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Using Measurement and Metrics

As publishing organizations look to improve racial equity, assessing the status quo—identifying areas of strength to build on as well as barriers to achieving more inclusive work environments—is the first step on the path to becoming antiracist organizations.

Published onAug 25, 2021
Using Measurement and Metrics
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As publishing organizations look to improve racial equity, assessing the status quo—identifying areas of strength to build on as well as barriers to achieving more inclusive work environments—is the first step on the path to becoming antiracist organizations.

Planning an Assessment

Careful planning and preparation are necessary to ensure success in the process of conducting any assessment, but this is particularly true in the context of racial equity. How can organizations ensure readiness?

  • Gain commitments from leadership regarding the process and clarity on its value for the organization and its key stakeholders.

  • Determine whether the process will be administered by an external consultant or use internal human and material resources.

  • Develop a common vocabulary related to racial equity issues and terms related to the implementation of the process.

  • Create a timeline for implementation and provision of final reports and recommendations.

  • Develop a communication plan that will guide the organization through the logistics of the process, establish consistency of messaging, and align the process with institutional values and mission.

    • Include announcements related to project initiation, assessment period(s), and key milestones.

  • Establish a working group (or identify an existing one) that will help shepherd the process, encourage or incentivize broad participation, and ensure communication with relevant stakeholders.

    • The oversight group should be populated (when possible) with representatives from a range of employee classifications, as well as leadership/managerial ranks.

    • The group should reflect broad representational identity (across gender, race, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics).

  • Decide how the data collected will be used and the frequency with which the climate will be reassessed, providing time and space for interventions (improvement strategies) to be designed, implemented, and reassessed.

In addition to these steps, both organizational leadership and the implementation working group will want to consider, create a narrative around, and be prepared to respond to possible resistance and common misconceptions about the assessment. These may include:

  • Inexperience and fear about the process;

  • Conflict avoidance patterns and the white cultural norm of the right to comfort;

  • For people of marginalized populations, the fear of tokenism, othering, and exoticism; and

  • Capacity issues within the organization.

Finally, decisions with respect to the disaggregation of data must be addressed, particularly in organizations that have very small populations of employees from marginalized populations. Often, fear of retribution prevents people who identify as BIPOC from sharing candidly about their experiences in the organization. Guarantees of anonymity must be a consistent part of the messaging, along with assurances from leadership groups, managers, or others with titular or other types of power that no negative consequences will result from complete honesty and authenticity in the process. Data disaggregation is a necessary part of the process, as analyzing climate data only in the aggregate will not provide a realistic view as to the experiences of marginalized populations within the organization. Great care must be taken to socialize leadership groups before they are presented with any data (results). Leaders must be prepared for the possibility of receiving uncomfortable truths and encouraged to make a commitment to use that information to create meaningful improvement.

Completing an Assessment

Many assessment tools are proprietary; throughout this section, we’ve highlighted some options available in types of assessment projects and common themes.

Accountability

An antiracist organization must be accountable through management to the individual worker. Those in leadership must engage and empower staff to challenge how the business is meeting its commitments and also to ensure its DEI work cannot simply be ignored.

Employees will rightly ask what those in power are doing about racism in your organization and in the wider industry. This accountability is not just for management but also for the white, power-holding majority of workers. Focusing only on power structures can lead to the belief that racism is somebody else’s problem, especially if abstract strategies don’t filter down into day-to-day business.

You don’t have to single-handedly correct for centuries of racism and sexism in all systems, but you do need to help restore balance in the ones you control… Transformational leaders confront the bias in the systems around them and start holding people accountable to aspirational behaviors and practices.

— Tiffany Jana, founder and CEO of TMI Consulting Incorporated [1]

Metrics

To facilitate transparency, DEI commitments should be measurable. Unfortunately, most organizations involved in scholarly communications lack such metrics. In late 2020, The New York Times reported that major publishers do not typically collect data on the race of their authors, undermining publicly stated commitments to racial diversity. “What does it mean to say ‘I’m in favor of diversity’ when you haven’t even reckoned with what the state of diversity is in your own institution?” asked Dr. Joël Babdor, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was invited to write about his experiences [2].

The collected data are often not granular enough to be helpful, with authors of ethnic minorities often bundled together in a single data category (e.g., BIPOC). This theme extends to research funding, prompting The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEMM to call for better quality data from UK Research and Innovation [3]. The subsequent release of more detailed data made evident the massive barriers facing Black researchers [4]. Transparency provides a basis for comparison and improvement. 

