then, just a little over 1% indicated that they have deprioritized DEIJ objectives, programs and initiatives. When asked, when offered, the option of whether or not they just have not adjusted their approach at all, 23%, or almost a quarter, responded in the affirmative for that. 


Then lastly, when thinking about recent race events that have transpired in our country or in our communities, only 8.5% indicated that that has not impacted their organization’s approach to DEIJ.  


So, what I’m reading here, overall, is that more organizations are saying that this has actually caused them to further emphasize their approach and their efforts on these particular areas in response to what’s happening, in relation to social injustice and social inequalities.  


And Emily, I don’t know if you have other thoughts you want to share here. But I just thought, in general, it’s interesting to see that this actually seems to have impacted organizations more so than COVID, which is a tough thing to accomplish on any topic these days. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, and I’ve been doing this work for the better part of 20 years, and I do know that just the general willingness to want to dive in and do deep, important, integrated work has shifted and changed. And I think what has been happening in our country and in our world and what we’re starting to see has really highlighted for some, that maybe weren’t as heightened or aware of some of the challenges, and created a different level of urgency now, which I think is really important. And people are ready to get into action for this work, which—we know that a lot of these things that are happening are incredibly tragic and horrific events. But, at the same time, as folks see those, it spurs them to get into more meaningful action, which is—if we hope for anything positive to come, we like to see that trend coming through here, that people are ready to dive in and do the work. 


All right. 


Antonio Cortes: And I think this is the last item here. But when thinking about the specific stakeholder groups across your organization that are actually leading the organizational DEIJ efforts in response to racial justice and equality, what we learned was that it shows up in a lot of different areas. So, different groups have a hand, potentially, depending upon how your organization is approaching it. 


So about 20%, almost 21%, indicated that front-line staff are involved as a stakeholder group, 42% indicated that mid-level or management staff were involved as a stakeholder group, 18% had junior staff involved, again as a stakeholder group. Next one, again, in line with best practices, senior leadership, really being a critical group that that should be involved at an ownership or an involvement level. 


And, surprisingly, in a good way, 70% of respondents indicated that their senior leadership was a significant stakeholder group in their DEIJ efforts. And then, almost 20% identified some other group or stakeholder individual or functional group that would be involved as a stakeholder group, specifically.  


So, what I’m seeing here is very optimistic in that organizations are getting really serious about this and having individuals become accountable, but also involved. And I’d say this spread is kind of moving in an ideal mix of having folks across your organization being involved and active. 


Emily Holthaus: I love seeing this. And, I think, more than ever too, the front-line leaders in our organizations that are really close to our communities oftentimes will be the ones to say, “Hey, we need to be doing something about this.” And the question is, are they able to influence them? Are they going to be able to share that voice and that vantage point that they have to help the organization to pay attention to everything that’s happening? And then, engage a little bit different with community and with stakeholders. So, I love seeing this spread the way it is as well. 


All right. So, that was a lot of data. This was high level. We actually have more that Atokatha will be putting out into our full report later on. But we wanted to share some of the high-level key data points with you. And now we do want to take a few minutes before we give our top 10 recommendations here at the end, but take a few minutes to support some questions. 


So Atokatha, I will let you throw some questions at Dr. Cortes and I and we will field them as best we can. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thank you so much, Emily and Antonio, for all the information you shared this afternoon. Thank you for making these survey results available to our community. I want to remind our audience, if you have any questions, please type them into the questions box. We’ll get to as many of them as we can throughout the remaining time that we have.  


All right, so here comes some questions, Emily and Antonio. First up, what does success look like, what does failure look like and how are agencies assessing or measuring the impact of their work? 


Emily Holthaus: Antonio, you want to take that first one, go ahead. 


Antonio Cortes: So, success. That’s a tricky one, right? 


So, success looks different for each organization, depending upon where they’re at, in terms of just knowledge and experience with advancing DEIJ. So, for some, success is starting to have a conversation and devoting time for staff to raise concerns or raise ideas for consideration. Success might also look like resourcing for these efforts or changing how we hire or changing how we think about program design. It can look very different depending upon the organization and what you’re trying to accomplish.  


I think the other aspect, or the other kind of spectrum on that on that question, is, what does failure look like? I feel like I’m more clear on that. Failure is not doing anything. And, just kind of letting things be where they are because I’m a firm believer that when it comes to organizational functioning, as in general, there’s always room to improve. There’s always something that we can do better or more effectively, more efficiently, more thoughtfully.  


So, I do think that doing nothing at all is probably what failure looks like. And I think success, it can be quantified in a lot of different ways, but beginning is probably the easiest way to quantify it.  


