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DEI self-assessment FAQ

« Back to the self-assessment

1)     What’s the purpose of the self-assessment?

A lot of foundations are interested in paying attention to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).  But they’re not sure where to start or what steps to take next.  This self-assessment identifies the key areas of foundation work that are relevant for DEI efforts and walks an organization through a user-friendly set of questions to catalog what it is already doing and identify additional pathways to advance DEI.  It is a tool to prompt productive internal discussion around issues where conversations can sometimes get confusing without a shared, concrete understanding of what the landscape entails.

2)     Why diversity, equity, and inclusion?

For philanthropy to be effective and relevant in our increasingly diverse society, philanthropic organizations have to bring new voices and expertise to the table, and they have to understand and reflect the rich perspectives of the communities we serve.  This self-assessment will give you some concrete ideas for action.

D5 addresses a broad spectrum of diversity, as reflected in the self-assessment.  Our aim is to amplify the voices of historically marginalized communities, which we believe will strengthen the contributions of our philanthropic institutions to the common good.

3)     Who should complete this tool? 

It can be used in at least two ways:

  • To generate discussion foundation-wide through its use by all foundation personnel, or within units of a large foundation.  In this case, it should be framed as an assessment to obtain perceptions about what’s already being done and identify issues on which to move conversations forward around opportunities for further work.  The larger a foundation, the more likely that responses will vary, since people who are differently situated have access to different kinds of information, and newcomers may not have the same information as longer-serving personnel.  That result in itself is useful as a prompt to advance a shared understanding of a foundation’s efforts.  The use of the tool with all or large clusters of personnel should be undertaken only if there is already a commitment to begin or continue the work, as it is likely to raise such expectations.
  • By a President, human relations officer, other executive, or an executive team to “take the temperature” of the organization’s DEI work.  The tool can become an annual barometer of progress and possibility.
  • By the Board of Directors/Trustees to gauge the organization’s needs and set its direction.

4)     For what types and sizes of foundation is this tool best suited?

Given the above answers, the tool can be used with any type or size of foundation.  Any items that are not applicable to a specific setting can simply be ignored.  There are enough items that cut across foundation functions for any type or size organization that the tool can be useful to think through DEI issues systematically.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are issues that arise for any organization, and especially ones that invest in issues and communities.

5)     When and where would a tool like this be used?

It is important to remember that the tool is intended to prompt productive discussion and strategic movement.  Its use needs to be framed in this way.  Conversations that contain any blaming or public assessment of individual performance are not productive and are discouraged.  The tool is most effective when it is used to help people look forward, not backward.  If the tool is used in a group convening, participants need to know that it is safe to be candid.  If it is administered in a large group and the facilitator wants to collect responses to be able to tally them, no names should be asked for on the responses.  Some of the settings in which the tool might be used include:

  • Board meetings
  • Executive team meetings
  • Staff meetings or retreats
  • Annual organizational assessments