Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MDRC
MDRC is committed to finding solutions to some of the most difficult problems facing the nation — from reducing poverty and bolstering economic mobility to improving public education and college graduation rates. We design promising new interventions, evaluate existing programs using the highest research standards, and provide technical assistance to build better programs and deliver effective interventions at scale. To advance our mission, we must recruit and retain staff that encompass a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, ensure equity in our policies and practices, and build a culture of inclusion, in which all of our staff feel welcome and valued. Promoting these values at MDRC improves the quality and relevance of our research, as well as the daily experiences of our staff.
As researchers who use rigorous methods to learn about policies and programs, we know that measurement is fundamental to diagnosing problems and tracking change. We also know that widely disseminating findings holds organizations accountable for refining and achieving their goals. Thus, we believe that to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at MDRC, we should treat it as we would treat the problems we address in our research. This means careful measurement and transparency to promote accountability.
To that end, below we provide an overview of MDRC’s staff demographic characteristics, as of December 31, 2019. First, we provide context about our staff — specifically, how many of us work here, where we live, and the roles we play in the organization. Then we share our gender and race composition — two important measures of staff diversity, but by no means the only measures we care about. These statistics show that our staff are diverse in both gender and race, but we recognize that we still have significant room for improvement, and the section that follows provides a glimpse of what we are doing to get there. These statistics focus on diversity because it is easier to measure than equity or inclusion, but we hold each value in equal regard, and the activities outlined in the final section demonstrate some of our efforts to strengthen each of these mutually reinforcing values.
Organizational Structure and Geographic Composition
MDRC had 298 staff at the end of 2019. About three-quarters of MDRC's staff lived in the New York metropolitan area and worked out of our New York City office. Nine percent of MDRC staff were in our Oakland office, and the remaining 17 percent of employees were associated with our offices in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, or worked remotely out of their homes around the country.
Sixty-two percent of MDRC’s staff had research, policy, and practice roles, which means that they worked on or directly supported our research, evaluation, and technical assistance projects. Twenty-six percent of MDRC’s staff performed administrative roles — such as finance, human resources, information services, and legal — or communications and development roles. Finally, 12 percent of staff were part of our senior management team, and they worked across departments. Senior management as of December 2019 included our president, vice presidents, directors, deputy directors, general counsel, chief information officer, chief communications officer, interim deputy chief financial officer, and several unit leaders.
Gender and Race/Ethnicity Composition
The charts below show MDRC's gender and racial/ethnic composition as of December 2019, which can be compared to data from December 2018. In 2019, over two-thirds of MDRC's staff identified as female and one-half of the staff identified as White, and the composition varied by the types of roles staff held. There was more gender, racial, and ethnic diversity among MDRC's administration, communications, and development staff than among our research and senior management staff. In 2019, for the first time, we collected demographic data from the 16 members of the MDRC Board of Directors, and we present that information here. As of the end of 2019, three-quarters of the MDRC Board members identified as White and one-quarter as Black, and about 40 percent identified as female.
MDRC’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Composition
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Race and Ethnicity
Research, policy, and practice staff
Administration, communications, and development staff
NOTE: Individuals were asked to select one of the following options when identifying their race and ethnicity: White, Black or African American, Asian, Hispanic or Latino, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, American Indian or Alaska Native, or Two or More Races. The "other" category includes American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and Two or More Races.
Current staff provided their gender based on categorizations that have since evolved. MDRC is updating its information collection efforts to reflect the gender identity spectrum.
Efforts to Strengthen Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We know that building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization requires intentional efforts on the part of management as well as every staff member, and we have taken a number of steps toward achieving this goal. Below are a few noteworthy investments that MDRC has made to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization.
- The Diversity Council: MDRC’s Diversity Council was created in 1998 to raise awareness about, advocate for, and celebrate diversity at MDRC and to advocate for equity in the workplace. Diversity Council members serve for two-year terms and represent all departments and seniority levels. Standing committees on the Diversity Council include the Events and Communications Committee, the Research Committee, and the Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention Committee. The Diversity Council organizes events, trainings, facilitated conversations, and written communications about diversity, equity, cultural competency, and social justice, and it launches initiatives across departments within the organization to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout all areas of MDRC’s work.
- The Mentoring Program: This company-wide program promotes valuable mentoring partnerships within and across all departments, policy areas, and locations at MDRC. The goal of MDRC’s Mentoring Program is to enhance the professional development of staff by improving their understanding of MDRC’s mission and organizational culture, increasing their access to advice about career growth, promoting inclusion, and diminishing feelings of isolation. The Mentoring Program serves an important role in fostering a sense of community across MDRC. More than 100 staff members participated in the Mentoring Program in 2019 as either mentors or mentees.
- The Judith Gueron Scholars Program: Through our Judith Gueron Scholars Program, MDRC is actively developing a diverse recruitment pipeline by raising the profile of MDRC and the work we do among underrepresented communities and institutions. Specifically, the Gueron Scholars Program offers paid internships for undergraduate and master’s-level students, as well as doctoral fellowships (with stipends) for students engaged in dissertation research. The program is designed to introduce students to the organization, with a focus on those who may not be aware of the policy research field in general or MDRC’s work in particular. All interns and fellows participate in the intellectual life of MDRC by attending seminars and project meetings. Doctoral fellows receive the advice and support of MDRC’s staff in completing their dissertations.
Crystal Byndloss, a Senior Research Associate, serves as MDRC’s Director for Outreach, Diversity, and Inclusion. In this role, Byndloss works collaboratively with MDRC’s Human Resources Department, the Diversity Council, and senior management at MDRC to develop strategies and tactics for further promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization.
In addition, John Martinez, MDRC’s Director of Program Development, serves as Chair of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management’s (APPAM’s) Diversity Committee where he is working closely with member institutions, particularly academic institutions, to develop strategies to address the pipeline issue in public policy programs and careers.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been integral values at MDRC since our inception, both in our research and in the management of our organization. To continue to prioritize these values and associated activities, a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Group — composed of members of MDRC’s senior management — provides oversight for our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
We are dedicating much time and effort to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion at our organization. We will periodically update this page with our activities and progress.
To learn more about MDRC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives, please contact Crystal Byndloss, Director of Outreach, Diversity, and Inclusion, at [email protected].