Using Data the Right Way

Getting the right data is an important starting point, but it is crucial to use them in a meaningful way. “One of the failures of diversity work is nebulous goals,” according to Dr. Tiffany Jana. “You need concrete objectives tied to data” [5]. There is also a challenge in making company-wide data meaningful for an individual decision-maker. In their Harvard Business Review article, “How to Best Use Data to Meet Your DE&I Goals” [6], Siri Chilazi and Iris Bohnet use the example of the London Organizing Committee of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) rapidly taking on 200,000 new staff and exceeding their diversity targets. LOCOG achieved this by making diversity data meaningful and relevant through regular, tailored reporting across the business, benchmarking, and providing a basis for action if targets were not met.

Organizational Structure

Most organizations have a centralized structure, with a top-down decision-making process. It is tempting for management to leverage this structure in an attempt to get tough on racism, but a wealth of data [7] suggests such approaches can have the opposite effect, embedding biases and leading to less diversity in the workplace. In the Harvard Business Review’s “Why Diversity Programs Fail,” Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev highlight three common tools that suffer from this prescriptive approach: mandatory diversity training, hiring tests, and performance ratings [8]. Rather than enabling managers and their staff to proactively work toward antiracist goals, these tools have limited long-term impact and are seen as box-checking exercises. 

In contrast, the approaches that develop accountability are typically built on lasting behavioral change. Increasing managers’ active engagement in DEI is a prime example. While an individual may need a critical incident to wake them to their role in white supremacy (see the first step in Bobbie Harro’s model of liberation [9]), they truly change behavior when convinced they can be part of the solution.

Behavioral change often takes root at the edges and spreads through networks. For example, Twitter usage, the U.S. civil rights movement, and engagement with Black Lives Matter all grew through a network model of local influence [10], [11], [12]. This model relies on the reinforcing behavior of a small number of peers with whom an individual interacts regularly. It particularly contrasts to very wide-reaching, impersonal, or top-down policies that seek to effect behavioral change but with shallower roots. Given the need for organizations to embed antiracism across the entire workforce, are those in management allowing employees to challenge business operations and the power structures at play? 

Managing the Assessment

Organizations will first need to determine whether to engage an external consultant or use internal resources to manage the assessment. Budgetary considerations will certainly determine what is feasible, as will the size of the organization or unit conducting the assessment. We examine some of the pros and cons to each approach.

An external consultant can:

  • Add or ensure objectivity in the process and results in bias reduction.

  • Empower participants to provide input/data reflective of their authentic perceptions.

  • Bring expertise (i.e., data analysis, survey design) that the organization does not have or does not have the capacity to facilitate.

  • Free the organization of the added workload for and responsibilities of conducting the audit.

  • Provide standardized data for benchmarking.

  • Enable anonymized data.

Internal resources can:

  • Be more cost-effective or reduce the need for capital outlay.

  • Own and curate the data.

  • Administer the audit on a regular schedule.

  • Use inside information and context to interpret the data and results.

  • Allocate resources to incentivize participation.

  • Leverage internal expertise to determine and customize the methodologies and technologies that will maximize participation.

  • Customize instruments to reflect the unique organizational structures, mission, and scope.

Getting Started

Organizations commonly fail to create a shared understanding of the purpose of the assessment. Taking time on the front end to do so will ensure that outcomes match the initial goals. Organizations should begin by addressing the following questions.

  • Why now? What is the impetus for undertaking the assessment at this time?

  • Where does the assessment fit among other organizational priorities?

  • Who is leading the work? Who is expected to contribute?

  • What resources and stakeholders are important to involve?

  • When do we want to complete the project?

  • How will safety and authenticity be fostered?

Answering these questions may help you decide whether to manage the project internally or hire a consultant. The answers might also lend insight into your organizational readiness and professional competence in the area of racial justice. Finally, your answers will address the scope of the assessment; the project may be aimed narrowly at reviewing policies with an antiracist lens or more broadly seek to determine the pervasiveness of white supremacy culture in the organization. Regardless of the scope, climate assessments are intended to provide an inward look at an organization. They should not be conflated with an equity audit, which is intended to measure progress toward building an internal race equity strategy and agenda, if not to gauge the impact of mission on a defined set of stakeholders.

