Our Ongoing Work At NPR, diversity is not a special project — it is our core work.

Our Ongoing Work

Luke Medina/NPR
Luke Medina/NPR

At NPR, diversity is not a special project — it is our core work.

Nearly four years ago, NPR President and CEO John Lansing made audience diversity NPR's number one priority and began the work to make NPR the kind of organization, internally, that can deliver on that commitment. With the contributions and insights of NPR staff, we established a strategic plan focused on and supporting that work.

Today, through the work of Chief Diversity Officer Keith Woods, Vice President of DEI Whitney Maddox, NPR's People Team and hundreds of staff members across the organization, we are taking concrete action to advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our work and thinking.

Our work includes:

  • Diversifying our workplace, content, and audiences. That's at the center of NPR's strategic plan, which is driving our work, including all the networked collaborative initiatives we conduct with our Member stations.
  • For the last three years, Whitney has led anti-racism conversations. Called STAR – Start Talking About Race – these twice-monthly discussions provide staff opportunities to discuss the ways race and racism affect how people view, engage and invisibilize those around them. Whitney also leads NPR's ongoing effort to address inequities — historic and current — affecting women of color on staff.
  • DEI Assistant Project Manager Jasmine Richmond coordinates and supports work across the DEI portfolio, making it possible for us to expand that portfolio.
  • Since 2020, we have welcomed interns as part of a collaboration with the Military Veterans in Journalism organization. We added an internship in collaboration with the American Association of People with Disabilities in summer 2022.
  • We continue to improve on NPR's proprietary source-tracking software called Dex, a platform launched in 2021 that allows journalists across NPR to keep track of the demographics of their sources. NPR has been engaged in source tracking since 2013, but Dex has created a seamless way for journalists to keep track of their own efforts to bring a greater diversity of voices to our audience. NPR's Research, Archives, and Data Strategy (RAD) team and our Audience Insights team continue to provide analyses of the racial/ethnic, gender and geographic diversity of our news sources.
  • We are investing in marketing and promotion of programming, including the 2023 launch of Black Stories, Black Truths, a video series and collection of podcast episodes highlighting the voices of 14 NPR hosts. The campaign was designed to call attention to excellent work as NPR drives to expand its audience.
  • We conduct regular Unconscious Bias training across the organization (mandatory for all those in supervisory roles) and require anti-harassment training.
  • We designed and conducted staff and supervisor trainings on NPR's workplace accommodations process and how leave works.
  • We facilitate DiSC workshops for teams across NPR to develop leaders and teams and foster a more inclusive workplace. The workshops are designed to teach participants how to flex their style to communicate, listen, and provide feedback more effectively and respectfully with others in the workplace who are different from one another. We also designed and launched trainings on how to give and receive effective feedback to encourage open, honest communication and learning from one another across diversity.
  • We offer numerous webinars and education sessions to staff on how to support employee well-being.
  • We have updated our equal employment, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies to use more inclusive definitions of protected characteristics and to provide clear guidance to employees on expectations and the process to raise concerns. We also designed and conducted supervisor training on how to foster positive employee relations in our workplace.
  • We created and implemented a unique-to-NPR anti-abusive conduct policy that allows employees protections beyond what the law provides – prohibiting bullying and any other intimidating, demeaning, or malicious behavior, regardless of whether a protected characteristic is at issue. This policy helps us check conduct that may not be covered by law or our anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, and helps us get closer to our goal of a more inclusive workplace.
  • We expanded the definition of covered "family members" in our sick and safe leave and bereavement leave policies to include "any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee equates to a family relationship" to acknowledge people's diverse experiences of "family" and ensure these leave benefits are available to employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • In 2022, we expanded our paid parental leave from 8 weeks to 20 weeks to ensure a more inclusive workplace for our staff and their families.
  • We expanded our bereavement leave to offer more days per loss and to include miscarriage, stillbirth, and other pregnancy loss as covered reasons for taking bereavement leave.
  • We offer paid leave for employees to attend to mental health needs, which is supplemental to NPR's existing sick leave and other paid leave policies.
  • We revised our paid holiday offerings and added a floating holiday option to better support diverse religious and cultural observances for NPR employees throughout the year. We send all staff communications recognizing various religious holidays and the possible need for staff to take time to observe them, as well as tips for staff in supporting their colleagues observing these holidays.
