ISS Antiracism Plan
In June 2020, ISS issued a statement in response to George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, MN and the subsequent Black Lives Matter (#BLM) protests in communities across the United States and around the world. The events then and subsequent conversations made us realize that it wasn’t enough to have good intentions, we needed to focus on achieving equitable outcomes.
In his book How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi defines an antiracist policy as “any measure that produces or sustains racial equity among racial groups.” As an organization focused on supporting international schools that aim to educate global citizens, we recognize that we have a special responsibility to foster antiracist principles. Becoming more equitable is also ethically the right thing to do and is aligned with ISS’s mission and core values. We believe too that such efforts enhance personal and professional learning and growth among ISS staff and lead to better, more creative, and more compassionate decisions.
For all those reasons and more, in June 2020, we established an ISS antiracist committee, comprising about a quarter of ISS staff across departments, roles and locations, to gain various perspectives. The committee met throughout July and August of 2020 to develop a comprehensive plan to help ISS become more antiracist. We prioritized seven areas – Recruitment & Retention, Training, Services, Policies & Processes, Outreach, Feedback & Accountability, and ISS Schools – and identified desired outcomes, strategies and priorities for each area. The committee reviewed our progress monthly throughout the 2020-2021 school year to intensify our internal accountability. Below is a review of our desired outcomes, and strategies by focus area, as well as a summary of our progress to date and priorities for the 2021-2022 school year.
ISS has had a longstanding commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, as evidenced, for example, by our core value to “Advocate for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity,” our multi-year all-staff training using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), and our founding and shepherding of the Diversity Collaborative. This plan is an effort to redouble that commitment and shift from intent to effect, by focusing on antiracist outcomes and by tracking our progress toward achieving more equitable results. As a wide-reaching organization in the international school world, we believe that we can help spark progress across the international school sector, but only if we hold ourselves accountable and model the change we aspire to effect.
We recognize that our Progress to Date and 2021-2022 Priorities are preliminary steps on what will be an ongoing journey toward more antiracist behavior and outcomes.
Recruitment & Retention
- More diverse candidate pools for ISS Organizational openings
- More diverse ISS staff, at all levels of the organization, especially senior staff and including consultans
- ISS perceived by people of all backgrounds as being a good place to work
- Antiracist Job Postings – Add language to our job descriptions and job postings emphasizing ISS’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and review job qualifications to be sure that they are not unnecessarily limiting our pool of candidates.
- Diverse Candidate Pools – Increase the diversity of our candidate pools by broadening where we post jobs to include, BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) recruiters and job boards and networks that attract black and brown candidates.
- Antiracist Hiring Process – Commit to open, antiracist hiring processes rather than closed networks of referrals. Be sure that for all jobs, we advertise broadly, involve a wide range of perspectives in the screening process, and surface our own unconscious biases. Review hirings and promotions to be sure that the process is fair.
- Onboarding – During the onboarding process, reiterate our commitment to DEIJ (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice) and that we value diverse and new perspectives. Assign new employees a mentor from another department.
- Places to Report Concerns – Provide confidential places to talk about biased treatment within ISS (ombudsman role) and beyond ISS (Employee Assistance Program (EPA)).
- Offboarding – Through exit surveys, assess employees’ perceptions of how ISS does/does not value people from diverse backgrounds and/or with diverse perspectives.
Progress to Date
During the 2020-2021 school year, we put key recruitment and retention policies and practices in place, including:
- Emphasizing our commitment to antiracism in our job postings and during onboarding.
- Posting ISS job opportunities on BIPOC job boards and through BIPOC networks
- Implementing phone screens of candidates in an effort to mitigate implicit bias
- Conducting comprehensive, multi-week onboarding programs for new hires
- Appointing an internal ombudsperson and publicizing the DEIJ resources available through our EAP.
- Adding a question about DEIJ to our exit surveys.
We saw some demonstrable results from these efforts:
- 37.5% of the staff we hired at ISS in 2020-2021 were BIPOC.
We will promote and extend the antiracist recruitment and retention policies and practices that we began in 2020-2021, and we will draft research-based antiracist hiring pointers to distribute to all ISS staff involved in hiring.
In addition to tracking recruitment data, we will collect feedback and retention data for ISS employees and use the data we gather to further improve our recruitment and retention policies and practices. We will also continue to refine and strengthen our onboarding process and assign all new hires mentors both from within and beyond their departments.
- Knowledge of antiracism, privilege, implicit bias and related topics
- Willingness and ability to ask questions and have brave conversations
- Culture where everyone has a shared responsibility to address racist comments/behaviors
- Require all -staff antiracism training (individual and group).
- Promote opportunities to have brave conversations.
- Make antiracism resources easily accessible.
- Encourage participation in external DEIJ trainings, especially those organized by BIPOC organizations.