Organizational Benchmarking

First, your organization needs to measure key business metrics and practices to compare them to competitors, industry peers, or the broader marketplace to assess your position in the DEI spectrum (e.g., ethnicity, gender, race, disabilities). Beyond helping an organization know how you are doing on DEI metrics, organizational benchmarking helps put that knowledge into context.

Research consultancy Qlearsite notes the following benchmarking considerations: “Some companies score high for inclusion just because the company has a fairly homogeneous population i.e. low diversity. Of course, people will feel included if everybody looks and acts the same… Benchmarking inclusion scores is meaningless, as it doesn’t consider diversity levels… Organisations should consider what level of inclusion is acceptable—is 75% good, if 25% don’t feel included?” [13].

 To benchmark your organization, you can (where legally possible):

  • Conduct surveys run by internal or external bodies (e.g., Glint, Business in the Community).

  • Collect and use HR data (e.g., using tools like Workday).

Finally, it is important to communicate benchmarking results to your organization and ensure this information is accessible to all employees to effectively build support for DEI work. By understanding the gaps preventing the organization from reaching its goals, you will foster more supporters internally.

Employee Experience Assessments

To capture the inclusivity of an organization and its culture, it is important to go beyond human resource statistics and delve into the lived experience of BIPOC, as seen in The Scholarly Kitchen blog posts, “On Being Excluded: Testimonies by People of Color in Scholarly Publishing” (part I and part II). What is it like to be an employee of color in this organization? What experiences of exclusion have these employees had? What barriers do they face on a day-to-day basis? What can the organization do to address these issues? These are the kinds of questions not generally found on a multiple choice diversity and inclusion survey, but nonetheless are essential employee feedback. How can such information be obtained? One option is an additional survey supporting free text; others include listening circles and safe spaces. Key considerations are the expertise of those reading and assessing the surveys and whether feedback should be encouraged from all employees or just employees of color.

Also, be sure that these surveys measure the psychological safety employees feel—to get the most from your workforce, you must ensure that their basic needs are met, so they can shift from a survival mindset to a growth mindset [14], [15].

Exit Interviews

When employees leave, hold exit interviews to understand the qualitative reasoning for their departures. Such interviews are opportunities for employees to lay their opinions and experiences bare, providing important data for your organization. Use their feedback to your advantage to implement quick fixes, as well as longer-term change, for any common, underlying issues. Starting from scratch? Workable’s “How to conduct an effective exit interview” offers tips for managing an exit interview strategy.

Inviting Employee Feedback 

For maximum efficacy, it is vital that initiatives around DEI are specific so as not to dilute the learning objectives. For instance, training should focus on recognizing and addressing race-motivated microaggressions as opposed to merely discussing antibullying behavior in general.

There are a number of easy-to-implement steps that organizations can achieve by taking such a targeted approach. For example, the Cell Press journal group has implemented an inclusion and diversity statement to improve representation and visibility for marginalized groups by providing authors with the ability to disclose information on inclusion and diversity related to their publication. In an editorial, the Cell Editorial Team committed to four concrete actions: representing, educating, diversifying, and listening [16].

Such changes provide a tangible opportunity to affect all stakeholders throughout the chain of the publishing industry—authors, editors, reviewers, advisors, and readers. In turn, such initiatives can capture relevant data to support an organization’s antiracist efforts with concrete numbers for assessing the status quo and monitoring progress. They can further improve visibility for BIPOC authors and bring transparency to issues that need to be addressed, as well as core requirements necessary for the change process. 

In addition to external measures, it is vital for an organization to evaluate and report on internal DEI development. This begins with the human resources department’s ability to assess how diverse and inclusive their organization is by gathering anonymized data on the multifaceted identity backgrounds of their staff. Some countries may have legal restrictions regarding such activities, which human resources must navigate, while also investigating the possibilities of collecting information that will help inform the company’s overall talent acquisition and DEI development strategy.  

Employee feedback surveys (e.g., Officevibe) are common tools for assessing staff sentiments about how well the company is doing with DEI and antiracism efforts. While such surveys are constructed in a bidirectional way so that employees may return extensive feedback to specific questions, they must be handled with caution as they have the potential for mis- or underrepresenting racism and discriminatory behavior when the surveyed group consists largely of persons who are not affected by such behavior. It is therefore crucial to take the composition of the surveyed group into account and give urgent attention to any written feedback received from individuals who explicitly reveal problems within the organization—even if, compared with the overall data, it might represent a small percentage of staff. Companies run the risk of misinterpreting their survey data if those evaluating the results are not sensitized toward inherent biases of survey design and interpreting cross-cultural data adequately, which will result in inaction, instead of making improvements and addressing individual feedback.  

