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Unrealized Impact: The Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

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Unrealized Impact: The Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Unrealized Impact: The Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a groundbreaking study of DEI in organizations across the education sector. The report, written by Xiomara Padamsee and Becky Crowe, is slated for release in summer 2017.

The idea for this forthcoming study arose from conversations among the authors, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, Raikes Foundation, and Walton Family Foundation. They recognized that lack of data on DEI is inhibiting efforts to advance DEI across the field, and wanted to collectively contribute to knowledge across the field while making a bold statement about the importance of moving from research to action to impact.

They approach this study with a perspective: Diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations are better able to support, retain, and sustain staff who maximize student outcomes and create more authentic, sustainable relationships with parents and communities. This study focuses primarily on the first link in that chain: the connection between DEI and internal organizational health and effectiveness. 

What are the goals of this project? 

This study is designed to deepen understanding of the current state of DEI in education, identify promising practices, and help to fuel action. Padamsee and Crowe use data as a lever for achieving these goals, because without more robust DEI data, they assert that organizations across the education sector are less likely to act responsively, hold one another accountable, and ultimately, foster more sustained mission effectiveness.

How does this project differ from other DEI studies?

Padamsee and Crowe's study does not simply feature information from a single representative of an education organization, but instead analyzes data and provides insights on:

  1. Organizational policy and practice
  2. Staff experiences of DEI 
  3. Leaders’ perceptions of connections between increased DEI and improved student outcomes

The power of this project comes from the ability to draw connections among these data.  

To generate these insights, the authors and funders, along with an advisory committee of 29 field experts and a project team from Bellwether’s Talent Advising practice, designed and conducted surveys at over 200 education organizations and received over 5,000 staff responses. 

Why does data matter? 

For some, the notion of a data-based case for advancing DEI fails to acknowledge experiences of marginalization, bias, and discrimination that people of color encounter every day. The purpose of collecting field-level data is not to suggest that individual experiences are not valid data in and of themselves. Rather, the authors recognize that field-level data on DEI with a focus on race/ethnicity is an important tool to drive change, and they seek to put powerful data in the hands of those working to accelerate progress.

Why does this study focus on race/ethnicity? 

While there are many salient dimensions of diversity, this study focuses on race and ethnicity. Race is a social construct, but one that impacts everyone’s experiences. Race is a critical lens through which to understand and address the structural and institutional inequities that exist in education. A focus on DEI inside education organizations is an important lever for addressing these issues, even as the need for racial equity extends far beyond the education arena.

The report authors hope this study inspires further data collection, insight generation, and action. Further, they hope this study inspires their colleagues within education to approach DEI as an imperative and to move forward with conviction to achieve educational equity and excellence for all students.

Full report to be released summer 2017. Preview their findings here or click to enlarge the pages below.

DEI One-Pager pg 1

DEI One-Pager pg 2