Emily, feel free to jump in, this is a good question. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah. And I’m going to say, too, organizations that we work with that do their assessments to understand their current state, get their baseline, success really is making some decisions about, what are the two or three things that we’re going to prioritize in this area? And then setting up your baselines, whether it’s, “we’re going to increase our levels of belonging in our organization from our baseline,” or it’s that “we’re going to modify or shift how we do hiring or promotions and we’re actually going to do a process change and measure whether or not that’s working and if people are perceiving more equity within it.”  


So that’s one of the things we love to help organizations do is to understand current state, make some decisions about what you want to prioritize and then, say, “We’re going to set some baselines, or look at our baselines, and then set some targets around where we want to move and advance in these areas.” 


People will say to me all the time, “Emily, you can’t measure DEI, it’s intangible,” and I’m like, “You know, actually, you can.” You can get very clear measurements on levels of belonging, instances of microaggressions in your organization. You can also measure some of those data trends that Antonio was talking about. What is our retention rate? And then, when we slice them along identities, how does that shake out? Who’s staying longer? Who’s leaving earlier? Why? Who we’re promoting, et cetera. 


You can also very much know and understand the strength of the pools of your candidates that are coming in for roles. If we’re moving homogenous pools forward, we’re never going to achieve diversity outcomes. If we know and understand that we have the strength of the diversity of the pools of candidates that are coming in before we move them through processes, you can measure those things and pay attention to success in those areas. 


And I’m with Antonio that no action is a way to not be successful and letting being perfect and not being in action is a big one. But I think what’s almost worse is performative action, where we’re just going to do a few things because something major happened in the news this week. And we’re going to maybe do one training a year and check it off and say, “Oh, yes, we do DEI,” when it is so much more than that.  


So, getting into a place where you can listen and understand what’s currently happening, help your stakeholders in your organization design and prioritize strategy together and start moving, versus just doing a couple of quick things and calling it good in that performative space, is a thing that I think is really important. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thank you. Here’s the next question.  


For organizations starting this work, what are tips for things that should be part of a diversity statement or better yet, a position statement? How do we begin this? And what should we consider? 


Emily Holthaus: I can jump on that one as I was just helping somebody with this exact thing the other day. I think it’s important to be honest about what your starting point is. And sometimes we have all of these big aspirations about what we want to be, but they’re so far from what our current state is, that when we put that out there, our communities and our staff are like, “Wait a minute! We’re not even close to this. Why we are saying this is who we are and what we want to do?” So it’s finding that balance between where you currently are and where you want to go, and be able to message that gap appropriately. 


I tell people, don’t shy away from it, because it’s a journey, and your starting point is your starting point. But what you don’t want to do is to put smoke and mirrors up to allow your vision statement to feel like you’re doing better than you actually are. I think the organizations that do this well, they acknowledge their starting point, and they say things like, “We know we’re not going to be perfect, we’re going to make mistakes, but we’re going to keep moving forward. We’re also going to engage stakeholders of a variety of perspectives to guide us in this work to help us move.” So it’s really that humility, also, that comes with how you create your statements and engaging other people and asking the question, who do we want to be in this space? What’s important to us about being in this space? How does a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and justice help us advance our mission? 


And getting those core questions around the why answered first. Why are you doing this work? Why is it important to you? And using that as the foundation to build your statement and your aspirations for what you want to be in the future. 


Antonio, I don’t know if there’s anything else you would add. 


Antonio Cortes: Yeah, I agree with everything you said, Emily. I think being truthful and honest about you’re at is important. Because people will hold you accountable for where you say you are versus where you might actually be.  


Other things to consider as you’re creating your statement are who’s involved in the crafting of that process? And so, many of my clients, very quickly in the process, realize that they should be gathering input or feedback from a variety of stakeholder groups, such as, potentially, the board or other staff across your organization. 


And so, whether you decide you’re going to have a small group or a subgroup of people in the organization to help design and draft it, many of my clients have found that it’s been helpful to get quick feedback, either via socializing it in the meeting, with all staff or other stakeholders, again, such as the board, to solicit their reactions and feedback before they finalize it. So that’s just something to consider because it’s very difficult to get it just right. But the more input that organizations often aspire to gather, work to gather, typically ends up helping them gain clarity in where they ultimately land. 


And then the last thing I’ll say about DEIJ statements is that you have the ability to go back and change it down the road. If things change or you’re just financially advancing faster than you expected, or that, you’re accomplishing some of the things that became aspirational at the beginning and now they’re just part of how you do business, it’s OK to go back and adjust and tweak it based off of your organization’s growth and learning. So just keep that in your back pocket as time goes on, and so even if you don’t get it just right, or just perfect right now, you can always edit it and improve it. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, and I would say, the last thing I would add, that you made me think about, Antonio, is don’t let this be the only thing you do. This could be the first thing you do to frame it out. But then, don’t let the action stop there, putting the statement out and then nothing else is a big indicator of that performative piece that I was talking about before.  


