Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Aug 15, 2020


Over the past few months, like so many of you, I’ve seen the impact of systemic racism through a new lens. The global pandemic, the killing of George Floyd and the continuing civil unrest have laid bare the historic racial inequities and injustices in our country.  It’s impossible for me not to feel pained by the tremendous suffering caused by our nation’s discriminatory policies and attitudes. Never have I been more aware of my privilege or more committed to strengthening our organization’s culture through investment in greater equity, inclusion and diversity.

We are a mission-driven organization, and I know that we can thrive only as we increase the diversity of voices and perspectives evident in who we are and in all we do.  The dramatic disruptions we are now experiencing have deepened and accelerated my commitment to do several things: evaluate what we have done, do more of what is working, stop doing things that are causing inequities and are barriers to inclusion, and find new ways to work together with everyone who cares about our workplace and our public service.

During my nine years as CEO of American Public Media Group (APMG), we have invested in increasing our racial, ethnic and gender diversity, and we have worked to create an inclusive environment and maintain equity throughout our growing group of organizations. We’ve taken intentional steps to strengthen our culture, updating our shared values and integrating employee feedback into annual objectives and new initiatives.

Today, the APM Group has 675 full-and-part-time employees, 24.6% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and 54.8% of whom are women. Among those who are executives and senior-level managers, 50% are women and 23.1% are BIPOC.  The American Public Media (APM) and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) board currently has 25 Active Members, including 12 women (48%) and seven members who identify as BIPOC (28%).  And while these percentages reflect progress, we can and we must do even more.  To truly become a preferred workplace for women and people of color, and to create trusted and meaningful experiences for more diverse audiences, we must listen intently, reflect on what we hear and learn, and take action that drives meaningful, measurable and enduring change.

We recently announced a dozen new and ambitious actions – reflecting input gathered from hundreds of employees through engagement surveys, resource groups and candid conversations over time – to accelerate our progress.

While each of these actions is being led by a senior executive who reports directly to me, every leader across the APM Group has responsibility for advancing this work. Our collective efforts and accountability are essential because no one of us has all the answers.

The following areas represent our current priorities, and we are implementing and reporting on specific actions in each of these areas:

•      Increased workforce and leader diversity through new investments in recruiting, retention and development of women and candidates from historically underrepresented populations, independent compensation audits to ensure continued pay equity, and more transparent reporting on our workforce and leadership diversity;

•      Mandatory inclusion training for all leaders and employees;

•      Amplifying important conversations about racism, disparities and marginalized voices by leveraging our research, insights, media platforms and programming;

•      Investments in employee communication to be more inclusive and create strategic understanding and provide more ways to participate in our public service;

•      Enhanced professional development and feedback for leaders through management training, 360-feedback and performance goals; and,

•      Annual Board discussion to review and guide our diversity, equity and inclusion goals and progress.

This list will evolve over time to include other areas and more actions that will both strengthen our culture and help us transform our work to serve and build meaningful, trusted relationships with new and diverse audiences.

For more than 53 years, we have been guided by our mission to inform and inspire the people we serve. Fulfilling this mission requires a talented, dedicated and diverse team and a work environment that truly belongs to everyone. It requires innovation that is only possible through the collaboration of passionate people with different lived experiences and perspectives, and it requires relevant programming and public services that create increasing value for the curious, richly diverse audiences and communities we serve.

On behalf of our Board and management team, I am deeply committed to making our organization more diverse, inclusive and equitable for all – listening, learning and taking actions that ensure our work continues to enrich minds, nourish spirits, enhance lives and strengthen communities.

Jon McTaggart
American Public Media Group