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 passion for uncovering objective evidence. Our colleagues listen to, respect, and often share life experiences with the communities we serve, reflecting and advancing our mission of improving public well-being. We know that evidence can have a greater impact 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 DEI 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 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. Hear more from some of our staff:
Learn more about what our colleagues have to say about DEI
- 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, senior researcher and manager, DEI engagement and outreach 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.
- Kimberlin Butler, a senior director of foundation engagement at Mathematica and Mindelyn Anderson, sociologist, founder, and principal at Mirror Group consulting firm discuss how they became interested in culturally responsive and equitable research, the role philanthropy plays in centering equity in research, and how research organizations can avoid common pitfalls as they seek to incorporate equity in their work.
- So O'Neil, director of Mathematica's health philanthropy portfolio and Deliya Banda Wesley, senior director of health equity at Mathematica write about developing a shared definition of health equity among public health researchers and a framework for advancing health equity.
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.
Our DEI Strategic Plan
In 2021, Mathematica embarked on a strategic planning process in support of our vision to shape an equitable and just world. The result of that process is our 2022–2027 DEI Strategic Plan. This five-year plan sets a clear direction for our DEI goals, actions, and expected outcomes and positions us to make meaningful impact in the coming years.
The creation of the plan is also a signpost on our DEI journey, as we work toward our “North Star” — demonstrating through our people, work, and practices that DEI is the why, what, and how we achieve our mission to improve public well-being.
We organized the plan around four interrelated strategic pillars: workforce, workplace, our work, and the marketplace.
“We want to make sure we promote access to mission-oriented opportunities for all Mathematica staff, regardless of race, ethnicity, life experiences, and other factors that have too often constrained opportunities for individuals in our nation due to bias, conscious or unconscious.”
President and CEO
“The DEI pillars are rooted in the belief that as we evolve as individuals and collectively as an organization, so will our work and its impact.”
Vice President, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer
Guiding Principles of the DEI Strategic Plan
We support the strategic pillars of the plan with six foundational principles that frame and ground our DEI efforts.
1. Evidence and best practice inform our efforts. We use internal and external evidence and insights to inform strategy, planning, and decision making.
2. Our approach is disciplined and systematic. We approach our work in an organized, measured, and methodical manner.
3. We share accountability. We create accountability across the organization for advancing DEI goals.
4. Courageous innovation and transformation are encouraged. We lead boldly, take chances, and are nimble. We challenge typical ways of thinking and doing. We are willing to support new concepts and practices.
5. All staff are engaged and demonstrate a collaborative spirit. Colleagues across the company demonstrate a participatory and partnering orientation to the work. We have a collectivistic mindset and break down siloed practices.
6. Our work results in demonstrated, sustained, and measurable impact. We develop data-informed and iterative processes to show the effectiveness of our actions.
These principles guide the way we think about and engage in our work to advance DEI.
The DEI Strategic Plan reflects greater intentionality around holding ourselves accountable for the organizational change and actions needed to drive the transformation and impact we seek. As we integrate the plan into how Mathematica works, we will share how we are learning, evolving, and progressing together.
Measuring Our DEI Efforts
Our efforts to grow a more inclusive and diverse team are beginning to show success. For example, 13 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—69 percent of all U.S.-based staff and 82 percent of senior staff.
In 2021, 23 percent of all staff we hired for U.S. positions identified as Black or Latinx/Hispanic, compared with 17 percent in 2020. Among senior staff hired in 2021, 25 percent identified as Black or Latinx/Hispanic, compared with 13 percent in 2020. 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 DEI 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 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:
- Employee Experience Council. The charge of the Employee Experience Council (formerly the Diversity Council) is to support the improvement of the employee experience, in alignment with our DEI priorities and goals, and the quality of our products by bringing a DEI lens to our internal procedures, our public face, and our daily interactions. To achieve this, the Council will serve as an advisory group, innovation hub, and think tank for DEI efforts. The Council is charged with leading educational and learning opportunities to advance DEI to ensure DEI collaboration, knowledge sharing, and activity alignment with the strategic plan across office areas and employee resource groups (ERGs).
- Employee resource groups (ERGs). We established seven 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 285 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 DEI 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 DEI. 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.
Practicing Culturally Competent and Equitable Research, Evaluation, and Analytics
Mathematica is committed to co-creating high quality and objective evidence that demonstrates understanding and appreciation for the context in which our work takes place. To conduct our work in a more culturally responsive and inclusive manner, our approaches carefully consider the decisions we make when designing, conducting, analyzing, and sharing 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 developed a body of evidence to inform researchers and educators about how to advance educational equity and engage in highlighted culturally responsive practices.
Internally, we are honing our equitable evaluation skills through capacity building and our work with clients. Nearly 100 Mathematica staff participated in our Equity Community of Practice training sessions, which provided us an opportunity 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.
At Mathematica, we also humbly recognize that we do not have all the answers and that the experts include those who live in the communities we serve, which is why we solicit and incorporate the voices and perspectives of communities. When we work with tribal communities, for example, we incorporate more two-way learning approaches that allow us to gain insights from their stories and understand what research topics are important to them.
Sharing knowledge, continuing to develop our equitable and culturally response research practices, and collaborating closely with communities are ways we 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 DEI 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 participated 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 DEI
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 DEI-focused organizations to facilitate connections with underrepresented groups.
Below, our partners share in their own words how we have worked together to promote DEI:
“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