Moreover, when and where psychologically safe spaces can be established within a secure environment for employees to report their concerns (e.g., an Employee Resource Group, an anonymous helpline) regarding racism and discrimination, a mechanism must be put in place to incorporate this feedback into the overall DEI strategy and decision-making. For this to work, organizations need individual employees who are trained to listen to staff concerns (following a safe space policy), who are also integrated into a company’s hierarchy and thus able to pass the insights collected from those employee interactions to senior leadership.

Pay Equity Audit

Referencing Pew Research Center data, Akinyio Chieng noted that “college-educated Black men earn roughly 80% the hourly wages of white college-educated men while Black women with a college degree earn only about 70% the hourly wages of similarly educated white men. Meanwhile, college-educated Black women earn 8% less than college-educated white women” [17], [18]. Organizations have a responsibility to ensure a more level approach to wages. Conducting a pay equity audit for your organization is key to improvement.

Research conducted by the Workplace Equity Project [19] revealed that a race and ethnicity pay gap exists in the scholarly communications industry. This independent, non-profit organization (now part of the Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion in Scholarly Communications, of which this toolkit is an initiative) surveyed more than 1,000 scholarly communications professionals in 2018 and discovered that the workforce is 83% white and that the chances of attaining a senior position in scholarly publishing are higher for white males with no advanced degrees than for Black females with postgraduate degrees.

Illustration depicting the race and ethnicity pay gap in scholarly communications.

Credit: Workplace Equity Project, Lynbrook, NY

These findings reflect the broader U.S. workforce. Research on the state of the racial wage gap in 2021 by PayScale showed that, when controlling for experience, education, and occupation, most men and women of color continue to earn less than white men. An analysis of lifetime earnings showed that this difference can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars less for people of color over the course of their careers [20].

Why should we care about paying people equally for commensurate work, besides the fact that it is the just and fair thing to do? A chief reason is that decades of pay differences have led to occupational inequality, which has resulted in generations of racial wealth gaps. Additionally, there is a business case for eliminating the wage gap: achieving pay equity can help drive performance, efficiency, and productivity and will help attract and retain the best talent.

What can your organization do to close the racial pay gap? First and foremost, you should conduct a pay equity analysis to see if you are paying BIPOC employees statistically less than white staff members. Sometimes this is also called a pay equity audit (PEA) [21]. In smaller organizations, the human resources staff can lead this effort; larger organizations may consider hiring a consultant to complete the audit. Using an external business for this review, such as PayScale or Umbrella Analytics, can help ensure independent measurement. Using accurate data (which may require some cleanup first), the audit will compare the pay of employees doing “like for like” work. Then, accounting for pay differentials based on legitimate factors such as experience, education, and training, you can identify pay gaps based on race. The next step is remediation to address disparities and compensate staff equitably. The final step in this process is to identify how these salary gaps arose in the first place. Are the job classifications incorrect? Is hiring decentralized? Once you discover the source(s) of the gaps, you’ll need to introduce corrections.

There are other things you can do in addition to a PEA to address pay inequality in your organization. For example, hiring managers can stop requesting pay history. Because past salaries can be due to many variables, such as negotiation experience or past pay inequities, they don’t necessarily reflect the value someone brings to a job. To ensure parity as employees grow in the job, your organization should contemplate whether it provides equal access to special projects, opportunities to have hands-on learning, and visibility to the leadership. You will go a long way in building trust with your employees if you are transparent in your pay equity analysis findings.

Combatting “Vocational Awe”

In the library and publishing industries—where internships are often unpaid, many entry-level jobs pay only minimum wage, and even salaries for mid-level positions are challenging to get by on—pay transparency and PEAs are crucial steps toward more equitable workplaces. In a country like the United States, where there is a staggering racial wealth gap [22], the question of who can afford to work in these fields is inextricably linked with questions around student debt [23] and family net worth.

Fobazi Ettarh used the term “vocational awe” in a 2018 piece (see excerpt below) describing how the noble mission of libraries can be used to obfuscate issues around compensation and fair treatment [24]. Staff suffer—by working long hours at low-paying jobs, working second jobs, or incurring debt—with the virtuous aim of supporting the dissemination of scholarship.