Progress to Date
We organized three all-staff trainings on privilege, bias and racism led by Darnell Fine, and hosted monthly, optional book groups that were well attended. We also curated and promoted a padlet filled with antiracism resources and materials, organized DEIJ-related workshops through the Diversity Collaborative, Women’s Symposium, and our online PD initiative, and encouraged ISS staff to attend those and other DEIJ-related workshops, particularly those organized by BIPOC organizations.
- Develop a calendar of workshops for the coming school year building on our workshops in 2020-2021.
- Launch a required, biannual online training on racism to complement the biannual staff training we require on sexual harassment. Offer training to board as well as staff.
- Develop a train the trainer series of workshops to build our internal capacity for DEIJ training; participants in that series of workshops will develop and lead session for the whole ISS staff in 2022.
- Continue to develop and promote the ISS antiracism padlet.
- ISS programs and communications reflect our antiracist values
- Program areas have diverse vendors, clients and partners
- We feature diverse consultants and presenters in our programs
- We encourage our clients to commit to antiracist behaviors
- In our Recruitment services, focus on attracting diverse candidate pools, promoting and practicing antiracist hiring, screening candidates for racist behavior, enabling schools to highlight their antiracist policies and practices, providing support to BIPOC candidates, and gathering feedback from BIPOC educators and acting on that feedback to enhance recruitment and retention.
- Leverage ISS purchasing power to support more minority and women-owned businesses.
- Ensure we use diverse presenters and consultants in all ISS programs.
- Continue to highlight diversity, ISS’s commitment to antiracism, and DEIJ stories and practices on the ISS website and in our communications.
- Actively expand our professional networks to include more BIPOC organizations and BIPOC international educators.
- Monitor partners/clients for egregious racist behavior and/or sustained issues and impose restrictions as appropriate.
Progress to Date
- We convened an antiracist task force comprised of 10 BIPOC international educators to advise us how to make ISS’s Recruiting services more antiracist. We incorporated many of those suggestions, such as removing photos and references to Native English speakers from candidate profiles and job postings, and hosting antiracist workshops and a BIPOC booth at our iFairs®. We also included a number of recommended features in our new ISS EDUrecruit platform, including:
- a racism screen to complement our child protection screen,
- a competency-based reference that can be completed by colleagues and parents as well as supervisors,
- a dedicated section for schools to share and highlight their DEIJ commitments and initiatives, and
- a decentering of qualifiers, such as nationality, that exclude experienced educators.
- Plans are underway for a badge system to highlight among other things, schools’ commitment to DEIJ.
- 50% of the people hired for school leadership positions through our Administrative Recruitment services in 2020-2021 were women, 25% of the hires were BIPOC, and 20% had passports beyond the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, compared to 48%, 5% and 19%, respectively in 2017-2018. We shared this data as well as narrative features on many of the new leaders to start to change people’s mindsets about what an international school leader looks like.
- We offered a range of DEIJ online workshops and engaged presenters and workshop leaders from diverse backgrounds.
- We began to work with more diverse vendors and partners across our program areas.
- We ensured that ISS promotions featured diverse voices and faces and promoted DEIJ efforts widely and regularly to keep the topic front of mind for international educators.
- Global Recruitment
- Reconvene the antiracist recruitment task force to maintain our momentum in creating a more antiracist recruiting process and ISS EDUrecruit platform
- Continue to experiment with ways to attract and encourage more diverse candidates by, for example, reaching out to teacher training programs with large BIPOC student populations.
- Track not only recruitment data, but also feedback and retention data from our administrative search placements. Analyze the data we gather to further improve our recruitment and retention policies and practices.
- Assist schools recruiting with ISS adopt more antiracist hiring practices and develop policies regarding schools who reject DEIJ considerations in recruitment and retention.
- School Supply, Foundations, Finance and Facilities – Redouble our efforts in School Supply and other departments to engage and promote more “minority-owned” businesses. Continue to curate and promote a packet of educational BIPOC materials. Track progress.
- Professional Learning – Continue to engage and promote our diverse partners and consultants and offer a range of DEIJ professional learning offerings. Leverage DEIJ materials from subject-area deep dives.
- Communications – Continue to share our learnings and promote DEIJ stories and efforts.
Policies & Practices
- ISS policies and practices reinforce and promote a commitment to antiracism and equitable outcomes
- ISS employees actively demonstrate a commitment to antiracism
- ISS employees get to know each other across departments, locations and backgrounds
- Edit employee handbook to reflect commitment to antiracism and periodically promote relevant policies.
- Ensure performance reviews reflect our commitment to antiracism.
- Restructure internal ISS committees to ensure broad, rotating participation.
- Help employees get to know each other across departments, roles, backgrounds and locations, especially through common interests.
Progress to Date
We developed and distributed an ISS antiracism policy and incorporated DEIJ questions in our annual performance reviews. We also articulated the purposes of all of ISS’s internal cross-departmental committees, and once we re-open the Princeton Office in the Fall of 2021, we will invite all ISS staff to serve on at least one committee.
- Periodically redistribute and reinforce ISS’s antiracism policy.
