Diversity, Equity, Inclusion AND Belonging – PSI’s Report Card

By Karl Hofmann, President and CEO, PSI

Just days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court stripped the Constitutionally protected right to an abortion from millions of people in the United States. This decision has tremendous ramifications, unraveling decades of progress and making the U.S. less equitable and less inclusive. 

The impact of this decision will fall disproportionately on minority groups including people of color, low-income people, youth and the LGBTQ+ community, the latter of which was just celebrating advancements for LGBTQ+ rights this month during Pride.

At PSI, we feel especially committed to upholding the power of diversity, the views and perspectives of those in the minority, and those who decline to conform.

Two years ago, PSI published our DEI commitments and invited anyone who follows us and our work to help keep us honest in our journey to meeting these objectives.

After two years, we remain committed to our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI/B) commitment. Here’s the latest dashboard that shows how we’re doing on diversity across PSI leadership in terms of underrepresented gender identities and groups, which we share internally and with our Board of Directors routinely.

As the dashboard shows, progress has been on the upward trajectory with underrepresented groups, and though it ticked down slightly for underrepresented gender identities, it is still above target. We’re honored that Global Health 50/50 rated PSI as a “high performer” in its fifth annual report, ‘Boards for All? A review of power, policy, and people on the boards of organizations active in global health’. PSI ranked in the top 10 percent out of 200 assessed organizations, and was further recognized and commended for its Board diversity; women comprise 60 percent of the PSI Board, and 40 percent of its Board members are from low- and middle-income countries.

One of our senior managers for talent, Lynda Iyamah, recently shared with me how our “work from (almost) anywhere” policy allows us to increase our diversity pool within the hiring process. We recruit from D.C. and PSI-approved U.S. states and have opened our positions globally in the more than 40 countries where PSI is registered.

Lynda also shared that we’re hiring more and more country-based global employees for Washington Global Office openings, which increases the DEI/B of our organization and within the hiring process. Additionally, we are looking at candidates and their qualifications in a new light by incorporating education and experience equivalencies to help attract a broader, more diverse applicant pool. PSI’s education and experience equivalencies provide objective alternatives for determining whether applicants meet the minimum requirements.

But good performance on representation across our leadership ranks and workplace equity is only half of it; we must create meaningful inclusion in our mission and our work, as well as belonging within our organization.  Inclusion and belonging may be hard to measure, but we’re determined to try.  A diverse workforce with meaningful engagement in the work is the workforce that will deliver on mission. My colleague Nina Hasen, PSI’s VP of HIV and TB, says that when it comes to DEI, we must consider ourselves learners. I agree. As she shares: 

“Leading a team made up of experts from different countries and cultures is a humbling experience. One thing I have learned is the importance of knowing my team as individuals, knowing about their families and personal priorities and paying attention to their challenges beyond work.

At a recent team workshop, we each took turns telling our HIV stories and it was an incredibly powerful and moving experience. Hearing how the work we do as team relates to our own lives brought us all so much closer together, and deepened our sense of shared mission. This knowledge doesn’t guarantee we won’t make mistakes when it comes to being inclusive and fair. But it creates the trust that allows us to more easily confront each other when that does happen and the motivation to stay kind when we feel frustrated.”

So, inclusion and belonging – how should we measure it?  We’re asking our employees, via our evergreen employee survey that people receive on the anniversary date of their hire, to report how they are feeling and how we are doing along eight axes. Via a seven-point scale, people respond to whether they strongly agree, agree, somewhat agree, are neutral, somewhat disagree, disagree or strongly disagree with the below statements:

  • Personal characteristics do not influence career at my organization (we have the most work to do here)
  • Leadership encourages DEI through words and actions
  • My team members are committed to and support diversity (we score strongest here)
  • Employees value each other’s opinions
  • The organization has clear policies that ensure different backgrounds are valued
  • I can offer ideas to improve our outcomes
  • I feel welcome to express my true feelings at work
  • I trust my organization

There is good albeit hard work ahead of us to help foster consistently high scores across these eight dimensions and we’re continually seeking ways to advance in our DEI/B journey. For example, earlier this year PSI became one of the first endorsers of an equity pledge by the Coalition for Racial and Ethnic Equity in Development (CREED), which will be a space where we can share our learnings with peer organizations and gain access to new ideas and resources to improve our DEI/B work.

The next frontier for us is how to flex our thinking and bring our DEI/B efforts – like our organizational health survey – to more of our global workforce, who each live and work someplace where diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging may mean something slightly different.  The performance boost to an organization from DEI/B success is universal, but the pathway to that success in a global and globally dispersed organization like ours is more complicated.  We want to get better at securing a DEI/B mindset across our entire global workforce.

As I said two years ago, please, help keep us honest on this.

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