Explore stories that highlight our diverse lived experiences.
Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Journey
Mathematica believes that organizations can best make progress together when they have a common purpose, shared values, and a mutual desire to learn from and with one another. We are proud to partner with organizations that share our vision for shaping a more equitable and just world and our passion for uncovering objective evidence that can chart the path forward. Mathematica’s 1,400+ colleagues listen to, respect, and share life experiences with the communities we serve, reflecting and advancing our mission of improving public well-being. That is why our ongoing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) journey is changing who we are; how we relate to each other, our partners, and our communities; and how we approach our work. We know that evidence is credible when the methods of our trade are carried out by diverse, equitable, and inclusive project teams. Moreover, evidence is credible—and understanding is enhanced—when the communities that are the focus of our work have a voice in what we do and what it means.
Learn more about how our commitment to DE&I guides our actions, policies, and practices.
Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Matters
At Mathematica, we are driven by our mission to improve public well-being, and it is important to our 1,400 employee owners that we reflect the diverse communities we serve. Because Mathematica exists to uncover evidence and insights that guide actions and decisions about our world’s most complex social challenges, we take the credibility of evidence seriously. The credibility of our work is enriched as we work to foster more diverse, balanced, and inclusive project teams with lived experiences that provide an authentic understanding of the communities affected by our work. Credibility and understanding are further enhanced when the communities that are the focus of our work have a voice in what we do and are active partners in applying evidence to policies and practices.
Read more about what our colleagues have to say about DE&I:
- Chris Williams, founder of OnPacePlus and Paul Decker, president and CEO of Mathematica, discuss their personal experiences with race and discrimination, as well as how current events informed Mathematica’s engagement in the national dialogue about racial discrimination.
- Cleo Jacobs Johnson, a senior researcher at Mathematica and Kilolo Kijakazi, an Institute Fellow at the Urban Institute highlight what organizations can do to address structural racism in policy research.
- Julie Bruch, a senior researcher at Mathematica shares what she and the Adult Promise grantees have learned about incorporating racial equity priorities in college completion initiatives at the state-level.
- Mitchell Beers, a program analyst and Kerry Schellenberger, a research programmer at Mathematica recount how they partnered with the communications team and other colleagues to improve equity and inclusion for trans and nonbinary individuals including making our internal communications more inclusive and updating workplace practices.
Growing Diverse and Inclusive Teams
For years, our belief that complex societal problems require multidisciplinary teams led us to focus on a diversity of disciplines. Our work has greatly benefited from growing our ranks of experts that include economists, demographers, social workers, health care clinicians, educators, professional project managers, data scientists, statisticians, sociologists, and public health professionals. At the same time, we recognize that strengthening our efforts to recruit and retain people with diverse backgrounds, identities, and experiences—especially Black and Latinx colleagues, veterans, and those with disabilities—will make us a stronger and more effective organization.
Today, several strategies are helping increase inclusion and equity at Mathematica and, in turn, the diversity of our team. We partner with historically Black colleges and universities to raise awareness of employment opportunities at Mathematica and to promote professional development programs, such as the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science. To broaden our talent pool and increase access and opportunities for those interested in becoming a part of our team, we instituted a policy that ensures that we interview at least one candidate from an underrepresented background before making any senior-level hires. Mathematica’s Summer Fellowship Program, in which Ph.D. candidates spend 12 weeks at Mathematica working on an independent research project, will soon be augmented by an internship program for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, with an intentional focus on recruiting participants from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.
Measuring Our DE&I Efforts
Our efforts to grow a more inclusive and diverse team are beginning to show success. For example, nine summer fellows have joined Mathematica as staff after completing their dissertations. When we introduced concerted efforts to diversify incoming talent in 2015, 75 percent of our U.S.-based staff—and 84 percent of senior staff—identified as White. Today, fewer staff identify as White—70 percent of all U.S.-based staff and 79 percent of senior staff. In 2019, 22 percent of all staff we hired for U.S. positions identified as Black or Latinx/Hispanic, compared with 11 percent in 2017. Among senior staff hired in 2019, 19 percent identified as Black or Latinx/Hispanic, compared with 13 percent in 2017. And although representation of veterans and people with disabilities in our workforce is still too low, we have increased the number of hires in both categories and continue to work to develop effective hiring strategies and build relationships with organizations that can help with recruitment. But diversifying our incoming talent is only part of Mathematica’s approach for building DE&I within our organization. Ensuring a positive experience and a greater sense of inclusion and equity among our colleagues is essential for retaining staff and is our focus moving forward.
