External company conducts first diversity survey of school, identifies areas to improve

Kamala Durairaj

The first of three diversity surveys was conducted by third party HR Matrix Sept. 29-30 to assess upper school community members’ experience with diversity on campus.
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and administration made a joint decision to hire an outside group to impartially evaluate the school’s treatment of all aspects of diversity, including race, socioeconomic status and gender. HR Matrix “specializes in human resources consulting and organization development,” according to their website.
“We’re using an external firm to help us do this work because we feel it’s valuable for somebody on the outside, who doesn’t necessarily know our community, take the temperature of our environment and hold up a mirror to ourselves and say, ‘this is what you actually look like,’” project manager and HW Works administrator Zaakirah Daniels ’10 said.
While administrators feel that a third party’s evaluation of this issue would be beneficial, students have expressed their doubts that this survey will affect change on campus.
“I don’t think the school needs an outside source to tell us that we have an issue with diversity. It’s pretty obvious,” Naomi Barlava ’17 said.
One hundred to 150 students, faculty, staff, parents and administration will be interviewed over the course of the three visits. Diversity consultants will divide community members into focus groups of four to 10 people and smaller groups of two to three individuals to have more in-depth conversations.
They will meet with each constituent group individually in the Advancement House to ensure that their views can be openly communicated.
“It’s a nice cross section of our community, and splitting up those 150 participants over six days feels more manageable,” Daniels said. “[HR Matrix] travels with two consultants each visit: one on the Upper School and one on the Middle School.”
During their first visit, HR Matrix interviewed members of the Prefect Council and the middle school student council.
“I feel so grateful to have been a part of such an interesting discussion because I really admire that our school is working towards being a more ‘diverse and inclusive community,’ and that it’s also letting students have a voice in the initiative,” sophomore prefect Caroline Cook ’19 said.
However, the diversity survey coordinators have not yet decided how they will incorporate the views of the general student population during their upcoming visits Oct. 27-28 and Nov. 7-8.
“We know that we want to hit prefect council and student council since they’re our student government,” Daniels said. “We want some representation from our cultural and social affinity groups. But we need to target more students who are not necessarily involved in the school in clubs or groups like that.”
The survey will ask participants about their role in the school, their experience with diversity and their assessment of how the school is handling diversity and inclusivity. The school hopes to have the feedback before winter break.
“After that, it’s up to us to work together and create an inclusive school culture together,” Daniels said.