Diversity Inside and Out: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Since 1930, W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has sought to exemplify inclusion by supporting families and helping disadvantaged children.

“We work with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life,” said Dianna L. Langenburg, director of human resources and organizational services for the foundation. “We view our mission through the dual lenses of racial equity and community and civic engagement, and partner with those who embrace these ideals.”

To make its vision a reality, WKKF directs grants and resources to remove systematic barriers that hold some children back— $380 million was invested in new grantmaking commitments in 2012.

“One key metric WKKF uses to measure the impact of its diversity strategy is the percentage of grantees we fund that are minority-serving organizations,” said Deborah A. Green, WKKF’s human resources analyst. “In 2006-07, only 20 percent of our grantees were minority-serving organizations.” In 2010-11, Green said that number jumped to 88 percent.

Langenburg and Green credit the organization’s board of trustees for the increase.

“Our leadership ensures our external grantmaking efforts include a racial equity component/approach and internally encourages our senior leaders within the organization to participate in self-awareness and diversity development opportunities,” Langenburg said.

Although WKKF does not have a separately defined diversity function, it does have an inclusion and equity statement that aims to guide its internal diversity framework.

“Many organizations, ours included, initially focused their internal diversity efforts on counting people,” Green said, “but it is so much more than the demographics. It’s about the experience that staff members have while they are here and how all of our actions influence the work environment, from learning about and celebrating our differences to addressing structural barriers that perpetuate inequities.”

To do this, WKKF posts hiring data publicly on its website alongside its diversity statement. It has methods in place to ensure a diverse candidate pool for each position. It offers staff the opportunity to participate in its Intercultural Development Inventory — the internal tool to assess progress in achieving intercultural competence. It uses a biennial staff perception survey to identify areas for improvement in diversity and offers domestic partner benefits. And it offers coaching and counseling for employees and their supervisors to identify and address the potential for unconscious bias.

Further, racial equity strategies are linked to organizational goals, and all employees are expected to have at least one performance or learning goal related to racial equity.

Langenburg and Green are trying to increase staff awareness with development opportunities. But on the other track, they’re aiming to address structural issues such as organizational policies, benefits and the way they do business.

“We believe in helping people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources, to improve their quality of life and that of future generations,” Langenburg said. “This is a value of the foundation inside and out.”