Women make up more than two-thirds of Mathematica’s overall staff and nearly two-thirds of our senior leadership team. More than half of Mathematica’s board of directors are women; people of color make up nearly 30 percent of the board.
In our work with clients, we often examine the difference between outcomes and intent. When we look at our own diversity efforts in these terms, we know we must do better.
Fostering an Inclusive Work Culture
We learned from our first organizational culture survey in 2015 that staff satisfaction with their supervisors and access to mentors differed by race, ethnicity, and other demographics. In response, we implemented the following changes to foster a more inclusive work culture:
- Diversity Council. The Diversity Council’s mission is to develop activities that foster awareness and understanding of the importance of DE&I at Mathematica and in the field of policy research and analytics. The Council includes staff from all our office locations, including full-time remote staff, employee resource group leaders, and an Equity Community of Practice leader supported by our CEO and other executive leaders.
- Employee resource groups (ERGs). We established five ERGs to help staff feel more supported and better prepared to approach work challenges related to their identity. The ERGs create opportunities for more open communication about diversity and inclusion and their importance in our work. The ERGs also provide opportunities to improve our cultural competence and ultimately benefit the diverse populations affected by our work.
- Mentoring program. In 2018, we created a mentoring program that, to date, has paired 175 early-career staff with senior colleagues for at least six months of frequent interaction and access to career development resources.
- Unconscious bias training. Senior managers and supervisors go through several hours of training to raise awareness of undetected biases and learn specific techniques to address these biases and help all staff feel included and valued in our workplace.
- Inclusion training. In 2021, we launched a new DE&I course for supervisors and staff that teaches strategies and skills for creating and nurturing innovative teams where people from all backgrounds are respected, valued, and given opportunities to contribute.
- Humans of Mathematica. Internally, Mathematica produces digital profiles that let staff share with colleagues—in their own words—stories about their personal and career journeys. To date, the 80 profiles on our intranet have become a cherished way to build community and better understand, communicate, and celebrate diversity and inclusion.
- My Mathematica. Adapted from our internal Humans of Mathematica interviews, this blog series enables staff to share their experiences and underscores how Mathematica values the diverse journeys of our staff and thrives because of them.
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) pledge to DE&I. Paul Decker, our president and CEO, joined CEO Action for Diversity and InclusionTM with a pledge to check his own bias, speak up for others, and show up for all. He also convened leaders from across the research and evaluation industry to establish a consortium of organizations dedicated to making meaningful and lasting progress toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.
Building an Equity Community of Practice
We are honing our equitable evaluation skills through internal capacity building and our work with clients. Nearly 100 Mathematica staff participate in our Equity Community of Practice to examine our evaluation approaches and values in service of equity-focused grantmaking and policymaking. Our Equity Community of Practice works to (1) internalize an equity results process and identify the culture change required to partner with foundations, grantees, and government agencies; (2) provide a structure and resources to continuously incorporate equity principles into project work; and (3) foster collaboration and connectedness among colleagues and external partners for achieving the vision and commitment to equity.
We applied equitable evaluation principles to a recent project with the Colorado Health Foundation that sought to foster youth resiliency and reduce inequities among young people in Colorado, especially LGBTQ youth and youth of color. The project team captured the perspectives of nontraditional service providers and populations facing inequities; examined its own biases as researchers; and designed research protocols with a learning from and with mentality, in which all parties of an evaluation bring equal, if different, value to the table.
“Centering equity in our research is ‘heart’ work just as much as it is hard work. But we’re not alone in this journey, as our philanthropic partners push the boundaries of our research and engage us to sharpen their equity lens to deepen their social impact. We are building our capacity and leaning all the way into incorporating equity principles through our Equity Community of Practice to drive transformational change with our foundation, government, nonprofit, and corporate partners.”
Kimberlin Butler Director of Foundation Engagement, Equity Community of Practice Lead
Practicing Culturally Competent and Equitable Research, Evaluation, and Analytics
Mathematica is committed to cocreating high quality and objective evidence that demonstrates understanding and appreciation for the context in which our work takes place. In order to conduct our work in a more culturally responsive and inclusive manner, our approaches are evolving, including the decisions we make when designing, conducting, and analyzing the results of research and analytics. For those in our field, we facilitate important conversations on building cultural responsiveness into a range of complex topics that the research community is studying, including health care for LGBTQ individuals and the effectiveness of culturally responsive pedagogy. In work for the Regional Educational Laboratory Mid-Atlantic, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, we highlighted culturally responsive practices that schools might consider to support learning during and after the pandemic; these practices seek to dissolve artificial separations between students’ academic experiences and their lived experiences at home and in their communities. As this September 2020 blog attests, we’ve engaged community members not only to collect data from individuals, but also to improve how we developed health care quality measures, implemented a psychiatric crisis respite intervention, and identified effective interventions for complex community problems.
