WHERE WE ARE IN OUR JEDI JOURNEY
We began our exploration by asking what Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (commonly referred to as JEDI) means to us and our company. We then found an external partner—who we still work with—to support our learning; we didn’t want to fall into the trap of expecting employees of color or those from marginalized communities to shoulder extra emotional labor and teach us what we don’t know. After realizing a need for greater base-level understanding of social justice pedagogy, we embarked on a company-wide curriculum of learning to draw connections between systemic oppression and our work as systems designers. The more we deepened our awareness of the cycles of socialization and liberation, the more we saw how we too are trying to make organizations more liberated places to be and work.
Now, we're actively looking for ways in our work and operating system (OS) to energize our values and intentions. For example, we’re applying our understanding of how marginalization and inequity show up in our work to evolve how we charter teams, support different learning needs, and distribute power. Additionally, we have teams across the organization advancing their learning and participating in affinity groups. Our JEDI work doesn’t exist on the sidelines or in a silo; it’s woven into the fabric of our organization. In no way does that mean we have systems that function perfectly. We learn, we make mistakes, we change, we learn again. So while we can’t promise an environment free of missteps and microaggressions, we can promise a protected space to raise concerns, name tensions, and design and advocate for meaningful change.
WHERE OUR HIRING PROCESS IS HEADED
The Ready’s hiring process has evolved over time. However, there is no final or finished state. Hiring practices are often rooted in oppressive practices, so we’ve tried to build better ones—like testing for skills rather than experience, not asking for resumes, and anonymously reviewing applications—and recognize knowledge that often goes undervalued in the consulting field.
There are many paths to making complex systems more human, and The Ready’s team represents these multiple pathways. Some arrive with a background in agile or product development; others come with training in DEI practices or team coaching. There’s no singular job or industry that delivers the “right” amount or constellation of skills needed for this work. In fact, we blend diverse skills to create teams that can meet organizations where they are in their own journey.
Yet despite our individual hiring efforts, we also acknowledge the systemic forces these efforts bump up against. Simply put, the consulting industry tends to skew white and male, as people holding those identities have historically been granted the access and authority to advise and challenge companies to be better. This contributes to a self-perpetuating cycle of systemic white supremacy in organizations. It’s crucial that we look beyond our own homogeneous networks to bring different perspectives and experiences to our mission of changing how the world works.
The Ready is currently a predominantly white organization, so we’ve designed a hiring process that minimizes bias in part because we’re likely unaware of the many personal biases we hold while hiring. Our hiring data shows that we’re not inadvertently discriminating against people who don’t look like the majority of our members. However, most of our applicants are white, which means that a hiring process effectively mitigating against bias cannot alone increase the diversity of our membership. The new challenge—and new opportunity—we now have is to encourage people from typically underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds to apply, and to be clear in our commitment to make The Ready a more inclusive place before, during, and after they arrive.
WHY WE’RE PARTNERS, NOT EMPLOYEES
Everyone at The Ready is a partner of the company and we take that seriously. The policies and practices we have to support our members emerged from their own needs, ideas, and experiments. There’s no convincing a leadership team to do something differently. In fact, there is no leadership team.
Our membership does not currently reflect the diversity we aspire it to—and that may mean The Ready isn’t the right place for you. But because we don’t have traditional structures of power, there is more room to challenge our system and work in ways that are more equitable. At The Ready, authority is distributed in a way that removes many of the typical barriers people with marginalized identities can experience at work. For example:
- The Ready’s compensation data is transparent and members set their own salaries. That gives people the power to determine what they make rather than lobbying leadership for approval.
- Any member of The Ready has the authority to propose a new agreement or changes to an agreement (including policies) to any area of the business or for the company as a whole.
- The Ready has a constraint-based rather than permission-based system, which means any member has the authority to do something as long as it hasn't been explicitly constrained rather than being required to ask for permission.
We are proud that our OS is designed to be equitable and inclusive. At the same time, we have more work to do to ensure that the access and use of our shared power is equitable in practice, and we’re continuously learning ways to increase equity in our system. Clarifying our roles as partners rather than employees is not an attempt to overstate what our current system can or does deliver. Rather, it’s an attempt to point toward this way of working’s potential for greater inclusivity—and to encourage those with different experiences and identities to join us in shaping and realizing that future together.