As part of vocational awe in libraries, awe manifests in response to the library as both a place and an institution. Because the sacred duties of freedom, information, and service are so momentous, the library worker is easily paralyzed. In the face of grand missions of literacy and freedom, advocating for your full lunch break feels petty… Through its enforcement of awe through the promotion of dramatic and heroic narratives, the institution gains free, or reduced price, labor. Through vocational mythologies that reinforce themes of sacrifice and struggle, librarianship sustains itself through the labor of librarians who only reap the immaterial benefits of having “done good work”… If the language around being a good librarian is directly tied to struggle, sacrifice, and obedience, then the more one struggles for their work, the “holier” that work (and institution) becomes. Thus, it will become less likely that people will feel empowered, or even able, to fight for a healthier workspace. A healthy workplace is one where working around the clock is not seen as a requirement, and where one is sufficiently compensated for the work done… Libraries are just buildings. It is the people who do the work. And we need to treat these people well. You can’t eat on passion. You can’t pay rent on passion. Passion, devotion, and awe are not sustainable sources of income. 

Publishers may find that their version of “vocational awe” feels, according to an anonymous employee, “like cultural cachet—we get to work in a ‘cool’ field, and we’re supposed to sacrifice salary for that opportunity.”

To address these concerns, staff in leadership roles should take time to listen to staff when salary compensation is discussed, take care not to dismiss concerns, and avoid viewing inequality as a rite of passage for the profession. Internships must be paid, salaries must be transparent, and PEAs must be conducted regularly. A discussion of entry-level salaries—and how they fit into an organization’s strategic goals around equity—should be a part of the payroll budget cycle.

Power Mapping

From the top down and the bottom up, organizational change requires an understanding of how your organization works. As a leader, how can you tap into your staff’s energies and desires for a more equitable workplace and a better working environment and organizational culture for all? As a staff person, how can you strategically navigate the structures of your institution to produce the same results?

For employee groups trying to shift organizational culture, power mapping can be a crucial tool in developing an effective strategy for creating a more equitable, inclusive, and justice-seeking work environment. From an institutional perspective, as managers and directors, it is important to understand the lines of input and influence in your organization as well, particularly if you are part of a larger organization like a library department or a university (or both). Power mapping is one tool to address these needs, whether you engage in a formal mapping process, creating visual outcomes, or whether you do this more informally.

Effective power mapping involves identifying a goal and then identifying the structures and relationships—institutional and interpersonal—that will be important in helping or hindering your achievement of that goal. Particularly if your organization lacks transparency in decision-making, power mapping can be a useful tool for bringing clarity to how decisions are made and by whom.

Organizations can use power mapping to discuss questions about organizational priorities, such as:

  • Are antiracism and DEI in the strategic plan? The strategic plan is often the roadmap for organizational leaders and a reflection of goals and priorities over the long term. How can you get these priorities into the strategic plan?

    • Does your organization have a strategic plan?

    • How is it developed?

    • Is it taken into account in yearly planning and individual performance-evaluation processes?

  • Like strategic plans, budgets are documents that reflect values. If your organization truly values antiracism, you will dedicate funding to it. How can you get DEI work into the budget?

    • When are budgets due? How far in advance are managers planning their budgets?

    • Where does DEI fit in the budget? Individual departments? Overall budgeting?

  • Who is responsible for DEI?

    • Does this reside at the director or top level?

    • Is there a separate department or task force (if not, should there be)?

    • Is there a particular department with the financial resources and the commitment to support this work?

To begin a power mapping exercise, pick a small group of questions or goals, even just one or two, and then ask your group the following questions:

  • Who can actually approve the changes we’re requesting? Our individual supervisors? Human resources? The director of our press? The person to whom the director reports?

  • What are the broader social, political, and business environments surrounding our goal?

  • Who are our allies—individuals or groups likely to support our goal—and who might help convince others? (This might include defining who “we” are, especially if it is a small group of employees just starting out.)

  • Who might oppose our plans?

  • Who is ambivalent, and how might we convince them of the importance of our goals?

  • What are effective ways to communicate with our supporters and with those who are skeptical? If we have support at a higher level, how can we help those people convince the people above them?

Several power-mapping tools are freely available online. The Greater Boston Foundation has a robust facilitator’s guide for a group power mapping activity, taking newcomers through the exercise step-by-step. You will need to supply some granular detail about your organization and the people in it, so make sure that your group has some level of trust built up already. Here’s an example of the type of grid often used in power mapping:

Illustration of the type of grid used often in power mapping.