Soliciting and incorporating the voices and perspectives of the communities we aim to serve, Mathematica’s work with tribal communities involves two-way learning throughout the research process and led us to include community-driven interventions such as talking circles, Native American healers, equine therapy, and other long-standing Native American healing practices and outcomes in our review of evidence-based practices to address trauma. This more inclusive approach made our findings more relevant and useful to the tribal communities that contributed generously to the work.
At Mathematica, we humbly recognize that we do not have all the answers and that the experts include those who live in the communities we serve. Collaborating closely with these vital partners, we’re proud to offer research and analysis that illuminate a path to progress.
Researching Racism and Inequality
Structural racism in the United States is a historic and ongoing threat to the lives of people of color, particularly for Black Americans. Together with our partners, Mathematica offers relevant research and analysis that can respond with evidence-based solutions, and illuminate a path to progress.
Applying DE&I Practices with Our Partners
We collaborate with organizations seeking to expand the pool of professionals from underrepresented backgrounds who work in organizations like ours. For example, we participate in the Expanding the Bench initiative to provide historically underrepresented minority researchers and evaluators an opportunity to work on client-funded evaluations at Mathematica. We have also partnered with Howard University to develop a Summer Institute in Computational Social Science (SICSS). The SICSS program is intended to provide training to graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and junior faculty about how digital data can address issues of ethics and equity. In addition, we are a proud sponsor of the Sadie Collective, which aims to empower Black women to enter the field of economics, data science, and related fields. In fact, we sponsored the Sadie Collective’s inaugural Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference, which promoted racial and gender diversity in economics and related fields.
Mathematica also financially supports and actively participates in initiatives like the Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession and Project L/EARN, both of which work to increase diversity in key policy research fields. When pursuing client projects, we form team arrangements with diverse nonprofit and research organizations that are led by or committed to developing researchers of color.
Furthermore, our Communications team works with our partners to develop, promote, and disseminate digital and electronic products that use plain English, inclusive language, and images that reflect diversity and equity. We work to promote accessibility of all products, ensuring that publicly available reports, webinars, web content, and other products are presented in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and amendments.
Collaborating with Our Partners to Advance DE&I
Mathematica has been pleased to collaborate with Learning for Action, ChangeMatrix, and other organizations that have connected us with people of color, women, LGBTQ groups, and other populations whose voices are often marginalized or absent from policy decisions that affect their lives. We are also exploring partnerships with other mission-driven and DE&I-focused organizations to facilitate connections with underrepresented groups.
Below, our partners share in their own words how we have worked together to promote DE&I:
“The [Mathematica] team had been incredibly thoughtful and willing to engage in a deep, reflective exercise about bias, to think about how that might impact the work so [they] could take steps to avoid [biases]. [Mathematica was] willing to be really transparent and share openly with us as a client the results of their thinking. I found this to be so refreshing given that the evaluator/funder relationship can so often be one where the evaluator feels that they must present themselves as a totally objective expert. Mathematica was willing to share in a different kind of conversation and relationship around how we infuse equity into the work.”
Senior Director of Learning and Evaluation
“As a partner organization, we have experienced and appreciated that Mathematica and our team have spoken the same language around equity. We have made sure that the monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) plan includes components oriented to supporting work on the ground, incorporates diverse perspectives throughout the MEL effort, and articulates an expansive view on what constitutes data.”
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
“In evaluating The Right Time initiative—a statewide effort to expand contraceptive access—the Mathematica team continually offers thoughtful advice and explores methodologies that have broadened our understanding of the many facets of equitable access. Through their nuanced data analysis and approachable presentations, they raise important questions that have been critical to guiding the ongoing, real-time adaptation of our initiative toward more equitable contraceptive care.”
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
“Mathematica’s journey on racial equity is remarkable. It has moved from transactional contractual relationship to transformational in front of my eyes. Hiring Kimberlin [Butler], a woman of color, to its leadership team signaled a fundamental shift at Mathematica and made its commitment to racial equity real [in the philanthropy sector]. Her tremendous knowledge and expansive networks in philanthropy have deepened our conversations as well as contributed to the field’s evaluation of equitable outcomes as a thought partner. The visioning dialogues and consistent engagement with Cleo [Jacobs Johnson] and Kimberlin have shown Mathematica’s increased ability to advance racial equity agenda.”
Director of Learning and Impact