- Analyze the DEIJ data from the performance reviews to determine how we can continue our journey to become more antiracist.
- Encourage internal ISS committees to organize events and activities that foster a sense of belonging, shared purpose, and cross-departmental engagement and collaboration and strongly encourage all ISS employees to join at least one committee.
- Increased partnerships with BIPOC organizations and organizations that make antiracism a priority
- Deeper engagement with local community
- Increased civic engagement
- Greater commitment to DEIJ and antiracism in the international school sector
- Support BIPOC organizations focused on international education.
- Add mentoring or other personal components to local community service projects.
- Organize ISS service project(s) (to promote use of the two paid days to volunteer that ISS affords employees).
- Promote civic engagement by facilitating voting.
- Extend and deepen the work of the Diversity Collaborative and Women’s Symposium.
Progress to Date
During the 2020-2021, we focused on civic engagement by giving ISS staff time off to vote and organizing a workshop about Juneteenth. We also reached out and amplified the work of international school BIPOC organizations, organized a series of online workshops through the Women’s Symposium, and extended the reach and impact of the Diversity Collaborative, by establishing a diverse steering committee, strengthening the Collaborative’s mission and vision, publishing a leadership pipeline study written by a diverse group of international educators, presenting the work of the sub-committees in various online forums, and organizing workshops on timely topics for the membership, which now numbers nearly 900 educators.
- As the ISS Princeton Office reopens, supplement our ongoing civic engagement efforts with volunteer opportunities in the local community.
- Establish additional partnerships to amplify the work of BIPOC organizations focused on promoting antiracism and DEIJ in international schools.
- Continue to extend and deepen the work and impact of the Diversity Collaborative by providing research, tools and trainings to assist international schools’ and organizations’ efforts to become more antiracist.
- Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Symposium with meaningful programming.
Feedback & Accountability
- Wide variety of voices/perspectives at the table informing decision making
- Antiracist culture and climate at ISS
- Demonstrated progress/tangible evidence that ISS has become more antiracist
- Develop, implement and monitor ISS antiracism plan.
- Conduct periodic culture surveys and climate check-ins among ISS staff.
- Conduct client perception surveys.
- Establish BIPOC advisory committee(s).
Progress to Date
Having an explicit antiracism plan with articulated outcomes, strategies and priorities and monthly meetings of the antiracism committee kept us focused on our commitment to become more antiracist. We also experienced the value of engaging more diverse voices with the many excellent suggestions and ideas that the antiracism recruitment task force contributed to the development of our new ISS EDUrecruit platform, as well as the insights that having diverse authors brought to the Diversity Collaborative report on the differential experiences of educators of different genders, races and nationalities in their searches for leadership roles in international schools.
- Conduct a baseline climate survey at ISS to better understand the experiences of colleagues of different identities.
- Consider readministering the IDI to see what, if any, progress we have individually and collectively made in our intercultural awareness and skills since we first administered the survey in 2018.
- Embed DEIJ questions in our client surveys.
- Develop a graphical dashboard to track our progress.
- Increased numbers of people of different race backgrounds working at ISS schools
- More inclusive and equitable cultures through change of behaviors, policies and practices at ISS schools
- Use of articulated and integrated race equity lens at ISS schools to create cultures that are focused on proactive identification and reduction of race inequities inside and outside of an organization
Work with ISS school leaders to:
- Raise the level of awareness of racism and bias at ISS schools by gathering feedback from educators, staff, students and families.
- Increase understanding about what antiracism and a race equity culture entail through shared webinars and other educational opportunities.
- Integrate a race equity lens in all aspects of ISS schools.
- Connect ISS schools with other schools on similar journeys.
Progress to Date
Representatives from the three ISS governed schools attended the ISS all staff trainings. Each school focused on a different area of DEIJ work, including recruitment, outreach and training.
- Align governed schools around the three ISS anti-racist initiatives of Recruitment & Retention, Training, and Policies & Practices
- Hire a consultant to work with the ISS governed schools, individually and collectively to deepen their DEIJ/Anti-Racism work and develop context-specific plans with clearly articulated outcomes, strategies and priorities that can be applied widely.
- Deliverables of the consultant and governed schools teams:
- Develop and recommend an ISS Schools specific plan for anti-racist recruitment & retention practices
- Create a specific ISS Schools anti-racist training manual/toolbox/course that can be used with or without consultant or SLE support in managed, affiliate or non-ISS schools
- Design specific anti-racist policies and practices to be included in ISS policy manuals, in particular in HR and Student sections
Key Learnings & Insights
The process of becoming more antiracist requires:
- Ongoing work and dialogue
- Including diverse voices around the table to surface biases and blind spots and foster more creative, robust decision making
- A willingness to be vulnerable, a comfort with conflict and disagreement, and the courage to interrogate our privileges and examine common practices and assumptions in the international school sector
- An understanding of how our own contexts and identities affect our perspectives, experiences, and networks
- A focus on outcomes
- Systematic data collection and reflection
- A growth mindset