In January 2020, the Pulitzer Center embarked on a process to more actively define, invest in, and communicate how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) supports the Pulitzer Center’s mission, the commitments the Center is making to advance DEI in all aspects of our work, and the process we are following to actively evaluate and improve the ways we pursue diversity, equity and inclusion as an organization. We published our DEI mission statement in May 2020 and implemented the following mechanisms to hold ourselves accountable to the 14 commitments made in that original statement:
- A cross-team DEI committee inaugurated in summer 2020
- A full-time staff member designated as DEI Lead
- Cross-team working groups for managers and several key initiatives
- Feedback from staff collected through anonymous biannual engagement surveys, biannual performance coaching for all full-time staff, and quarterly training and surveys
- Quantitative and qualitative feedback from stakeholders through pre- and post-program surveys, annual audience surveys, and focus groups
- Annual cycles for teams, managers, and executive leaders to reflect on efforts made towards their DEI commitments
We are proud to share some key outcomes over the past three years.
Advancing DEI in Our Journalism Programs
We have expanded our journalism network programs and grown diversity among the journalists we support by prioritizing intentional outreach to regional and affinity organizations and cultivating partnerships.
Our grantees reported in 74 countries in 2019. In 2023, grantees reported from 103 countries.
While increasing our global reach, we have also actively worked to increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity among our grantees. Over the past four years, between 38% and 54% of grantees each year have self-identified as female or nonbinary in an optional demographic survey. Between 33% and 60% of grantees each year have identified a race/ethnicity other than white. An intentional recruitment and review process for three reporting networks (AI, Ocean, and Rainforests), led to all three current cohorts including a majority of journalists from the Global South. Our 2023 AI Accountability Network is an all-female cohort.
Since we began collecting data on recipients of student reporting fellowships in 2020, the percentage of Fellows who self-identified with a race or ethnicity other than white has remained between 57% and 63.6% of Fellows each year. Over 60% of each Fellowship cohort for each of the last four years has identified as female or non-binary.
Much of this growth can be attributed to increased outreach in regions historically underrepresented among our grant programs, in partnership with 10+ journalism conferences and organizations annually, and with the support of our growing Campus Consortium Network.
Of the 43 Campus Consortium partners in 2023, 35% are public institutions and 18.6% are community colleges or historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“I really have to laud the Pulitzer Center for this [webinar]. It’s not just the journalist that’s getting to speak their piece, it’s also the people we report on that get to be a part of this as well—and that completely [...] removes this power dynamic that exists between reporters and the people they report on. Thank you so much for this."
—Panelist Vijayta Lalwani during the webinar Respect Your Elders: Strengthening Intergenerational Queer Communities
Advancing DEI in Our Audience Engagement Programs
The increased racial, ethnic, gender, and regional diversity in our journalism programs has also led to increased diversity among the reporting resources and journalist grantees supporting audience engagement programs globally.
- Between 37% and 52% of events for audiences in the U.S. have been led by grantees who identify as a race/ethnicity other than white for each of the past four years.
- Between 2020 and 2023, the percentage of events led by grantees who identified as African-American or Hispanic/Latinx has increased by over 50% for K-12 school audiences (from 17.1% to 32.6%) and over 35% for college and public audiences (from 14.9% to 20%).
Our engagement teams have also created intentional programming, partnerships, and evaluation methods that have expanded DEI for outreach programs and digital resources. Highlights include:
- Over 80% of teacher Fellows from the past four years, and 1619 Network cohorts from the past two years, work in schools where over 50% of students receive free or reduced lunch.
- The outreach team has sought to put underrepresented and historically marginalized voices at the forefront of conversations about their own communities for events such as Strengthening Intergenerational Queer Communities and Louisiana's Disappearing Indigenous Lands. The team also increased collaborations with local and regional organizations working on issues highlighted in Pulitzer Center reporting for photography exhibitions, public art festivals, university partnerships, community forums, and more.
