EdFuel’s Anti-Racism Organizational Work & Pledge Update

May 2021 | Written By: Cortney Ameckson

How We’re Doing this Work – and What We’re Learning Along the Way 
In 2020, EdFuel formally adopted the organizational goal and priority to be explicitly anti-racist. EdFuel has always strived to model inclusive behavior and equitable practices; however, we realized the need to formalize, codify, and review our existing internal and external policies, practices, and operations so that we were not inadvertently promoting white supremacy culture. Before this formalization and codification could begin, it was important to assess our internal and external policies and practices.

We began this work in the second half of 2020, researching organizations that have undertaken similar work. We learned that many organizations who have embarked on a similar journey developed some type of working group or internal advisory committee to guide the organization’s work. So, we formed our own. To ensure this work was prioritized, we explicitly allocated staff capacity to the working groups, which are comprised of four staff members of color who were interested in pursuing this work.

As a first priority, the working group undertook a current state analysis, evaluating the extent to which our organization promoted anti-racism. To do this work, we completed the Onion Layers exercise which allowed us to systematically detail a list of current diversity, equity, and inclusion related actions, policies, and practices under each of our external, internal, and leadership team functions at EdFuel.

We then used this list to prioritize areas within our organization to focus our initial efforts to become a more explicitly anti-racist organization. This work is never-ending and will always need to be revised and revisited; however;  these initial efforts will guide large-scale projects to overhaul how we operate both internally and externally as an organization.

After many iterations of the list, we identified policies and procedures that needed to be codified. These areas were policies that had been implemented or practiced ad hoc but not were not formally codified, which we had found was leading to differences in understanding for staff members.

From there the working group created the following priority selection criteria that would be used to inform our initial projects:

Priority Selection Criteria

  • Alignment: Is this priority aligned to our anti-racism pledge?
  • Impact: What is the potential for impact on our team, our organization, and our partners? 
  • Existing Capacity: Is there dedicated capacity already allocated to this priority? 
  • Existing Organizational Priority: Does this catalyze an existing organizational priority? Is this aligned to our values, priorities, and theory of action?
  • Level of Effort/Timing: Generally, is this a quick win or a longer initiative? What is the anticipated level of effort required from this working group? Which stakeholders will we need to engage?

After engaging in this prioritization and ranking exercise, we selected the following external and internal priorities:

  • External Priorities
    • Codify anti-racist work at every point in the talent lifecycle and adjust EdFuel’s anchoring image accordingly.
    • Create supporting resources to foster alignment of our anti-racist work along the talent lifecycle.
  • Internal Priorities
    • Develop a way for team members to safely flag where and when we fall short of our anti-racist commitment as individuals or as an organization.
    • Begin to formally collect data on the types of organizations and leaders we work with, and analyze our impact by various sub-groups.

Update on Our Commitment as Education Support Partners
EdFuel’s Anti-Racist Pledge outlined a series of both internal and external commitments. Since the inception of this pledge, EdFuel has made strides to live out these commitments and ensure that we are actively working to keep the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (DEIA) top of mind in all that we do. On top of overhauling how we operate, we are committed to exploring ways that we can examine all of the work that we do through the lens of DEIA. Today we will share some of the actions that have taken internally related to the commitments outlined in our pledge.

1. Hiring and retaining diverse staff at all levels of the organization, detailed scorecards, and partner reviews at all points in the hiring process.

  • EdFuel has made progress on our hiring commitment by reviewing and updating our hiring profile prior to our most recent hiring process. We recently conducted a hiring process to find two new members to join our team. Though we have always sought candidates who operated with strong diversity, equity, and inclusion mindset, the hiring profile was further updated to prioritize the need for individuals who demonstrated a commitment to antiracism. This prioritization led us to share our pledge with candidates during our initial talks and ask for reactions and feedback. We also embedded questions and scenarios throughout the interview process to assess how candidates would think about anti-racist practices and policies both internally and in their potential work with clients.

2. Regularly setting aside time for the team to discuss questions, learnings, and challenges related to race and equity, e.g., continuing weekly team-wide equity and inclusion stepbacks, modeling and encouraging direct and open discussion on internal, external, or public topics related to race and equity.

  • Since we have publically shared our pledge, the EdFuel team has worked to utilize and refine existing internal mechanisms to further discuss questions, learnings, and challenges related to race and equity. We have continued to conduct our weekly “DEI Spotlight,” a standing item on our weekly team meeting agenda that allows team members to bring forth DEI-related learning, question, or challenge to discuss with the team that has come up in our work with clients or internally as an organization. Each week a different team member volunteers to pose the topic of discussion for the week, and takes 1-2 minutes to provide context, before opening it up to the team for thoughts, reactions, feedback, and sometimes even potential solutions. Over the past several months, as a team, we have dug deeper to ensure that the topics being discussed are more reflective and that we are examining and assessing all of our actions both internally and externally to ensure that they align with our anti-racist values. We have seen more robust conversation and the topics more closely reflect current events and challenges that many of our clients are facing, recent topics include:
    • How to address a client’s desire to accommodate for systemic and historical oppression via their compensation model
    • Local elections and the current socio-political landscape and its impact on client’s DEI and strategic planning work
    • Review/audit of the following internal structures to ensure alignment with our commitment to DEI and anti-racism
      • Client contract template
      • Onboarding
      • Team Norms

It is important to keep in mind that the DEI Spotlight is less about receiving a “correct answer” or concrete steps to solve a problem and more about creating a space for diverse thoughts and opinions with the expectation of there being formalized solutions.

We are eager to hear your thoughts and feedback on our work so far, so please let us know if you have any suggestions or input based on your own experiences or knowledge of us as an organization. Thank you in advance for sharing all of your thoughts and we look forward to this ongoing conversation!