So it can be a first step, but then it needs to be a step in let’s get into action to do some other things strategically then to work to make that statement come to life in the organization. So that folks that interact with you see the statement and then once they come to your organization, start to experience and feel that statement coming to life as well. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thanks a lot. I think your last statement, Emily, perfectly aligns with this next question, which is, what are best practice suggestions when moving from performative DEIJ activities to organization transformation? 


Emily Holthaus: And I’m going to say, I’m going to hold that question because we actually have a top 10 list for the group to end this call that does exactly that. We’re going to run down the top 10 best practices that help people move from that performative space into integrated. So I’m going to hold on to that question because we’re actually going to address that in pretty strong detail after the Q&A.  


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: OK, do you want to proceed on the rest of the content, or do you want more questions? 


Emily Holthaus: Let’s do a few more questions, and then jump into our top 10 list to close out for today, which we’ll get directly to whoever asked that question. Hang on with us, and we’re going to give you some really great tangible things here in a moment. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: All right. How might organizations begin introducing learnings from your findings in a practical way that does not create more work for staff of color? Currently, our efforts seem to create more pressure and pain on staff with the least organizational power. 


Emily Holthaus: That’s an excellent question. Antonio, you want to grab it first?  


Antonio Cortes: Sure, I think we’re going to need to tag team this one, though. That’s a big one, and that’s a heavy one, I want to acknowledge that. That’s conversations that I have actively with a lot of our clients. 


I would say that this goes back firstly to having leadership really playing an active role in these efforts, organizationally. Because, at the end of the day, organizational change doesn’t necessarily come about if you don’t have significant buy-in or involvement from senior leadership. So, whatever that looks like, whether it’s them actively doing some work or being present. Whatever decisions need to be made and you want to send feedback up, I think senior leadership has to own a portion of this work and to alleviate the fact that, this sometimes may fall on individuals who are identified as the less represented populations, whatever the demographic or dimension of diversity is. So, that’s one. 


Another thought that I have is that, in addition to just leadership’s commitment and involvement, this is something that should be seen as an organizational effort, not as an effort that requires specific individuals to provide input or feedback, or kind of say, “Hey, I think we should do this differently.”  


This is an organization-wide situation, where we all have to kind of learn from each other, from other people, potentially even outside the organization, sometimes our own, and really carrying the weight as a whole. So this isn’t, if Emily and I were the only two in our organization that were talking about this and saying, “Hey, we have ideas,” you get burnt out pretty fast, so this is really something that everyone should feel some type of involvement or attachment to, recognizing that we all potentially could have a different role to play, depending upon our job and what we do in the organization. 


But this shouldn’t feel like it’s really owned by just a couple of folks or a small group of people. This should be something that we all kind of feel ownership of across our organization. But, Emily, I welcome some additional thoughts on your side on how we address this, because it’s a big question. 


Emily Holthaus: One hundred percent. We don’t expect the people of color in our organization to bear the burden and educate everyone else as part of our training and learning programs. Every single person in the organization needs to lead differently and behave differently in order for us to achieve these outcomes, and so, I agree 100% that it needs to be distributed.  


The other thing that’s important, though, is as you’re deciding how you’re going to design learning solutions, do you create some spaces where folks who identify as white get together and talk about their accountability to advancing DEIJ and what that means? Do you create some supportive spaces for communities of color that might be underrepresented to help them to move through? And then, do you also create those joint spaces, where we can figure out, learn together, work together, so that when we’re doing the hard work of unpacking all of the burden of sharing examples and reliving things doesn’t fall on people of color in the room, but to be able to have that work be done in ways in which it doesn’t create that burden.  


And I think we all know as consultants, Antonio and I do this work, that when we come in the room to do training for organizations, we’re in that place to get paid to share our stories and our experiences, so that we’re not putting that trauma and burden on other people of color or underrepresented groups in the organization to do that on their own.  


But I think it’s an important part to balance with the organization. Because oftentimes, we’ll come in and there’ll be a diversity committee that’s been created and it’s made up of all the underrepresented people in the organization. And they’re saying, “Hey, go fix this for us, go figure out what we want to do.” And what we’re saying is we don’t want that dynamic to exist, because in order for equity to be achieved, those who have the most power in the organization, those potentially in the majority, need to do equal work as everyone else to sort of undo some of the things that are happening. So, it definitely needs to be distributed.  