- About 30% of students in the Amazon in the Anthropocene course identified as Indigenous, Black, or traditional people. About 60% of the speakers were women and 30% of the speakers were from Indigenous communities.
- The recruitment and selection process for the Impact Seed Fund (ISF), a micro-scale grant designed to enrich the perspectives of university educators as they engage students in critical issues related to rainforests, climate change, and labor rights, resulted in 14 grants aimed at reaching audiences across Southeast Asia, the Amazon, and Congo Basin in collaboration with local partners.
- Our communications team partnered with 95 media outlets on Instagram in 2023 to reach new and diverse audiences with Pulitzer Center content. More than 18% were multilingual and featured a language outside of English.
“During the Impact Seed Fund selection process, there was one application from a remote area with unreliable telecommunications infrastructure … We adapted the interview mode from online meeting to exchanging Whatsapp Voice Notes. They are now successful applicants and implementing an education project working with local researchers, students, farmers and local government.”
—International Education and Outreach team members on examples of what increasing accessibility looks like for Pulitzer Center engagement programs
We have also invested in tools and systems to increase accessibility and inclusion, including:
- Adding alt text for all images on the Pulitzer Center website, and creating an alt text writing guide for all staff.
- Introducing live translation and captions for webinars, organizing multilingual live and virtual events, and publishing recordings and blogs for events to ensure they are accessible for audiences at any time.
- Asking for accessibility needs in advance of engagement programs, and creating guides for program facilitators and speakers based on participant feedback.
- Revising our Style Guide to include updated guidance on sensitive topics.
- Publishing resources for journalists to encourage collaboration and mentorship, strengthen inclusive reporting practices, and increase capacity.
- Working in collaboration with journalist grantees to implement DeepL Pro to translate and access our multilingual content—and launching the opportunity to apply for Pulitzer Center grants in any language.
Advancing DEI in Our Organizational Practices
We have made significant strides in recent years to cultivate diversity among our staff and board. From 34 employees by the end of 2020, with 80% based in the U.S., we have grown to over 60 employees in 14 countries by the end of 2023, with 61% based in the U.S.
Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in our increasingly global and gender-diverse executive leadership team, management team, and board.
Promoting an inclusive and accessible environment for our staff is a top priority for us. Efforts have included:
- Developing and implementing a salary compensation philosophy designed to ensure that compensation for all positions is fair, clear, and consistent.
- Increasing funding and expanding policies related to vacations, remote work, and professional development.
- Setting norms for all staff and team meetings to promote inclusion, such as shared facilitation and note-taking and dedicated time for team engagement.
- Instituting hiring panels and interview scripts to interrupt potential bias in hiring processes.
- Creating a performance coaching guide for managers to build additional structure and support into biannual check-ins for all staff.
- Collaborative planning and facilitation of over 60 engagement and training events for staff over the past two years, including our first all staff retreat in April 2023.
We are committed to continuous evaluation of our efforts, including through an anonymous biannual engagement survey for all full-time staff. In our past two surveys, we received feedback that has driven many of the initiatives highlighted above. We are also proud to report that over 90% of staff responded favorably to the following statements in our past two surveys:
- The work we do at the Pulitzer Center is important.
- I know how my work contributes to the Pulitzer Center.
- My manager genuinely cares about my wellbeing.
- I would recommend the Pulitzer Center as a great place to work.
With each effort made towards our DEI commitments, we continue to see how our mission to create impact through journalism and audience engagement can only be achieved by actively cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to learn how important care, curiosity, respect for complexity, humility, active listening, action, evaluation, and sustained commitment are to truly rooting these principles into our programs and practices.
We remain committed to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work, and commit to applying the lessons we have learned to maintain the momentum we’ve built over the past three years. We also commit to continue learning, and hope that you will join us in pursuing our vision for a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable world by reaching out to [email protected] with your ideas, questions, and suggestions.