INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
As an organization committed to the public good, I believe Brookings has a moral imperative to produce research and policy recommendations on issues of race, equity, and justice. The lingering challenges of COVID-19—from worsened income inequality, public health, unemployment, and so much more—have continued to highlight the many hard truths about the legacy of American slavery, and the systemic racism and inequity that permeates many facets of our society. Even as the public health environment improves, if slowly, Black and Brown Americans continue to lose a disproportionate number of lives and livelihoods. This is an unacceptable reality, and the many injustices of the moment compel us to take a stand.
For Brookings’s part, we have again committed ourselves to championing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, both internally and across all aspects of our work. This year in particular, we were proud to welcome a new class of David M. Rubenstein Fellows—ten outstanding early- and mid-career scholars with diverse backgrounds and experiences who contribute dynamic, new dimensions to our community. So too did we take advantage of the realities of remote work to feature voices and perspectives from across America and the world—something we will continue to incorporate into our programming for all future events and convenings. How We Rise, a virtual space that not only addresses issues of structural racism, but also promotes diverse voices from inside the institution and beyond, has thrived as well. We have provided new opportunities for our scholars to reflect on and engage with concepts and questions of diversity in their research work. And our latest Presidential priority—Race, Justice, and Equity—has continued to advance Brookings’s public commitment to equity, and to making efforts to combat biased policies and practices that have perpetuated injustice.
At the same time, we recognize that in order to produce high-quality research that informs innovative, practical policy recommendations, we must strive for a workplace that represents diversity of experience, thought, and personal background. Increasing and supporting our staff’s diversity enhances the relevance, perspective, and substance of our work. To that end, we continue to publish our workplace and Board of Trustee demographics with the aim of keeping ourselves accountable on our continued journey towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. In the four years since we began publishing this data in 2018, we have noted both exciting improvements and areas where continued, sustained effort is needed. Furthering this commitment, we have also sought to identify tangible, measurable goals for our community in these and other important areas, which we have included with each year’s publication and can be found below.
Brookings strives to continuously offer an inclusive and welcoming workplace that values the experiences, ideas, and efforts of all contributors. This means ensuring that each individual is heard, appreciated, and empowered to fully participate in Brookings’s mission, and holding ourselves accountable whenever and wherever we can improve. While we have so much more to do, I remain optimistic that through hard work, transparency, and accountability, real progress on measures of diversity and inclusion can be achieved over the long term.
I hope you’ll take a moment to read on and learn about the efforts that Brookings is undertaking to ensure the advancement of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I encourage you to explore our updated workforce demographics data and a selection of stories, commitments, and goals for the coming year. The road ahead will be long, and our work in this area is an evolving effort in which are learning and adapting. Together, we can lay the foundation for a stronger institution and a brighter, better world.
– John R. Allen
The source of this data is based on the affirmative action questionnaire completed by all Brookings employees. The categories for race and gender are determined by the federal government for workforce reporting.* The categories used for generation identification have been defined by Pew Research Center.
Generation Z: born 1997 to 2012
Millennials: born 1981 to 1996
Generation X: born 1965 to 1980
Baby Boomer: born 1946 to 1964
Silent Generation: born 1928 to 1945
*Brookings is required to report the race and gender for all employees. Thus, in compliance with federal EEO requirements, employees who opt out are visually identified. We intend to fine-tune our systems in the future to include those who opt out of identification in our workforce data.
As of July 1, 2021, our staff headcount was 398 employees in Washington, DC. This includes:
Our Leadership Team (12): President, Executive Vice President and Vice Presidents
Our Fellows/Senior Fellows (96): Brookings Resident Scholars
Our Research Support (67): Research Assistants, Research Associates and Research Analysts
Our Operational Teams (223): Central and Program positions in Management, Operations, Communications, Development, Facilities, Finance, HR, Library, Legal, and Information Technology
This data does not include our nonresident scholars, as they are not employees. As our inclusion and diversity efforts evolve, we plan to capture and report on additional data.