And then when you do training, make sure you’re getting feedback. How does it resonate? How well did it work? How are people receiving information? How are people feeling that they can plug in information? 


So all of those things, as you’re doing learning, ask questions about how people are receiving it and if it’s working for them. And if it’s not, working, shift or change the approach to help support everybody to be able to learn together in the organization. 


It’s a great question, whoever asked that. It’s tough. It’s not easy. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thanks so much, Emily and Antonio. Here’s another question. 


How do organizations know when it’s time to move from including DEI priorities and objectives in the role of the CHRO, or chief human resources officer, to actually having that standalone professional own the DEI strategy for an organization, or a chief diversity officer? 


Emily Holthaus: That’s a good one. 


And I think that the answer is, it depends, right? So, I think, we know that diversity, equity and inclusion work is very nuanced. It’s very complex. And sometimes we come into organizations where it’s been put into the HR function, but that leader is an HR professional and they may not necessarily have the training or the background or the expertise and experience to really advance DEI work. 


And so, if your organization is large enough, if you really are tying this directly to your strategy and you have a plan, to me, the best way is you’re going to need expertise in DEI to be able to advance and move it forward in a meaningful way. And HR definitely has a big role to play, because the HR lifecycle is where bias creeps into organizations faster than almost any other place in the organization. So, HR has a key role to play, but oftentimes, we don’t want to position HR if they don’t have the expertise and comfort level to be able to do it, because that’s how the work will often get stalled. Or, potentially, we’re going to do things that are going to work counter to us actually advancing them. 


And as Antonio pointed out before, the data talked about at that senior level of the organization, the executive director, the CEO, also has to have a wave of accountability. Because what you don’t want to do is put it all in HR or hire a DEI person and say, “Oh, it’s all you to make this happen.” The responsibility has to distribute also across the executive senior leadership teams, potentially even some accountability within your board as well. But there is something to be said about, if your organization is really serious about prioritizing it, having those experts in-house is important. Or some organizations do work with us, and it’s in the HR function, but they’ll partner with us as an expert. But either way, you need to have someone with DEI expertise that’s helping you to advance this work. 


Antonio, what else would you say on that one? 


Antonio Cortes: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think, I do want to acknowledge that there are some practical limitations to when and if, right? 


So, budget size, staff size, sometimes those are just physical constraints that organizations say, “You know, we don’t have the resources to have a dedicated staff member when that would be at the cost of other things that are prioritized or imperative for organizational sustainability.” 


But I would also look at it on the other dimension of saying, “Well, what value add might a DEI professional or role add to our organization?” That would lift a burden, potentially, off of your chief human resources staff member, so that they can focus on core HR processes and advancing those in a way that’s more effective for the organization. 


Because, what we sometimes find, I find—I’ll speak in “I” statements here—that when we have someone who’s both in charge of human resources and DEI in kind of a dual role, it becomes very hard to accomplish everything and to focus deeply on everything. It’s possible, but I think when we get to this point where we can separate that out and let someone be a core expert, you get to do some really interesting things that go beyond what that existing world might have been.  


So, a practical example here I think might be helpful. If I have a DEI professional who’s also residing in HR, they probably also have less experience with external-facing DEI work. So thinking about programmatic development and design, reaching external stakeholders, they probably don’t have the same skill sets in, again, my experience. So, a DEI professional as a standalone role might be able to straddle both sides of that with your organization, thinking both internal and external about how things are applied. So, I think there’s a number of, back to Emily’s point, it depends. There’s a number of considerations that you should probably walk through in terms of what your expectations are of what this individual might be able to do in terms of helping your organization grow, and what that might look like. And then, identifying at that point, does it make sense to have a dedicated staff member to do those types of things? 


Emily Holthaus: Thank you, Antonio. And Atokatha, I feel like we can maybe take one more question, and then that’ll give us enough time to end with our top 10 for today. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Absolutely, so here’s the last question.  


How are organizations who don’t consider themselves to be a social justice organization able to define their role within the SJ space and conversation? 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, that’s an interesting one. And this is one I wish Dr. Forester was on with us today. She’s been doing a lot of work with us on this. But I think, not everyone is comfortable in the social justice space, necessarily, and I’ve worked with a lot of organizations that say, because oftentimes right now, that conversation is a partisan conversation, and there’s differing views or vantage points. And a lot of our organizations really try to remain non-partisan. 


My advice always is, how does having a just world impact your mission? Why is having a just world important to you, advancing your mission and doing the work that you do? And centering on why this matters to your organization and to your mission, and then leaning in in those ways. So if you are an organization that serves young people, how—in what ways do injustices impact young people and your constituents? And how can you begin to be a part of that conversation to drive it forward? Or if you are an organization that works in medicine, for instance, how do inequities and injustices related to patient care impact your organization? And how do you need to be part of that conversation related to justice? So that’s usually the advice I have is to find that intersection between this conversation and your mission, and then start there with how you prioritize. 


