We recognized that our organization lacked a formal commitment to the integration of DEI internally with staff and leadership, and externally with our outward facing programs.
In 2017, we convened a cross-functional Diversity Leadership Team to build and support the organization in seeking and embracing diversity and equity and fostering an environment of inclusion. Within our first 18 months, the DLT developed a team charter to guide our actions and ensure our work was advancing both internal and external activities. We wrote a formal Statement of Commitment to DEI for the organization to adopt in order to provide accountability at all organizational levels, including staff and Board of Directors, and to support our external efforts in addition to our hiring practices. We also hired third parties to conduct employee surveys on DEI-related topics to collect data and metrics to further guide our work and inform opportunities for professional development.
Our DLT has continued to thrive and advance our organization's DEI efforts. In summer 2019, after executive leadership and our Board of Directors reviewed and approved the Statement of Commitment to DEI, we formalized the work by posting it on our website. Doing so ensures extra accountability in maintaining our commitment. Additionally, we conducted outreach to identify community members for a professional development panel for all staff around how we can intentionally improve our work for underserved communities. We've also strengthened our organization's strategic plan to be more supportive of DEI by explicitly integrating underserved school communities and culturally appropriate language across our organizational goals and strategies. Lastly, we developed 14 new community-based roles filled by parents to improve our work on engaging and mobilizing other parents within underserved communities. The parents selected for these roles are 92% female, 17% Spanish speakers, 50% people of color, and 25% from rural communities.
The work of our Diversity Leadership Team is integral to the growth of our organization and the accomplishment of our mission. It's challenging work, but at the end of the day, our entire organization is growing stronger with each action we take. I'm thrilled to bring another nonprofit sector voice to these important efforts through this public pledge.