Education Sector Needs Work on Diversity, Equity, Study Finds

Education Sector Needs Work on Diversity, Equity, Study Finds

Despite a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), education organizations still have work to do in those areas, a new report from the NewSchools Venture Fund finds.

According to the report, Unrealized Impact (89 pages, PDF), DEI practices have a positive impact on staff recruitment, retention, and overall favorability. Among "advanced" DEI organizations, for example, 88 percent of staff promote the organization, while 61 percent — regardless of race — report that they intend to stay with their organizations for the next three years. And while the report found that fewer than half of respondent organizations have formal DEI policies in place, every organization that participated in the survey is focused on DEI to an extent. At the same time, 24 percent of staff respondents report experiencing discrimination in the workplace, with staff of color 50 percent more likely to report having had such an experience. 

The report also found that when compared to the percentage of African-American and Latino pre-K-12 students, the percentage of African-American and Latino leaders in American education remains unbalanced. In the NewSchools sample, whites accounted for 24 percent of students, 49 percent of staff at education organizations, 64 percent of leadership, and 74 percent of CEOs, while African Americans and Latinos accounted for 61 percent of students, 41 percent of staff, 24 percent of leadership, and 17 percent of CEOs.

Written by Xiomara Padamsee, CEO of Promise54, and Becky Crowe, senior adviser of Bellwether Education Partners, the study is based on responses from more than two hundred education organizations and nearly five thousand individuals. NewSchools joined four other K-12 education funders — the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Raikes Foundation, and the Walton and Charles and Lynn Schusterman family foundations — in providing funding for the report, which is intended to deepen understanding of the current state of DEI in education, identify promising practices, and help to fuel action.

"As American students have become a more racially diverse population over the past decade, there is a stark difference between those who are doing the work and the racial demographics of the communities we serve," said NewSchools Venture Fund managing partner Frances Messano. "Education leaders are increasingly committed to doing better on diversity, equity, and inclusion, but this study shows many organizations aren’t sure where to even begin. The promising practices outlined in this report will give leaders a place to start."