In January 2020, NPR CEO John Lansing made expanding the diversity of the NPR audience our number one goal. We committed to being the kind of organization that can deliver on that imperative. In John's words, "We cannot embrace and reflect diversity in our content if we don't do it in our workplaces, in our newsrooms and our board rooms. We set that goal because we need to be better. I want to be clear on that point: We have miles to go."
With support and leadership from champions and partners inside and outside of NPR, we are changing how we think and do our work.
The below examples are a testament to the hard work of many people inside the organization, who are committed to meaningful change.
- Diversifying our workplace, content, and audiences are at the center of NPR's new strategic plan, which will drive our work for the next three years, including in all the networked collaborative initiatives we conduct with our Member stations.
- Chief Diversity Officer Keith Woods and Chief HR Officer Carrie Storer are bringing powerful leadership to the training and infrastructure around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that we need to be a best-in-class organization. Keith is also providing intensive workshops to leaders and staff at Member stations and providing consultation and referrals to Member station leaders and staff members looking for support and resources around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- Every NPR-produced show and podcast is now engaged in source tracking and we are on track to have 100 percent participation by the end of the year. We're actively developing the necessary tools and systems to support this organization-wide tracking and reporting on sourcing diversity.
- We have made diversity in sourcing, content, and staffing a priority for the collaborative journalism network, and we are baking sourcing metrics into our collaborations with Member stations that are part of the growing NPR/Member Station Collaborative Journalism Network.
- We have expanded the diversity of the senior leadership team and the hosts of our digital and broadcast programs, bringing new voices and perspectives to our content.
- Marcia Davis has joined us as a Supervising Editor to lead and edit coverage of race and identity from the National Desk. In her role, she'll work to facilitate seamless coverage of race and identity throughout our organization and in collaboration with Member stations.
- We are continuing to increase our investment in marketing and promotion of programming including Code Switch, It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders, Throughline, and Louder Than a Riot, that offer diverse perspectives on important issues.
- We have conducted Unconscious Bias training for all those in management roles, and are offering it across the company to all staff. We recently launched a series of Unconscious Bias workshops specifically for content producers that is also open to others in the company. More than 100 people attended the first session.
- We are focusing our job recruitment efforts on diverse communities.
- We continue our leadership of the Public Media Village, a collaborative recruiting effort at the NABJ, NAHJ, NAJA and AAJA conventions.
- Since January, we have required that every finalist pool and every hiring committee have racial/ethnic and gender diversity.
- We are using the NPR internship program to attract diverse candidates to consider working in public media, and are using this time of virtual work to expand our reach to interns across the country.
- Consultant Doug Mitchell is continuing the NPR NextGen Radio program, which connects college journalists with professionals from NPR and Member stations across the country with a strong focus on bringing young people of color into the system.
- We are in the second year of the Reflect America Fellowship, a year-long program aimed to help newsroom teams expand the diversity of their sources while introducing NPR to new, talented journalists. The first Reflect America fellow currently covers the pandemic for the Science Desk.
- We require that diversity be represented among the NPR staff members who interview job candidates for open positions. We also require that diversity be represented among the pool of candidates for recruited positions.
This list is not exhaustive, and the work described here continues to evolve. This is an all-staff effort. Many have stepped up and stepped out to be leaders in building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NPR, including the staff leaders of almost a dozen Employee Resource Groups launched in January. NPR continues to have powerful and productive conversations about all aspects of our business with our partners at SAG-AFTRA and NABET and we want to work together to support DEI at NPR.
It is essential that we continue to work in partnership with Member stations to support the health and effectiveness of workplaces across public media, and to build more diverse audiences.
Diversity is not a problem to be solved, but an opportunity to be realized. The stories of those whose voices have been missed — or silenced, or misrepresented — due to systemic racism and blindness can only make our coverage more meaningful, relevant, and compelling.
Reflecting America in how we staff and lead our institutions can only make our organizations more successful over time.
- It will create workplaces built on respect and inclusion, where all feel welcome and able to do their best work.
- It will lead to better recruitment and retention of people of color in our industry.
- It will give us the understanding and awareness we need to create content that is relevant to an increasingly diverse America, so that more people consume public radio on the air, online, and on new platforms.
- It will strengthen our business, attracting new members, supporters, and sponsors to our programming.
- It will enable us to achieve the public service aspirations that are so clearly outlined in our mission and in our name.
NPR CEO John Lansing states, "To do all this, the leaders in public media — starting with me — must be aware of how we ourselves have benefitted from white privilege in our careers. We must understand the unconscious bias we bring to our work and interactions. And we must commit ourselves — body and soul — to profound changes in ourselves and our institutions.
"We must do all this not as a 'project', not as an extracurricular activity, we must do this because, by definition, it is our work. It is inseparable from all of our collective efforts to serve the American audience with trustworthy content on all platforms.
"Lacking the values of DEI within our organizations will only diminish our ability to attract diverse audiences that represent the great mosaic that is America. Failing at DEI is not an option, because it would be tantamount to failing our mission to serve America. Therefore, we must get this right."