Posted: October 26, 2023

This page contains information about Extension’s DEI Assessment, including background on the project, information on the status of the project, and frequently asked questions. Updates will occur as this project continues to move forward.

Introduction

The Extension DEI Assessment is designed to understand Penn State Extension’s (Extension) practices, policies, and culture around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). All Extension employees are invited to participate in this assessment which includes a survey and focus groups. We hope that the survey responses will be reflective of all ages, gender identities, races and ethnicities, sexualities, abilities, and nationalities. The perspectives and experiences of all Extension employees are important, as everyone plays a role in creating an inclusive environment. Employee participation will provide important information about our current situation that will inform an action plan to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for the entire Extension community.

The survey, focus groups, data analysis, and report development are being conducted by an outside consulting firm, Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI). Participation is entirely voluntary and individual responses are anonymous. Responses will be aggregated and summarized into themes. Findings will be shared so that no comments can be traced back to an individual. The results of the survey will help our organization take action to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion organizationally. Everyone is invited to prioritize areas of action for our response. Below is a chart of steps and timelines for this work.

Report Findings

Strategic Diversity Initiatives shared the findings of the Penn State Extension DEI Baseline Assessment to employees at a Town Hall on June 8, 2023. Here is the report and associated appendix:

Progress chart

This chart is designed to share the process in real time. We encourage you to check it regularly to get updated on the progress of this effort.

Date

Activity/Step

Progress/Comments

Completion

11/7 - 1/11

Establish Design Team Process 

Determine group management model, future meeting format, need for informal meetings or additional debriefings, and the role of leaders

Design team members include Terri Rentzel, Mandel Smith, Malu Tejada, Robin Perry-Smith, Jaime Garcia-Prudencio, Elsa Sánchez, Cristy Schmidt, Adrian Barragan, Dora Boyd Simons, Matthew Crutchman, Patreese Ingram, and Eriks Dunens

      ✅

1/6/23 - 3/6

Assessment Planning and Design

Identification of key subpopulations, project management plan (e.g., logistics, timeline, resources, accessibility, performance indicators), marketing and communications (maximizing participant buy-in, drive participation, strategize for minimizing assessment fatigue)

Design team members worked through these topics and tasks over six meetings and asynchronously in between.

       ✅

3/2

Marketing and Communications Campaign Launch

At the Extension Update on Thursday, March 2, 2023, Strategy and Compliance Specialist Eriks Dunens and Strategic Diversity Initiative's Kaitlin Desselle announced Extension's DEI Assessment.

       ✅

3/9

Soft Launch: Review of DEI Assessment Survey (preliminary and final draft)

A soft launch of the DEI Assessment survey was reviewed by eight additional Extension employees to stress test the survey.

       ✅

3/14

Survey Launch 

All Extension employees were invited to complete a voluntary survey by email.

If you are an Extension employee who would like to complete the survey but did not receive a link, you may contact SDI directly at kaitlin.desselle@strategicdi.com.

       ✅

3/14 - 3/31

Survey data collection + Focus Group data collection

***3/22 Update***

We will be extending the survey collection deadline through March 31 and have added additional focus groups for March 28 and March 29.

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In addition to the survey, Extension's DEI Assessment includes voluntary focus groups:

Wednesday, March 15

1:00 Gen X & Baby Boomer Generations

3:00 Urban Programming Focus

Thursday, March 16

9:00 Newer to Extension (3 years or less)

11:00 General (No supervisors/people leaders)

1:00 Non-Christian religious and belief systems

3:00 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

Friday, March 17

9:00 Individuals with Accessibility Needs (folks with disabilities, accommodation or assistance needs)

11:00 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Plus)

Monday, March 20

1:00 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

3:00 General (No supervisors/people leaders)

Tuesday, March 21

11:00 Urban Programming Focus

1:00 Non-Christian religious and belief systems

3:00 Gen X & Baby Boomer Generations

Wednesday, March 22

11:00 Millennial & Gen Z Generations

1:00 Woman-identifying

3:00 Newer to Extension (3 years or less)

Thursday, March 23

1:00 Individuals with Accessibility Needs (folks with disabilities, accommodation or assistance needs)

3:00 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Plus)

Friday, March 24

11:00 General (open to all)

Monday, March 27

9:00 General (open to all)

12:00 Women-identifying

2:00 Millennial & Gen Z Generations

***NEWLY ADDED AS OF 3/22***

Tuesday, March 28

1:00 Individuals with Accessibility Needs (folks with disabilities, accommodation, or assistance needs)

Wednesday, March 29

1:00 BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color)

3:00 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Plus)

       ✅

3/31 - 5/1

SDI Data Analysis

Only consultants with SDI had access to the raw survey and focus group data to ensure confidentiality of all participants during analysis.