And Antonio, what else would you add? 


Antonio Cortes: Yeah. I like this question a lot, because I actually think about this in a little bit of a different way in that there there’s no need to attach this to social justice work, necessarily. I think, at the end of the day, a lot of what we do, internally for organizations, is just really enhancing good HR. At the end of the day, right? 


So, if I have transparent processes and systems, that’s good for everyone, because we all know how things work, I know how my pay is determined. I know that I’m paid fairly, because there’s transparency in how things work. Same is true for performance management and everything else. 


So, I think at the end of the day, these just really help organizations function more optimally. And yes, they do, at the end of the day, contribute to things like people feel like they belong at the organization more, they feel like they are welcomed or that their perspective is included. Those are great outcomes that we also like to see advanced, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be in direct connection or even at odds with social justice. You don’t have to be a social-justice-focused organization to have a strong culture of inclusion and have equitable processes in place.  


I think these are things that just help organizations function better, could, at the end of the day, improve staff retention, improve your ability to attract staff, in general, as you go forward. So, I would say, focus more on what you can gain from implementing some of this work in your organization, how you might change and what the benefits might be to your organization. 


I agree with Emily. I don’t see this as a partisan conversation, actually, like conservatives and democrats and everyone on the spectrum of whatever your belief structure, I think we can all benefit from this type of work. Because at the end of the day, it either helps us get more information on how things work in our organization, or it provides a culture and an environment where I feel a little bit more welcomed. And that can contribute to employee engagement, which I think the argument there is a little bit more clear, that engagement contributes to productivity and profitability, sustainability of the organization. So, if we can move the needle in that direction, I think these are all good things. 


Emily Holthaus: And we are going to move into just some of what we’re calling our top 10 recommendations to support the work that we’re doing here. 


And I’m going to make sure that I still have—oops—the ability to move. 


So, we want to talk about how we begin to get into action and some tips to do that. And so, we asked this question as well on the survey, do you believe your organization is making good progress toward your goals? Are you getting into action?  


And you’ll see how most of the respondents are in that “agree” and “somewhat agree,” that blues in the middle there. We have some that are saying, “No, we’re not making good progress,” and some people saying, “Yes, we strongly agree in are.”  


And so, we want to end today with just some tips around how to begin to take action with DEI, how to do it in meaningful ways that are not going to create that performative nature that we talked about before, that we want you to avoid. And so, these are best practices and tips based on this data set that we just looked at today. 


So, we’re going to do its top-10 style, and we’re going to do it in the do’s and don’ts with the top-10 style. So, Antonio and I, we’ll go back and forth here. And I’ll start with number 10, we’re going to count it down.  


So, our number 10 is, do ground your organization in a shared meaning around DEI, making sure that people know and understand, what does diversity, equity, inclusion and justice mean for our organization?  


And then, the don’t is, don’t assume everyone understands DEI and is starting in the same place. We know that people have a variety of different understanding, a variety of comfort levels, and it’s important for us to really get clarity on, what does this mean for our organization? And get everyone on the same page. 


Antonio Cortes: Number nine.  


So, what we’d like to see do, is gaining clarity about why you want to engage in DEI work and how it connects to your overall mission. We talked earlier in today’s presentation and results around spending the time to focus on, is it a statement, is it something else? Having that clarity as to what the rationale is, what you hope to gain, from the process of beginning a diversity, equity, inclusion and justice journey is really critical to your success, long term.  


And on the other side, for what you’d want to avoid, is engaging in sporadic DEI work because something happened in society or there’s a trend. You see other organizations putting out statements in reaction to things that are happening. That doesn’t land well with staff. And it tends not to land well with external stakeholders either because it doesn’t seem like there’s any type of strategy or thoughtfulness behind it. 


So, you really want to get clarity as to why are we responding to something in a particular way or why are we prioritizing something? Because that’ll be more meaningful when people come back and say, “Well, why did you do that? Or why did you focus in on that particular situation and make a statement?” You’ll have answers for those questions. 


Emily Holthaus: All right. Number eight, here’s our number eight do.  


Do prominently share your commitment to DEI across your virtual footprint. And we know that, that there is this huge transition with talent right now. People are moving in between organizations, they’re making decisions about where they want to work, who they want to engage with. And one of the first things that people will do is, they will Google you, they’ll look at your website, they’ll look at what is being said on Indeed and Glassdoor and across your Facebook or Twitter, or other platforms that you utilize. So having your DEI and justice commitments prominent is really important across your virtual footprint. 


