Why Should Organizations and Public Policy Researchers Care About the Future of DEI?

Q&A with Rhianna Rogers

Jack Riley

Rhianna Rogers, inaugural director of RAND’s Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy, and Anita Chandra, Vice President and Director, RAND Social and Economic Well-Being, reflect on the first phase of the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy and the path ahead.

Anita: As you end your term with RAND, where do you see DEI today and what role should the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy continue to play moving forward?

Rhianna: My time at RAND and leading its racial equity agenda has been nothing short of a privilege. I am deeply grateful for collaborations across equity fields, institutions, RAND external steering committee members, academics, researchers, and community organizations. My time at RAND has been life changing. The camaraderie and collective efforts witnessed in my roles as the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy director and as a senior policy researcher have significantly contributed to my personal and professional growth, an invaluable outcome for which I extend my heartfelt appreciation. I can’t wait to see what the next director does to move RAND’s racial equity agenda forward!

The center can play a pivotal role in furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion research efforts by focusing on several key areas:

  • Research and Analysis: The center will continue to support rigorous research to identify and understand systemic racial inequities across various policy domains.
  • Policy Development: The center can actively inform policy choices that address racial inequities. This involves collaborating with policymakers, community leaders, and stakeholders to develop actionable policy solutions aimed at dismantling systemic barriers and promoting equity.
  • Community Engagement and Collaboration: Engaging with affected communities is crucial for understanding lived experiences and effectively addressing their needs. The center should actively involve diverse voices and foster collaborations with grassroots organizations and community leaders to ensure that policies are inclusive and responsive to various perspectives.
  • Education and Training: The center will continue to raise awareness and foster understanding of racial equity issues through educational initiatives, training programs, and workshops.
  • Evaluation and Accountability: Establishing metrics and mechanisms for evaluating the effectiveness of policies and initiatives is vital. The center will continue to play a role in assessing the impact of interventions, ensuring accountability, and continuously refining strategies to achieve meaningful progress in advancing racial equity.

Anita: Why should organizations and public policy researchers care about the future of DEI?

Rhianna: Organizations and public policy researchers should deeply care about the future of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for several critical reasons:

  • Social Responsibility and Ethical Imperative: Fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t just a matter of compliance or optics; it’s a fundamental ethical obligation. Ensuring fair and equitable treatment for all individuals, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic aligns with principles of justice, fairness, and basic human rights.
  • Addressing Systemic Inequities: Public policy researchers play a crucial role in identifying systemic inequities and developing evidence-based solutions to address them. By understanding the root causes of disparities in healthcare, education, criminal justice, technology, and other domains, researchers can inform policy decisions that aim to rectify these inequalities and create a fairer society for all.
  • Future Preparedness and Sustainability: As societies become increasingly diverse, embracing DEI is not just about current needs; it's about preparing for the future. To thrive in a globalized world, organizations must be adaptable, culturally competent, and able to navigate diverse environments effectively.

Prioritizing DEI isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s also a strategic advantage. Organizations and policymakers that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion are better positioned to succeed, innovate, and contribute positively to society in the long term.

Learn more about the center’s current research, make a contribution, or email us at racialequity@rand.org.

Anita: Any final thoughts?

Rhianna: I am excited to see where the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy goes in 2024 and beyond. Working with RAND colleagues and external stakeholders has been a pleasure, and I remain sincerely grateful for RAND commitment to this center and its continued efforts to make the world a better place for all.

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