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After three site visits, 17 focus groups, and several agency and entity-wide surveys, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has completed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Audit as recommended by the 223rd General Assembly (2018).

The audit, conducted by the Washington Consulting Group (WCG), included data from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, Office of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Foundation, Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc., Administrative Services Group, Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program, Inc., and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

The WCG looked at staff perspectives on:

  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Level of comfort interacting with staff and leadership
  • Experiences with discrimination, harassment, and intimidation
  • Perceptions/experiences with the promotion process
  • Perceptions of accessibility and challenges encountered by those who are differently abled.

“The team performed a very thorough review of church operations and through their onsite visits they were able to gauge how we interact and present ourselves to those who come through our doors,” said the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA).

Among the findings:

  • Respondents placed strong personal value on diversity and equity.
  • The majority of PC(USA) employees are satisfied with diversity (81 percent), equity (72 percent), inclusion (78 percent); between 19–38 percent of staff have some levels of dissatisfaction around DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).
  • Fifty-one participants who reported dissatisfaction with diversity are 40 and younger (39 percent), staff of color (44 percent), and LGBTQ (29 percent).

Staff was asked about experiences of discrimination based on age, biological sex, disability, gender identity or expression, language proficiency, military experience/veteran status, nationality/citizenship status, political beliefs, race/ethnicity, religious/spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.

Employees noted that discrimination most often included being deliberately ignored, isolated, or excluded (11 percent), receiving/witnessing derogatory remarks (9 percent) and racial/ethnic profiling (4 percent). Staff who identify as Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, and Other (persons in racial categories with numbers too low to report separately) experienced higher rates of discrimination, while staff identifying as White report lower rates than expected.

Staff members who are 40 years old or younger are more likely than their counterparts to report experiences of age discrimination. Staff of color who participated in the study reported more experiences of race/ethnicity discrimination.

WCG also provided a list of recommendations for the participating agencies and entities to enact:

  • Seek opportunities to improve practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Create additional opportunities for open discussions regarding race-related issues to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Create a “flatter organizational structure” to increase equity among staff.
  • Solicit engagement from lower level staff regarding organizational issues and decisions.
  • Recruit and hire diverse staff who can present different perspectives and expand outreach to nontraditional communities.
  • Recruit staff from a national pool for all positions.
  • Provide “ongoing cultural proficiency, antibias, racial equity training,” and “coaching.”
  • Strengthen the diversity training curriculum and provide professional development to advance individual skills and capabilities for practicing inclusivity.
  • Place agency/entity focus on generational diversity and inclusion.
  • Increase flow of information among staff regardless of job description.
  • Develop a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan to serve as the foundation for intentional programming and activities for each agency/entity.
  • Create an anonymous record of reporting or informing senior leadership of issues related to discrimination based on social identities and general inequitable practices.

“The Washington Consulting Group recommends senior leadership discuss the DEI assessment with managers/supervisors to begin looking for improvement,” said Nelson. “WCG also encourages leadership from each agency and entity to look for ways beyond the assessment to learn about the experiences of marginalized and underrepresented populations to create a greater sense of personal satisfaction with diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

“This report reaffirmed what we’ve been working toward for years, to tear down any barriers that keep people from the love of Christ,” said Nelson. “With the input of our leaders, agencies, entities, and the Diverse Voices Table, we are already making strides to be more inclusive and equitable and we believe we have the foundation, direction, and desire to move this church forward.”

“Confronting deeply ingrained racist systems and structures is a focus of Matthew 25,” said the Reverend Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “We are determined to live into this great mandate that is undergirded by Scripture and central to our ministry.”

Nelson says the church will repeat the audit in several years. The entire report can be found here: