Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative: Q1 Reflections

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Hi there — I’m Jessica Frey, a Strategic Customer Success Manager here at EverTrue.

I’ve been at EverTrue since April 2019 and have absolutely loved every minute of working at this company that is constantly pushing higher education fundraising forward. It’s exciting to be at the cutting edge of an industry, especially one that believes in the power of education and formative, long-lasting relationships.

Sometime last summer as I finally settled into my role at EverTrue, I noticed that despite an amazing company culture and camaraderie, we were lacking in a few areas related specifically to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

I observed that most of our teams were gendered. Our Customer Success Team is all women, our Marketing team is almost all women, our Services team is all men, and our Engineering & Product team is mostly men. 

We are a company of mostly white, highly educated people. 

And almost one-third of us work remotely (in a world pre-COVID 19) yet we still tout physical assets in the office like the ping pong table, catered lunches on Wednesday, and an infinite amount of LaCroix in the fridge without reflecting on how this might alienate the remote experience. 

I was yearning to share these observations with others and open up the conversation to see if anyone else had them too. But I also wanted to have these discussions in a constructive and supported way. I wanted to educate myself about why this breakdown of our company seemed to be the status quo, why it made me uncomfortable, and what it might take to change it. Having worked at a previous institution that had formal programming and spaces for dialogue like this, I realized I had taken that for granted. And more importantly, I knew that EverTrue needed a space for these conversations… and thus, the journey to our DEI initiative began.

Late last year, the EverTrue Executive Management Team gave me the opportunity and support to start and lead our company’s first-ever Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative. And in January 2020, the DEI Committee was formed to spearhead this initiative from the ground up. 

The DEI Committee hosted a Fireside Chat with Leah Knobler, Director of Talent Acquisition at HelpScout

There is no Chief of Diversity or Director of People Ops running our DEI Committee meetings – it is entirely grassroots and volunteer-based. We have active individual contributors from every team including Engineering, Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success and we are fortunate to have support from a rotating member of the Executive Team each quarter. The varied demographic allows for dynamic moments of dialogue and conversation from a multitude of perspectives and ones that are always backed by respect. 

And believe me, the irony is not lost on me that the leader of the DEI initiative is a white, highly educated, able bodied woman. 

While we are just in the early stages of determining the goals of the initiative and what success looks like, we have accomplished solid progress that is worth sharing – for both our historical record keeping and to open the conversation with you, as members of the EverTrue community.

The list above doesn’t capture the number of messy conversations, half-baked ideas, or even the recalibrations that happened in light of the global pandemic. It doesn’t describe how we are all trying to figure out a way to balance our passion for this initiative with the responsibilities of our full-time jobs.

It is easy enough to put our weekly meetings on the calendar and share resources ad-hoc as we stumble across them, but frankly, it has been difficult to determine a real strategy. Deciding as a group what our short and long-term goals are has been a challenge. However, we all understand that setting goals within DEI will be the way we can affect true change. 

Focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion is important for a variety of reasons. 

One attention grabbing stat is that diverse and inclusive organizations continually outperform those that are more homogenous. Why? Well, diversity takes on a range of forms – gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, cognitive function, intellectual strengths, career tenure, etc. – and it’s within that mix of backgrounds that innovative thinking and creative problem solving is allowed room to blossom, positively influencing a group’s productivity and effectiveness.

Equity allows for all voices to be heard, for employees to be compensated fairly and recognized for their contributions. Getting diverse voices in a room is the first step, the second step is making sure they are all given the opportunity and the respect to be heard. And as Vernā Myers puts it, Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. 

That said, looking forward to Q2 and the year ahead, we do already have some lofty ideas! We would like to host a formal Unconscious Bias Workshop, execute a benchmark survey to learn more about our company demographics, develop a DEI mission statement, think about our hiring standards, and continue to educate ourselves and our colleagues.

I’m proud to work with such a talented and engaged group of people who have chosen to do this diversity work in addition to their regular load and I’m excited to keep you updated throughout the course of the year.

If you are one of our customers or work at another company and want to share your own learnings, ideas or have feedback in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion, please reach out to jessica.frey@evertrue.com! We’d love to hear from you.

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