Don’t allow your DEI commitment to be absent or buried on your website. If you say you care about it, and remember that data—we have 77% saying, “Yes, we care about these things”—but if I start to look and I can’t see any commitments, I’m going to say, “Well, do they really care about it?” How are we really demonstrating our commitment? So, making sure that it’s prominent, and that I’m not going to have to go through 10 clicks to find your commitment to DEI and justice. 


Antonio Cortes: Number seven.  


So definitely position DEI as a long-term journey that is connected to the strategy and mission of your organization. Really at the end of the day, the more ingrained and interconnected your DEIJ efforts are and where they show up is going to help you sustain the efforts and work and ability to actually achieve those meaningful organizational changes that you’re hoping to accomplish.  


And on the other side, don’t expect immediate DEI outcomes. This is the hard part for a lot of organizations that are beginning this work, is they lose sight of the fact that this is actually, in many cases, changing your organizational culture to become more effective. And that means it’s distinctly different than how it operates today.  


So, change doesn’t come easy. We’re all humans and we want to be mindful that. But also, knowing that if we are changing the way we behave over time, those behavior changes, those changes in organizational processes and systems, those changes in our goals and our strategies will ultimately get us to where we’re going, as we begin to grow and understand how to more effectively apply and integrate things. So, it takes time. 


Emily Holthaus: All right. Number six. 


Here’s our do: Do gather demographic data and trends to inform strategy and action. If you take nothing else from us today, just don’t be afraid of your data. Collect it, understand it, know what is happening related to your current state. 


The don’t on this side is hiding or suppressing demographic data. Sometimes organizations will say, “Well, Emily, we don’t want to publish these things, because they’re not what we want them to be.” And they sort of shy away from that or hide it or suppress it. Well, I’m going to say, everyone knows what it is, really. The people that work in your organization know these things to be true, and it’s not going to be in your best interest to just hide or shy away from sharing your current state and your data and just saying, “We’re working on it. We’re working on shifting or changing these things.”  


The other thing is, when we don’t look at the data, it also reduces our urgency to do something about it. When you look at your data, you pay attention, you might get some surprises but you’re like, “You know what? Now, I have the foundation I see to help us to get those baselines to be able to move forward in this work and understand where we want to go.” Because if you don’t have a sense of what your current state is, your current situation, you almost have no chance of being able to create meaningful strategy to move forward, so don’t be afraid of the demographic data. Don’t suppress it, engage with it. 


Antonio Cortes: Number five.  


So, do involve diverse identities, vantage points, levels and roles as you decide how you’re going to design your strategy. And we talked about this. Again, the results—we’re seeing a lot of organizations are in the affirmative moving in this direction and trying to have a good representation of stakeholders across the organization. 


And the rationale here is that we have, hopefully, by involving a variety of stakeholders, that we will get to better answers, better clarity on how things are impacting different individuals in the organization. And I always use this example. You would never ask me to solve a situation or a problem that was specific to women, unless we’re also including women in that conversation. And the same is true for everything within the organization. You want to have as many vantage points and perspectives as possible. 


And on the other side of this, we don’t want to enlist a small group at the top of the organization to design strategy. And the rationale here, again, is that our top-level executives, our senior leaders in organizations, you are always thinking strategically, it’s part of your role, but always being in that brain space limits your experience and perspectives on how others in the organization might be experiencing things. And so, that allows us to have a more holistic view on what’s happening in our organization or how different things are experienced when we invite other stakeholders to share their experiences. And sometimes, actually a lot of times, I’ll say it illuminates blind—not blind spots, but just different things that we didn’t know about the organization simply because we hadn’t experienced them personally. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, great. 


All right, number four. 


Do. Do hold senior leaders and people managers accountable to DEI and set them up for success. Give them the tools and resources they need to be successful. We talked about this earlier, but accountability to this work has to be across the organization. What’s important here to note is those who manage others have a huge role to play in making sure that this happens. And so, people managers need to be held accountable. They need to understand how what they do matters, specifically, when those things that are more difficult, around creating a culture of inclusion and ensuring that folks belong, people managers have very strong control over what they do for their teams to advance that or what they do that might be working counter against that. 


The don’t here is placing the sole responsibility of DEI within HR or a DEI function that has no power to create real change. And we talked about this a little bit earlier, we won’t go over it again, but just making sure that accountability is distributed in places where it needs to be distributed. So, people managers, at senior levels, with your board, not just solely in HR or a DEI function that does not have the power to make the real changes there. 


Antonio Cortes: Number three.  


Do spend time in discovery and assessment to understand where your organization is currently in relation to diversity, equity and inclusion. 