How We're Improving
2020 and 2021 Highlights
Diversifying our Public-Facing Work
Brookings’s mission is to conduct in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems facing society at the local, national, and global level. Ensuring that a diverse range of people and voices can offer perspectives on the challenges facing our world and proposals to address them is central to our work.
In 2017, Brookings launched the David M. Rubenstein Fellowship, made possible by a generous gift from Brookings Lifetime Trustee and Chair Emeritus David M. Rubenstein. These two-year appointments are for ten outstanding early- and mid-career scholars with diverse backgrounds and experiences who contribute dynamic, new dimensions to the Brookings community and nurture a pipeline of policy talent that reflects America and the world. We welcomed a second cohort in 2019, and roughly half of the first two classes remain affiliated with Brookings in a permanent capacity; several other fellows retain non-resident affiliations. A third class, studying topics from artificial intelligence to health equity, joined us in the fall of 2021.
Like organizations around the world, Brookings was forced to reimagine and adapt our operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic—which included moving our vibrant public events programming from in person to online platforms. Though this shift was novel territory for our institution, it helped us feature new voices in Brookings’s convenings, such as frontline workers facing acute safety hazards during COVID-19, and secure participation from a broader set of regions of the world, including Africa. Moving our events online has also allowed us to reach new audiences, with more than 23,000 viewers signing up for their first Brookings event between July 2020 and July 2021. Brookings intends to incorporate these important lessons learned into future activities and is in the process of revamping our physical event and conference locations for virtual and hybrid programming.
All five research programs at Brookings are committed to producing research from diverse voices and on policy challenges created by racism. One major contribution in this area is How We Rise, Brookings’s blog devoted to policy solutions to upend structural racism, which has featured 84 posts from 29 different Brookings authors and 40 outside experts since its launch in June 2020. In 2021, Brookings experts testified on Capitol Hill on racial disparities in home prices, equity in transportation safety enforcement, and the impact of student debt on racial justice. Our series on American renewal and prosperity, aimed at providing policy ideas for the new Congress and for the Biden administration, featured seven reports on issues related to racial justice and worker mobility. More examples of Brookings research on racism and equity in the economic recovery, housing, education, entrepreneurship, and other policy issues are available here.
Supporting an Inclusive Workplace
In 2020, as stories of hate crimes and violence against Black communities dominated the media, and protesters took to the streets in cities throughout the country, including Washington, D.C., we recognized the deep pain and injustices felt by the Brookings staff—particularly people of color. To address our workplace culture, as well as better support and uplift staff members of all backgrounds, we worked alongside The Winters Group to design and deliver four learning opportunities. The series was titled “Creating an Inclusive Culture: From Theory to Practice” and included: a keynote address by Mary-Francis Winters on structural racism, a session for Black employees to affirm and honor their experiences and challenges, a session for staff with HR-related responsibilities on strengthening organizational culture and processes, and finally, a conversation with Brookings leaders and executives on centering equity and leading with an inclusive, justice-focused lens.
This past year we have focused on the strategic development of the staff learning curriculum, ensuring that there are consistent and ongoing opportunities for staff to learn and grow at all levels. In early 2021 Brookings HR hired its first Learning & Development Manager. The role connects the development and design of staff learning experiences with DEI themes and topics. The goal is that each engagement opportunity builds towards a more inclusive and welcoming workplace that recognizes the diverse needs and backgrounds of our community. Training experiences are developed collaboratively with staff at a variety of levels and often with the advisement of the Inclusion & Diversity Committee.
In 2020, Brookings HR led two key projects that center on equity in the workplace: the job framework and pay transparency. The job framework was a multi-year effort to develop a tool to describe the competencies and corresponding levels of contribution required for each role at the Institution, including pathways for growth over an employee’s career. The framework covers all roles at Brookings: entry-level to executive, and operational to scholarly to research support positions. The development of the framework ensures consistency in titles as well as in hiring and promotion decisions and underscores our commitment to professional growth and skill-building for all.