  • We have created training for staff across NPR in facilitating the most difficult conversations across difference, premised on the idea that a staff equipped to work through those conversations will do better work; be better leaders; and produce better, more accurate, authentic and compelling storytelling. We have also made that training available to Member stations.
  • We conduct regular Workplace Culture surveys and share those company-wide results with all staff internally. Our People Team performs deeper analyses based on divisions and works with division leaders to develop and implement action plans in response to survey data. Improvements year over year in employee engagement and satisfaction serve as metrics for our progress. The results directly inform the work around transforming our workplace culture. NPR's focus on women of color and our recent emphasis on feedback are direct results of feedback from previous surveys.
  • We offer a 10-week series of workshops to Member stations to share what we're learning with our DEI work and take back to NPR the insights we gain there. 
  • In recent years, we partnered with The DC Center for The LGBT Community and created company-wide training events for divisions and small groups centered around transgender and gender non-conforming identities.  In addition to these learning opportunities, the People Team created a Pronoun Guide for the organization that is also being used as a resource at several Member stations across the country. 
  • We now conduct bi-annual pay equity studies and wage gap analyses. As we did previously, those company-wide results and conclusions have been communicated to staff, and the studies have underscored the importance of our ongoing work to hire, retain, and promote women and people of color.
  • We are tracking our progress in diversifying our workforce and leadership teams, and sharing data with our employees on a quarterly basis, including statistics on hiring, representation, and voluntary turnover to reinforce accountability and transparency in this work. This data is available to all staff members via our Intranet site. NPR has published statistics about the representation of staff on three dimensions — race and ethnicity,  gender identity, and abilities.
  • In 2023, the People Team launched expanded self-identification reporting options in our HR systems to represent broader areas of diversity at NPR. We analyze and leverage demographic data in order to: ensure diverse representation across NPR and target efforts where we see under-representation; report organizational aggregated, anonymized demographic data; support NPR's diverse source tracking work by providing aggregated, anonymized staff demographic data for internal sources; evaluate whether employees have equal access to opportunities like promotions and development and to help identify potential barriers or biases that may need to be addressed; ensure pay equity; provide relevant programs, benefits offerings, and policies to support our diverse workforce; ensure legal compliance; and meet any regulatory reporting requirements that we routinely handle, including EEO-1 reporting, required pay data reporting, and our Affirmative Action Plan.
  • We have expanded our training and development programs to provide staff and supervisors with additional tools and resources to support diversity, equity and inclusion. This has included a Fundamentals of DEI course, as well as an offering tailored specifically for managers. We've provided LinkedIn Learning licenses for employees, temps and interns, which provides access to a variety of on-demand learning resources for personal development, skills development and DEI courses. We had also created specific, topical Learning Paths within LinkedIn Learning to support our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
  • We designed and implemented practices to mitigate bias and discrimination in our promotions processes, establishing clear criteria (in partnership with our unions for bargaining unit roles) that we communicate to staff before each promotion round. By centralizing the promotion process and communicating the promotion criteria transparently beforehand, we have taken steps to ensure more clarity and fairness in the process. We instituted steps including calibration sessions and tracking promotion rates across different groups to further ensure equity in our promotions. 
  • We defined and implemented increasingly consistent and equitable compensation approaches and practices, based on market data and internal equity analyses.
  • We are focusing our job recruitment efforts on building a more diverse workforce.
    • For the last four years, we have required that every finalist pool and every hiring committee have racial/ethnic and gender diversity.
    • We have designed and implemented processes in hiring to mitigate bias and discrimination, including structured interviews and requiring hiring panels to complete interview score cards. 
    • We have revised our job description template to ensure inclusive language and include salary ranges in our postings.
    • Though we have temporarily reduced the size of our intern classes, we continue to look to the program to attract a diverse pool of early career individuals to consider working in public media.
    • We continue our leadership of the Public Media Village, a collaborative recruiting effort at the NABJ, NAHJ, NAJA, AAJA and NLGJA conventions.
    • In 2023, consultant Doug Mitchell launched a record 12th NPR NextGen Radio cohort, in a program that connects college journalists with professionals from NPR and Member stations across the country.
    • The Reflect America Fellowship, a year-long program aimed at helping Content teams deepen and diversify coverage while introducing NPR to new, talented journalists, continues into its fifth year

(Last Updated: November 22, 2023)