A lot of organizations sometimes want to just get started and jump into the work, but it’s hard to have clear goals and understanding of where you should be going or could be going, if you don’t know where you’re at today. And so that’s true of just about anything that I can think of, whether it be your personal health or your organizational health. Really get a good baseline as to what’s working in our organization currently, what are we already doing well, and what are we not doing? And gaining some objective clarity on that front. 


And then, don’t create strategy and take large-scale efforts without understanding where you’re at today. As I was alluding to on the other side, really making sure that we are on the right path, that we’re going towards the goals that are most meaningful to the organization, the ones that will give us the most return on our investment are going to be the ones where we want to spend energy. So, creating goals without having the clarity as to what we could or should be doing is often at the detriment to organizational success and sometimes can put us down on a path that we’re trying to address things that don’t need attention. And that’s why the same is true of training and anything else. You want to train to resolve whatever the issue is.  


And so, strategy is really important, but you have to understand, what are the pieces I should be paying attention to before I develop that strategy? 


Emily Holthaus: Thank you. I always call that, that’s like blindfolding yourself and trying to throw darts at the board and hoping that you’re hitting bullseyes, right? It just doesn’t happen that way. It needs to be intentional. 


So number two.  


Do have a written strategy and plan to get into action. And I think, remember the data from before, there was a lot of people that said they cared about it, and then that percentage of folks that actually had a strategy and plan was incredibly small. And what we know and understand is that, if we don’t have a written strategy and plan and we’re doing a lot of random things, we’re not going to see the changes in which we want to see in this area and it’s not going to be integrated. We’re going to get into more of that check-box type of situation. So, strategically looking at this and having a written plan is a really important way to go.  


And then, this is what I said earlier. Don’t create a DEI statement as your single action, and say, “Oh, we got a statement. Now, we’re good.” Because what people care about, they want to know what you believe and what you say, but more importantly, they want to see what you do, and your employees and your constituents want to feel that strategy coming to life in the organization. So, having that single DEI statement is a first step, but it is not a single step. And that’s a really important misstep that we see a lot of organizations making, so don’t do that. 


All right, Antonio, I’m going to give you number one. Here we go. 


Antonio Cortes: Number one, drum roll.  


So, we definitely do want to see organizations engage people from all identities at a variety of levels to solve for whatever diversity, equity, inclusion and justice issues that you are currently grappling with. 


Again, we have said this in a number of different ways throughout today’s discussion, but that allows us to have the best picture as to where we’re at today and what are the things that are most pressing for us to solve. 


And then, the don’t, is actually directly related to a question that we fielded earlier from one of the participants, is to not expect people of color in your organization to solve all of your DEIJ issues. While they might be the primary individuals that are experiencing the impact of certain inequities and inequalities in your organization, they are not necessarily the best position to resolve those issues, whether it be due to organizational role that they play or hold, or simply because they lack the energy to continue trying to advance and address an issue that they’ve been struggling with for quite some time. So we really want to make sure that this is, again, a dispersed responsibility across your organization, that we all have a role to play. And so, this is definitely our number-one DEIJ do and don’t on this list today.  


And so, Emily, I think we might have a little extra time still. So, if we want to field some additional questions, I think we could. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, and I’m just going to—here’s the tip for today. Do the do’s and not the don’ts. And we try to give you this high-level advice, but based on the data set and some of the things we think are really important, just try to focus on—and we know it’s a lot, so you don’t have to do everything at once. But start to think about how your organization is framing this work, why it’s really important to get to those foundational pieces in place and then, start moving through getting into some of those do’s and getting into action for this work. 


So, Atokatha, I’ll turn it back to you and let you close us out and let us know what you think is best from this point as we close. So, we appreciate all of you joining us for the conversation today. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Absolutely. 


Thank you again, Emily and Antonio. Yes, I can get over two more questions I think we might be able to squeeze them in. Here’s the first one. 


We’re just getting started and have decided to evaluate our work culture first and then our DEIJ culture. Do you believe there is a difference between the two initiatives? 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah. I’m going to say no, I think they’re pretty intrinsically linked, how people are experiencing your organization from a culture perspective. Also, everyone’s vantage points shape how they experience culture, so one of the things that we always talk about and ask about is when we’re focused on culture-related questions, those things are directly related to engagement, they’re related to inclusion, they’re related to belonging. 


And what we have to know and understand when we’re asking culture-related questions is, oftentimes we’ll ask and we’ll give you baselines back for culture, and it’ll show, “Oh, we’re doing pretty well.” But then, if you go to the next level and say, “Let’s splice these responses by identity or role.” And then, when we pull it up a little bit further and look under, we might say, “Oh, 80% of our team is experiencing high levels of belonging or engagement.” But when we look underneath, we might say, “Oh, staff that identify as Asian are only experiencing it at a 60% mark,” or “Staff from the LGBTQ+ community are only experiencing belonging and engagement at 65% mark.” So the overlay of DEI and culture, to me, is critical. I really think you should try to look at it together, because people’s identities impact their experience within a culture. So, to me, they’re intrinsically tied.  