Related to this framework, and with input from employee focus groups, we are adopting new practices to increase pay transparency in 2022. We plan to provide information and briefings for staff about the key components of the pay program, post pay equity information, and provide training for supervisors on compensation decisions and professional development to ensure greater equity for all staff.
Building Pathways for the Next Generation
Our individual research programs are also leading important inclusion, equity, and diversity efforts in support of our broader intuitional commitments. Our Economic Studies program (ES), for example, has invested in building pathways that ensure that our future work, and that of the economics profession more broadly, is informed by diverse perspectives so that the reach and impact of our work continues to grow. This year, ES planned the opening event for the American Economic Association (AEA) Summer Training Program at Howard University. Speakers from ES, Global Economy and Development, and the Metropolitan Policy Program highlighted the lived experiences of women and people of color in economics and related fields for students beginning a PhD journey. In addition, in her capacity as the D.C. representative for the AEA Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, ES Research Vice President Stephanie Aaronson organized sessions, co-sponsored by Brookings, for early career economists to share their research at major economic conferences and organized networking opportunities for women economists in government, policy, and academia.
Brookings was able to successfully transition its long-standing internship program during the COVID-19 pandemic from in-person to fully virtual. This decision allowed us to broaden and ensure accessibility to college students and recent graduates from underrepresented backgrounds, and included establishing a set of strategic partnerships to provide summer internship opportunities in each of our research programs to students from schools that had not historically participated in the program. Here, too, we will continue to evaluate possible improvements within the program and, as appropriate, incorporate lessons we learned amidst the pandemic.
In 2016, the Brookings Inclusion and Diversity Committee was formed. The committee consists of 25 staff members at all levels – from early career to executive – with representatives from every business unit, research program, and employee network. Members serve as ambassadors and liaisons to their teams and are the thought leaders behind the work we do. The committee’s mission is to advance the strategic priority on inclusion, equity, and diversity at Brookings through:
- Promoting an ongoing process of cultural change;
- Robust recruitment outreach to traditionally underrepresented communities;
- Engaging formal and informal leaders throughout the Institution;
- Challenging or changing practices and policies that inhibit inclusion and diversity; and
- Working to ensure that the public face of Brookings is representative of the world in which we live and work.
In the ensuing five years, the Committee, staff working groups and others around the Institution have undertaken the following core, ongoing activities to support this mission:
- Continuing Race, Justice, and Equity as a Presidential Research Priority
- Improving gender and racial diversity of the invited speakers at Brookings events and work to eliminate all-male panels
- Providing training opportunities unconscious bias, respectful workplace, managing with an equity lens, micobehaviors, and cross-generational work environments
- Embedding inclusion, equity, and diversity in our human resources practices, including the regular analysis of the recruitment and selection processes
- Developing and implementing a jobs framework that seeks to ensure equitable treatment across the institution
- Celebrating the diversity of our staff through Heritage Months and other cultural observances
Priorities for the Year Ahead
Over the next year, we are committed to building on the highlights from 2020 and 2021 and to continuing to advance our core commitments. In addition, we will prioritize the following activities in the year ahead:
Creating guidelines and a support mechanism for employees to establish and lead new diversity-based affinity groups
Assessing Brookings’s DEI progress based on established global diversity benchmarks and tools
Continuing to support the development and implementation of DEI goals within our research programs and business units
Committing to a timeline by which all of our internship opportunities are paid
Adopting new practices to increase pay transparency
Continuing to host a new internal seminar series on racial equity in research
Revising the mission statement of our Inclusion and Diversity Committee to incorporate equity as an important component of our inclusion and diversity work
As we work to make progress within our own institution on diversity, equity, and inclusion, we seek to apply the same rigorous, research-based principles that guide all of our work. In that spirit, we conduct ongoing research to help inform our inclusion and diversity objectives and priorities.
2019 Career Day photos from Sharon Farmer Photography
Other event photos by Paul Morigi