Example of a Power Mapping Tool
Credit: amynav, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Union of Concerned Scientists offers a number of different options for how the map itself might look [25]. Some options might work better for your group than others.

Regardless of how your map looks, it’s helpful to pool collective knowledge to make a visual representation of influence and connection. Members of your team may have informal knowledge or differing impressions; this exercise can be useful for deepening trust by sharing information and perspectives, in addition to its specific outcome. Furthermore, power mapping can be useful in any size organization (though large organizations may have more complex maps).

As you consider the most appropriate steps to make change in your organization, keep context in mind, specifically how you’ll involve new coworkers in the work of antiracism as well as how to keep those who have been most involved from burning out. An awareness of how people tend to move through your organization and ways to develop antiracist leadership will be crucial to your ability to achieve the goals you’ve mapped out.

Accountability and Decision-Making

Maggie Potapchuk of MP Associates suggests a “concentric circles” [26] framework of interrogating how decisions are made within organizations. To surface and dismantle the racial, power, and privilege inequities at play, Potapchuk suggests the importance of assessing gatekeeping. Questions include:

Within the formal decision-making process, who is included and excluded from the process? What are their roles within the organization and what are their racial/ethnic identities?

What are the consequences if the decision-making process is not followed? Are there different consequences based on roles within the organization and/or racial/ethnic identities?

What are the patterns of responses when an individual or a group raises a difficult issue, especially one involving inequities, power and/or privilege? Are the responses different between various staff groups? By race or ethnic identity groups?

How is the organization currently perceived by constituents? Are there different perceptions based on racial/ethnic identity groups? What is the process for determining resources and services for constituents?

What is the level of involvement of constituents in the decision-making process to determine resources and services? Are constituents encouraged to provide input, insight, and/or direction? Are there opinions reflective in organization’s decisions? Are there different levels of involvement based on racial/ethnic identity?

— Consulting with a Racial Equity Lens Tool [27]

The old expression “knowledge is power” can make clear the racial disparities that may occur across decision-making authority, proximity to information, and influence. These questions can be used as a whole or in part to improve transparency, accountability, and inclusion.

Gatekeepers act as the buffers between institutions and communities. This is not necessarily negative, as communities often need gatekeepers. However, we need gatekeepers who are accountable to the communities and not the institutions they represent. Gatekeepers can keep people and resources in, or they can keep people and resources out. This does not mean that we are stupid or bad people. The socialization process that sometimes happens to us when we are immersed in White Institutional Culture ensures that we become so invested in the institution that our vision and values become one with the institution. Again, the challenge is to shift the incentives, values, status and rewards toward doing well on community terms...”

— Barbara Major, “How Does White Privilege Show Up In Foundation and Community Initiatives?” [28]

Organizational Readiness

Efforts to advance goals related to racial equity may be undermined by a lack of organizational readiness. The Western States Center developed a basic assessment calling attention to considerations in this area. Using its framework of Red Light (our organization has not gone there), Yellow Light (our organization has started conversations about this or taken some steps), or Green Light (our organization is fully on board) could be a conversation starter for managers beginning an assessment project. Some criteria on the tool include:

  • Are benchmarks around racial justice incorporated into the annual evaluation for all employees?

  • Are white people supported and evaluated in deepening knowledge and building skills around issues of white privilege and antiracist organizing either within or outside the organization?

  • Are the staff and board trained in interrupting racism within the organization?

The Center describes a continuum of organizational development:

  • All White Club

  • The Affirmative Action or “Token” Organization

  • The Multicultural Organization

  • The Anti-Racist or Liberation Organization

These stages each have characteristics that highlight barriers and demonstrate opportunities for progress. Use of the continuum can help an organization identify racial disparities and white supremacy culture within policies, funding, representation, and more.

Similarly, Equity in the Center’s “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture” documents “levers” that address the personal beliefs and behaviors, policies and processes, and data needed at various levels of the organization to advance racial equity. For instance, to achieve equitable policies, senior leaders must ensure a vetting process exists “to identify vendors and partners that share their commitment to race equity.” In terms of the learning environment lever, organizations must use data to “formulate development and learning plans for race equity knowledge [and] track employee learnings and any resistance to growth [29].”

