Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) was forced to the forefront of public consciousness in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. His tragic and traumatic death at the hands of the police gave rise to a renewed interest for individuals and institutions to have meaningful discussions about discrimination and racism, and how systemic inequities further their effects. Suddenly DEI was in the hearts and minds of people who had never given the concept a thought — and many institutions made a more conscientious effort to outwardly and intentionally grapple with the realities of pervasive institutional and systemic discrimination.
As many institutions began their DEI journeys, assessments were born to evaluate at what stage of the process individuals and organizations were engaging with related topics. However, a vacuum existed in tools that provide not only a space for individuals and organizations to reflect within an assessment where they may be in the process but also provide scholarly and field-specific resources to support their ongoing engagement. In an effort to bridge this gap, a working group team from the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) initiative, Organizations in Solidarity (OiS), conceptualized the Justice, Equitable, Diversity, and Inclusive (JEDI) Journey Assessment Tool.
Assessing Your DEI Journey
With members who ranged across sectors, the OiS Education and Prevention working group envisioned a resource that they could refer to along with others on how to improve DEI personally and within their organizations and that met them where they are to affect meaningful change. The JEDI Journey Assessment Tool provides relevant resources to move the needle on DEI initiatives for individuals and organizations across sectors including peacebuilding and nonproliferation nonprofits, higher education, philanthropies, think tanks, government agencies, and private sector organizations. By asking simple questions on the level of engagement with DEI topics, the short assessment is able to suggest pertinent tools.
The JEDI Journey Assessment tool is one method to assess engagement with DEI. But as discovered in the creation of this tool, there is so much more room to develop further resources to support individuals and organizations in the field wanting to make a change in the fields of peace, security, and foreign policy.
To begin any new journey, one must first learn the language. The first level of the assessment’s resources seeks to establish a proper linguistic foundation. Individuals looking to begin their DEI journey are given an opportunity to better understand the language used in DEI work — language that is designed to impart the importance of DEI personally and professionally. Similarly, organizations across all sectors looking to ignite their DEI work will find articles and readings on the current landscape of DEI in their sector. Targeting both individuals and organizations allows the JEDI Assessment Tool to serve the whole sector, enabling individuals and organizations to reflect on themselves and how they can be diverse, inclusive, and equitable. For example, think tanks today often produce reports with technical language and jargon that are tailored toward academics or policy professionals and not the general public. However, the assessment tool positions think tanks to think critically and intentionally about creating a more inclusive space by writing reports that are accessible to a wider audience.
Once one has a grasp on the language of a new topic, the groundwork is laid to take the next steps in actually implementing what’s been learned. The second level of engagement resources aims to do just that. This section is also for both individuals and organizations. Regarding individuals, it focuses on those who have a foundational understanding of DEI and its basics and are looking for ways to implement or move the needle further. And it helps organizations that are aware of the value-add to their company to enact work that furthers their DEI goals. These second-rung engagement resources include toolkits on what and how to lead an antiracist life and understand white supremacy, its manifestations, and how to talk about them. Here, organizations will be met with sector-specific resources on best practices, toolkits, and methods for DEI forward in their work.
Finally, once the foundations are set and used in practice, one needs to find ways to sustain their efforts and critically assess if their work is in fact effective. Sustaining efforts can look like continuous learning and involves finding new opportunities to enact what you’ve learned or following up with assessments and evaluations to make sure you are still on the right track. This final level of resources supports sustaining efforts in all these dimensions. With tools to not only integrate into one’s personal life, these resources give suggestions on bringing such practices into professional spaces.
The concluding set of resources included for organizations to consider are training and ways to measure the work already being done. This includes anti-racist organization training and evaluation techniques to assess if the initiatives in place are making effective use of their resources in pursuit of meaningful change. The Using Measurement and Metrics provided by the Coalition for Diversity & Inclusion in Scholarly Communications provides a roadmap from planning an assessment to completing one, giving organizations a proper guideline to follow in the measuring of their initiative’s efficacy.
The Necessity of Self-Reflection
The JEDI Journey Assessment tool is one method to assess engagement with DEI. But as discovered in the creation of this tool, there is so much more room to develop further resources to support individuals and organizations in the field wanting to make a change in the fields of peace, security, and foreign policy. It is our hope that those who take the assessment use this opportunity as a point of self-reflection to make meaningful and impactful changes within themselves and their institutions. Since its publication in March of 2023, organizations within the field, particularly those within the OiS partnership, have used this resource as a way to gauge and bolster their DEI efforts.
So, take the assessment. Where are you on your DEI journey?