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Ben’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons From Ithaca City School District’s Equity Strategic Plan
This month we are exploring opportunities for system leaders at the beginning stages of creating an “equity strategic plan” for their organization, drawing lessons from Ithaca City School District’s equity strategic plan. First published in 2005, Ithaca’s plan is built around an ambitious yet unambiguous goal – to eliminate race and socioeconomic background as a predictor of student outcomes and success within its schools. The district’s multi-faceted equity plan outlines various focus areas in organizational development, data infrastructure & analysis, strategic professional development for staff, and community partnerships. Given the wide variety of activities and stakeholders named in this particular plan, what general lessons might we draw for creating an equity plan at your school district or organization?
Ithaca’s Student Equity Goal: Eliminate Race and Class as Predictors of Student Success
Ithaca’s overarching equity goal — eliminating race and class as predictors of student success — is emblematic of equity objectives shared by many school districts and education organizations. Ithaca’s equity plan also names two critical assumptions that make equity work different from other types of strategic initiatives; the fact that this work is fundamentally collaborative in nature (involving stakeholders both inside and outside the organization) and that it rarely progresses according to a “linear, sequential plan”. To this end, Ithaca names a variety of both internal (eg. district staff) and external (eg. families & community organizations) stakeholders as being critical to the success of their plan. They also acknowledge that various elements of their plan will be pursued concurrently, with “different workgroups focusing their efforts on different parts of the plan at the same time”. Finally, they leave many implementation elements of their plan blank or undefined, presumably to be fleshed out later by those stakeholders responsible for bringing this equity work to life inside their district over the years to come. Despite being more than 30 pages long, their plan includes few concrete dates or timelines, instead focusing on “statements of need” and high-level development goals across a wide variety of equity focus areas. [Read more]
Kristina’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons from Google’s Diversity Report
The Google Challenge: A global company’s workforce fails to reflect global diversity
As the world’s most used search engine, Google has a truly global and diverse client base. While the company serves a global population, their 114,000 employee workforce was not representative of that diversity. In 2014, after conducting an internal analysis of the diversity of their workforce, Google realized their desire to build a representative workforce was not a reality: 83% of Google’s tech workers internationally were male, 79% of global leadership were male, and 72% were white. Recognizing that they could better serve their customers (all of us) by building a more diverse and inclusive organization, Google published an inaugural Annual Diversity Report and committed to holding themselves publicly accountable to building a more diverse and representative workforce.
The Google Solution: Set goals and hold leadership accountable to meaningful change
Since 2014, Google has released an annual update to the report to acknowledge both the shortcomings and successes they’ve achieved. In their most recent Annual Diversity Report, Google reports an increase in the number of Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, and women in their tech, non-tech, and leadership positions globally as well as a notable decline in attrition for these groups. [Read more]
Kelly’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons from an Inclusive Innovation Playbook developed by AT&T and SmartCities for All
Last month, Mary Mason’s DEI Spotlight focused on the work at Salesforce to create an overall vision and focus for DEI. This month we’re going to explore the importance of intentionality and specificity, drawing on lessons from an Inclusive Innovation Playbook developed by AT&T and SmartCities for All, a global initiative that is working to eliminate the digital divide for persons with disabilities and older persons in cities and urban environments worldwide.
THE INCLUSION CHALLENGE: INNOVATION IS LEAVING PEOPLE BEHIND
The society we live in is at times defined by technological advances; however, such innovation often leaves many groups of people behind. SmartCities for All and AT&T have found through their work that “innovations and technology solutions often are not designed to work for the more than one billion persons with disabilities around the world.” Myriad examples of this lack of inclusiveness abound in the world around us, including buildings without elevators or ramps, blocked or not functional accessibility services, crosswalks without auditory indicators…the list goes on. SmartCities for All and AT&T identified the problem as a pressing one that would only increase as cities became more technologically reliant.
THE INCLUSION SOLUTION: LAY OUT SPECIFIC “PLAYS” TO DRIVE ACTION
Given this issue, AT&T released the Smart Cities Inclusive Innovation Playbook in May 2019 to help close the innovation gap for people with disabilities. The goal of the playbook is “to help cities, their partners, and stakeholders define inclusion as part of the technology innovation process and integrate it into urban innovation ecosystems.” AT&T and SmartCities for All believe that to close the inclusiveness gap within urban innovation, cities must outline specific actions toward these goals along with ways to be held accountable to them. [Read more]
Mary Mason’s DEI Spotlight: DEI Practices at Salesforce
This month we’re going to explore the importance of a clarified purpose and focus when seeking to move the needle around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ll be drawing on a best practice from Salesforce, a leading CRM platform, that employs 25,000+ people across the world and was voted the World’s #1 Best Place to Work and one of the top 20 Best Workplaces for Diversity in 2018 by Fortune.
The Salesforce Challenge: Pay gaps and workplace equality
In 2015, Chief Personnel Officer Cindy Robbins first raised the issue of a pay gap between men and women at Salesforce by bringing it to the attention of CEO Marc Benioff. Upon further analysis, Salesforce also identified compensation discrepancies by race and ethnicity and a gender opportunity gap at the highest levels of leadership. Salesforce identified a need to remedy the pay inequities, but also to focus on workplace equality more broadly.
The Salesforce Solution: Clarified Focus on What Matters
The company curated a special report The Impact of Equality and Values Driven Business which examined their diagnosis and solution, noting , “A new business model for companies is emerging — one that calls for companies to expand their purview beyond profit, adopt a holistic approach to societal impact, and actively work toward achieving workplace equality.”
To create true change, Salesforce recognized that a financial commitment without vision and accountability wouldn’t move the needle. Instead, they have explicitly defined what they mean when they discuss “workplace equality” in their statement on their website: [Read more]
Raven’s Cross-Sector DEI Spotlight: Urban Planning
This month we’re going to explore the interplay between innovation and equity, drawing on a best practice from the field of urban planning. An article from the Urban Institute notes, “We can’t assume that technological innovations will benefit everyone equally. Intentional design for equity should involve inclusive processes and rethinking business practices to target efforts to marginalized communities.”
The Urban Planning Challenge: Creating an Equitable Bikeshare Model
According to the article, when Philadelphia decided to introduce a citywide bikeshare model, they engaged a committee of community members representing different neighborhoods and asked residents to vote on where the bikes should be placed. Despite this approach for equitably distributing the bikes, another challenge arose. Even though the bikes were accessible, some Philadelphians couldn’t ride them! Residents who didn’t know how to ride a bike or possess a credit card needed to reserve one were unable to benefit from the bikeshare racks in their neighborhoods.
The Urban Planning Solution: Invest in Differentiated Implementation
Upon further evaluation, the city decided to offer bike riding and safety lessons and found a way to issue cash vouchers. Both solutions required additional time and investment, but were necessary to achieve, or begin to achieve, their goal of equity. Neither would’ve come to fruition without ongoing reflection, a high bar for equity and continued community engagement.
Check out our some of our other posts below!
Ben’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons From Ithaca City School District’s Equity Strategic PlanNovember 20, 2019
Kristina’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons from Google’s Diversity ReportNovember 5, 2019
Kelly’s DEI Spotlight: Lessons from an Inclusive Innovation Playbook developed by AT&T and SmartCities for AllOctober 8, 2019
Mary Mason’s DEI Spotlight: DEI Practices at SalesforceSeptember 4, 2019
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