Antonio, what do you think? 


Antonio Cortes: I’m at 100% agreement. 


I do think that a thorough DEI assessment will include a mix of things that are specific to inclusion and belonging, but also some general satisfaction and engagement questions. And as Emily said, when you start to look at group comparisons, you will likely find that there are certain groups in the organization that have a different perspective or different experience. Even if the general consensus is, “Yeah, things are pretty good,” but there might be certain groups of people that are saying, “Yes, it could definitely be better for us,” and trying to get at the root of what that is, is often lost in a general cultural assessment, in my experience. 


And so, I think going, as I’m going to say, to that next level and incorporating basically all of it in one process seems to be a little bit more complete and allows us to surface some things that will give us clarity on whether or not, if I’m experiencing the organization differently, is it because of a culture concern, or is it because of a system concern? And that’s where I think a DEI assessment goes a little bit further to helping gain that clarity on that question of which place to focus on. 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thank you both, and our last question has to do with the J in this survey name, DEIJ. And we have someone who’s asking if we can expand on that to help understand why it’s necessary and what it means. 


Antonio Cortes: I can take that one first and so, we’ve actually, recently, as a team, had this discussion and I think it’s important to understand the difference between equity and justice explicitly. And so, equity is when people are having different experiences or different outcomes and we address something that will allow that to equalize. And so, we’re not necessarily addressing the root cause of why something is negatively experienced within an organization. So, if I observe that promotional differences are showing up between men and women. Equity would be me doing something to help that group that’s underpromoted, get promoted at more equal rates. 


Now, if I’m focusing on justice, I’m addressing the actual system that causes that outcome, so I might be implementing manager training. So that way, we are reducing unconscious bias. I might change the process itself of how people get promoted, provide more transparency, more clarity on how it works. I could do a host of other different things to ensure that the processes are more fair and equitable, by design. 


And so, I think when I think about justice in the organizational context, it’s really about addressing the root cause of issues of discrepancy and inequity, and resolving those, versus putting in things that help us get around it. Which I think a lot of organizations do, and sometimes it does get us to a better place, but justice really gets us to this place of deeply resolving the issue of something.  


But, Emily, feel free to jump in on this one. 


Emily Holthaus: Yeah, I was just thinking that. The question that comes to my mind is, what is keeping the current conditions in place that’s creating these potential inequities for everyone? And how do we begin to adjust those at that very deep level, versus Band-Aid approaches that address inequities that help us to move through them?  


And I think, justice is the outcome for why we want to do this work. Justice is the idea that we want anyone who works with us, those that we engage with, as participants to experience an environment where there aren’t barriers for them to be successful with us. Justice is that overarching umbrella that says, “We’re going to pay attention to where there might be barriers to access at that very deep-root level,” that Antonio was talking about, and “We’re going to do what we can to reimagine, fix, dismantle, take away those places that are preventing those barriers from being in place so that we’re creating a just environment for anyone who walks in our door.” 


And it’s not easy to do and it’s a journey. But, at the end of the day, that is where we want…this is my own personal view. I want to be part of a just world where we don’t need accommodations for things because things work well for everyone. And that implicit biases and these others things don’t prevent certain demographics or identities from receiving justice in our spaces and places and experiencing access to opportunities, and so forth. 


So, it’s basically a way in which you want to holistically view this work as an end that you’re working toward for everyone.  


So, it’s definitely nuanced, and it is different than what—in an organization it’s different than the criminal justice system. Sometimes we use that word, or that’s where our brain goes, but really, it’s about, how can we create environments where people can have access to opportunities without running into barriers that are preventing them that are very much at the deep-root level that have happened over time? 


Atokatha Ashmond Brew: Thank you so much again, Emily and Antonio, for such a great webinar and presentation. That’s all the time we have today for our Q&A. Thank you to everyone who attended today’s webinar. We hope you found it valuable.  


We have many more upcoming events including the third in our series of DEIJ webinars. Check out the list of topics and dates. Visit nonprofithr.com/events and register. Also, please be sure to complete the feedback survey that will pop up once the webcast has ended. If you would like more information about available services or support from Nonprofit HR, email info@nonprofithr.com, or visit us online at nonprofithr.com. Again, thank you so much for joining. Thank you so much to our presenters and have a great afternoon. 


Emily Holthaus: Thanks, everyone.