At Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, we’ve spent the last 43 years uncovering injustice and holding those responsible to account. Today, we are in the midst of a long-overdue reckoning with racial inequality in this country, in many of our most established institutions and in the journalism profession. This has opened up a deeper and more honest conversation inside our own organization, along with a push for a far greater sense of urgency and accountability, as we work to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace for all.
Just as we’ve held other institutions accountable since our inception, it’s important we hold ourselves accountable for this. That is why we are sharing our 2020 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals with you – our audience, funders and broader community – and why we will report back on our progress at the end of the year.
Over the last five years, we have increased the percentage of people of color on our staff from 25% to 37%. We are deepening our focus not just on hiring to build a diverse team, but also on equity and inclusion so that we retain the staff we hire, create pathways to growth, provide a sense of purpose and belonging for everyone, and ensure our journalism is inclusive and representative of the audiences we serve.
This work is iterative: As we make progress on the 2020 goals laid out here, we will add new ones that will be the focus of our DEI efforts in 2021.
A number of DEI initiatives have been underway at Reveal over the last year and a half, from designing an equitable salary and title structure to redesigning performance reviews to include contributions to inclusion, updating the 360 performance review process for managers based on feedback from staff, providing newsroom training on implicit bias, and creating a permanent DEI staff working group.
The goals outlined in this plan were developed in response to specific requests made by people of color at Reveal, a staff survey administered in July of this year, ongoing roundtable discussions we are holding inside the organization, exit interviews with people who have left Reveal over the last 18 months and the DEI efforts that were already underway.
The focus of the plan is on hiring and retaining people of color, investing in our staff’s professional growth and development, and ensuring our journalism is inclusive and representative of the audiences we seek to serve. We have hired the DEI strategy and racial equity firm Dorianne St. Fleur Consulting to support us in this work.
It is our belief that if we can improve the experience and retention of people of color at all levels of the organization, we will create a culture that benefits everyone who works at Reveal – and will produce better, more inclusive and higher-impact journalism as a result.
Implement standard hiring practices and policies.
While we redesigned our hiring process a few years ago to support building a more diverse staff, we now are revising the process to provide more support and accountability to ensure we build the strongest candidate pools for every position. With input from people we recently hired, the new practices will create more standardization, minimize bias from hiring committees and managers, and ensure accountability for diverse finalist pools.
Recruit and hire diverse editorial and administrative staff, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx of color and Southwest Asian/North African (SWANA) people.
Despite increasing overall diversity in recent years, we have been left with diversity gaps in critical areas. Going forward, every department head is spending at least four hours a month expanding and diversifying their networks to include more people from underrepresented communities who we may want to consider for future job openings. We’re also working to expand our freelancer and contractor pools – including reporters, producers, photographers and visual artists – prioritizing those who add needed perspectives and skills to our team.
Implement standard organizational and team-specific onboarding practices and policies.
We are creating a comprehensive onboarding process, as well as team-specific processes, to ensure new staff members feel welcomed and integrated into the organization. Particular emphasis is being placed on onboarding remote staff, which is especially important during COVID-19.
Implement an equitable title, salary, promotion and raise structure.
We are building a new structure to set equitable titles and salaries across Reveal, to standardize how raises are given, and to articulate the process for requesting and receiving promotions. The goal is to address title and salary inconsistencies that arose out of previous incarnations of the organization and to give all staff members a clear understanding of where they sit in the organization and how they can advance.
Increase culturally competent and inclusive management skills for everyone in leadership.
The work of shifting power dynamics, transferring power to a more diverse group of people at Reveal, and promoting a fair and empathetic workplace requires an inclusive and human-centric approach to management. Everyone on the management team will receive training and tools designed to foster open communication, effectively address conflict and better support staff members in their day-to-day work and career goals.
Increase cultural competency of all staff.
Cultural competency of our staff is critical to creating a healthy workplace for everyone at Reveal and for producing journalism that is representative of the audiences we seek to serve. We are providing training, policies and incentives to reveal the power dynamics within the organization now, aid our staff in working across differences and build more equitable power structures going forward. This work also will give the organization common language and understanding of our DEI work, enabling shared accountability for making Reveal more inclusive.
Build our HR infrastructure with a focus on staff support and development.
Over the last decade, our staff has doubled. We’ve added new teams (audio, collaborations, audience), expanded our remote workforce and diversified the organization. We will hire our first in-house manager to support staff in pursuing their professional development goals, navigating job advancement and resolving conflict and to ensure excellence in our recruitment and hiring, onboarding, and talent development.
Adopt best practices for increasing diversity and inclusion in our journalism.
We believe the more diverse the perspectives that inform our work, the stronger the work itself will be. But we know it’s not enough to have people from diverse backgrounds on our teams. We also need to empower people to step into leadership; be seen and heard in the editorial decision-making process; and be valued for the judgment, work and ambition they bring to the table. We are designing an editorial diversity and inclusion audit to evaluate our stories and visuals on all platforms, conducting newsroom discussions on topics such as avoiding victim narrative tropes, and setting clear expectations that editors vet all reporting plans, story memos and pitches for source diversity. We also are articulating the decision-making behind large projects, giving all staff guidance and support to make a case for cross-platform investment in their story ideas, assigning clear roles at project kickoffs to ensure that crediting consistently and accurately recognizes work across the editorial team, and refining our community engagement practices to avoid an extractive relationship with the communities on which we report. Finally, we are working to expand our collaboration partnerships to include and support news outlets that focus on serving underrepresented communities.
Diversify the board of directors.
The board of directors is responsible for ensuring the organization adheres to its mission, ethics and values; ensuring that it is financially sustainable; and selecting and overseeing the work of the CEO. The prioritization, values and leadership that we bring to our DEI work should start with the board. This summer, we conducted our first board self-assessment. We are using the results to build a board matrix that articulates the skills and experience currently represented on the board and identifies what we are looking for in new board members. We aim to fill open board seats with people who will increase diversity, bring new perspectives to the board’s decision-making, and support the organization’s equity and inclusion goals.
We intend to complete or make meaningful progress toward all these goals by Dec. 15, 2020. The work plan is being led by CEO Christa Scharfenberg, Editor in Chief Matt Thompson and Chief Operating Officer Annie Chabel, with support from editors, managers and staff throughout the organization. We have divided the work and tasks associated with these goals over three six-week phases, which started at the beginning of August. We are providing weekly email updates and monthly staff meeting presentations to our staff to report on our progress and any roadblocks we’ve hit. We will survey our staff at the end of the year to assess whether there have been perceived shifts in our culture and the experience of working here. And we will share our results – and renewed goals for 2021 – with you at the end of the year.