In addition to these resources, the following table provides information about other tools and resources that would be helpful in assessing organizational readiness for engaging in antiracist action, evaluating the potential impact of policy decisions on communities of color, and other instruments to assess your DEI culture and build strategies for organizational development. (Descriptions are taken from the recommended sites.)

Free Resources
Name
Sector
Description
The Education Trust–West: Diploma Matters Audit & Blueprint for Action Resources
Pre-K through post-secondary education
Works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. They expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and they identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps [30].
The Annie E. Casey Foundation; Race Matters Institute
General
Impact assessment tool that proposes several possible questions for assessing the potential impact of a policy (or other decision) on racialized communities.
MP Associates (Maggie Potapchuk) Transforming Organizational Culture Assessment Tool (TOCA)
General
Not a diagnostic tool, but rather a tool for reflection on white dominant culture and its impact on the organization’s stakeholders. The TOCA helps the organization develop a “Racial Equity Change Process.”
Western States Center (WSC)
General organizational audience
The Organizational Assessment is an excerpt of a longer self-evaluation tool used by the Dismantling Racism Project that offers a starting place for strategy building. The tool offers a sampling of questions designed to assist organizations examine and change the ways the organization replicates larger racist patterns.
Center for Urban Education (CUE, now part of the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center)
Post-secondary education
Offers numerous tools to assess and develop an organization’s action towards greater equity. Includes a “Scorecard” as well as self-assessments (organizational) and other organization development tools.
Coalition of Communities of Color | Tool for Organizational Self-Assessment Related to Racial Equity
School districts, nonprofits, corporations, foundations, others
Provides a robust assessment tool to help organizations gather baseline data in order to inform the development of improvement strategies that will lead to more equitable outcomes for children of color. Can be adapted for other sectors/populations.
Getting To We (Deborah L. Plummer, Principal)
General
Individual assessment tool, the Antiracist Style Indicator (ASI) measures a person’s orientation toward antiracist behavior (dismantling racist structures). Based on family systems theory, Gestalt theory
Fee-based Resources
University of Southern California Race and Equity Center: National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates
Colleges and university undergraduate populations
Quantitative survey administered annually at colleges and universities across the US Survey collects data about undergraduate students’ perceptions of institutional commitment to equity and inclusion, the extent to which they interact meaningfully with diverse others, where and what they learn about race and their feelings of readiness for citizenship in a racially diverse democracy, and other important topics. Report provides practical recommendations for organizational improvement.

Ongoing Measurement and Sustainability

Becoming an antiracist organization is “a journey of change” [31]. The assessments and data collection undertaken at the beginning of your work will not be a one-time measurement exercise—measuring change over time is essential to accountability and effectiveness. 

Equity in the Center identifies several changes that an organization should undergo on this journey [31], including:

  • Increased representation of BIPOC in the organization,

  • A stronger culture of inclusion, and

  • A race equity lens applied across all aspects on the organization.

The goal of collecting quantitative and qualitative data over time is to learn how antiracism efforts are impacting racial disparities and organizational culture. It is important to understand and be mindful of what drives change in your organization. As as described by Equity in the Center, change can be driven by seven levers—“strategic elements of an organization that, when leveraged, build momentum towards a Race Equity Culture”: senior leaders, a board of directors, managers, communities, data, organizational culture, and a learning environment [31]. What you can learn from ongoing and sustainable assessment can help you pull each of these “levers” most effectively for achieving your goals.

Measures to track over time may include:

  • Race representation statistics within the organization

  • Race representation statistics among third parties with which your organization works: authors, editors, reviewers, and vendors

  • Retention and promotion rates by race and gender

  • Salary and compensation disparities by race and/or gender

  • Antiracism performance measures in employees’ objectives and annual assessment reviews

  • Disaggregated data on performance management

  • The number of employees who participate in DEI trainings

  • Feedback from participants on the effectiveness of DEI trainings

  • Employee satisfaction from working in an inclusive culture, through employee engagement surveys

  • Feedback from exit interviews conducted with individuals from historically excluded groups.

The data collected should be a tool to change culture and processes, to develop a learning culture in your organization, and to make changes based on needs that are surfaced through these measurements. Ongoing feedback on the organizational culture, disaggregated to make visible the feedback from BIPOC and other marginalized groups, is important to understand employees’ experiences. Feedback and stories from marginalized groups need to be treated as authentic, respected, and acted upon.


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