       ✅

5/4

Presentation of initial survey findings and meaning-making with Design Team

SDI presented anonymized findings to the Design Team to better understand context for findings.

       ✅

6/8

Town Hall discussion of findings report

All Extension employees were invited to join this Town Hall via Zoom. SDI presented the findings report and appendix and then took questions and facilitated conversation with attendees. The Town Hall concluded by outlining next steps to move from the recommendations into taking action. The Town Hall was recorded for those unable to attend.

If you would like the link to the recording, please email Strategy and Compliance Specialist Eriks Dunens at eld5417@psu.edu.

       ✅

6/1 - 9/30

Paused for Trust Edge Engagement Survey

 

       ✅

10/17

Town Hall discussion of findings report

All Extension employees were invited to join this Town Hall via Zoom. SDI refreshed attendees on the report findings and appendix as preparation for the Strategy and Action Planning Sessions later that week.

       ✅

10/18 and 10/20

Strategy and Action Planning Sessions

All Extension employees were invited to participate in two sessions focused on prioritizing and developing responses to improve DEI at Penn State Extension.

SDI hosted two four-hour sessions via Zoom. They were designed so that participants could join and depart as needed within the time frame to accommodate people's commitments.

If you would like the link to the recordings, please email Strategy and Compliance Specialist Eriks Dunens at eld5417@psu.edu.

       ✅

10/21 - 11/15

SDI draft DEI plan development

SDI will develop a draft DEI plan based on employee contributions during the Strategy and Action Planning Sessions for an additional round of comments and feedback from Extension employees.

TBD

Draft DEI plan open for employee comments and feedback

Invitation and dates for comment and feedback will be forthcoming.

TBD

Announce and share working DEI plan + Formation of action teams to operationalize plan

Extension employees are invited to join an action team in an area of interest to operationalize and contribute to the DEI plan.

TBD

Action teams begin work

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is the DEI Assessment different from the Trust Edge Engagement Survey?
    ○ The Trust Edge Employee Engagement survey seeks to establish a better understanding of employee morale, satisfaction, and engagement. The DEI Assessment specifically examines our practices, policies, and culture to provide a baseline understanding of where we are organizationally on key diversity, equity, and inclusion measures.
    Additionally, Extension employees will have the opportunity to co-develop a plan and implementation of action steps necessary to move the organization forward, in response to the results of the DEI Assessment.
  • Why is there a break of four months between discussion of the findings report and the development of the action plan?
    ○ In short, so we don’t have two survey efforts operating at the same time. Our DEI Design Team made the decision to pause our process to honor the existing timeline and commitments for the Employee Engagement Survey, which dates to 2019. The DEI Assessment process will resume in October to reshare findings and engage everyone interested in co-developing an action plan around the recommendations.
  • We are asked to participate in so many surveys. What makes this one different?
    ○ Associate Director Katherine Cason, Strategy and Compliance Specialist Eriks Dunens, and Assistant Dean of Multicultural Affairs for the College of Agricultural Sciences Patreese Ingram initiated this DEI Assessment with the support - and funding - of Extension Director Brent Hales. The three believe it essential to invite Extension employees to share stewardship in the development and implementation of the effort. The opportunity for involvement expands further as all Extension employees have a chance to offer their experiences and insights through a survey and focus groups. Every employee is additionally invited to participate in discussing the results and developing an action plan to guide our organizational focus and response. Through this process, we create ownership and accountability for everyone - including leadership - to take the necessary steps to improve our organization.
  • There are many survey questions that could identify me. How is anonymity being maintained?
    ○ We want to be clear that ONLY consultants from Strategic Diversity Initiative see the raw data provided by people who complete the survey. SDI will only report themes when we have a group large enough to ensure anonymity. For instance, an individual unit may not have sufficient men to ensure anonymity at the individual level. SDI will adjust the level of reporting for each theme to ensure anonymity. If you’d like to know more, please reach out to our consultant Kaitlin Desselle at kaitlin.desselle@strategicdi.com
  • I can't make all eight hours across the two Strategy and Action Planning sessions. Should I still attend what I can?
    ○ Yes! SDI understands that people have commitments and have designed the sessions to allow people to enter, participate, and depart as needed. We encourage you to attend all that you are able to make work.

Still have questions about the Extension DEI Assessment? Reach out to Strategy and Compliance Specialist Eriks Dunens at eld5417@psu.edu.