Organizational Change Work

The Pipeline Project's work with organizations to support their improving performance around diversity, equity, and inclusion is largely performed by our consulting arm: Pipeline Consulting.  Pipeline Consulting works with not-for-profits to provide strategic planning, leadership and program development to support organizations and their leaders in improving their performance and success with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  In doing this work, we use an organizational systems-based approach aligned with the mission, value, and ethos of client organizations.
Pipeline believes that diversity is not an end in and of itself, nor is inclusion reached via a one-off or series of organizational retreats, and that equity is a value that must be part of the operational stance of an organization and a value anchor for its leaders.
We believe that equity and inclusion are only achieved through a process of institutional change that serves to define organizational values and ethos and then to align organizational systems with those values and ethos.  And it is only through and after that process that sustainable diversity can be achieved and maintained.  Further our approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion work begins with the following assumptions:
Organizations want to improve their performance in these areas, but because of human, time, and material resources limitations, generally cannot effectively engage in a process leading to that improvement absent an outside change agent providing support, guidance, and accountability.

Poor performance in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion can be a byproduct of organizational systems not functioning optimally, not properly aligned with organizational values and ethos, and/or ill-defined, opaque organizational values and ethos that are often also not effectively put into operation.  The effect of the preceding can result in a lack of common agreement and understanding within and outside of organizations.  And that lack of agreement, understanding and transparency often leads to individual episodes and/or ongoing crises or negative narratives about organizations with respect to race, diversity, and inclusion.

Any organization can look “diverse” at a particular moment in time; the real tests are the depth, breadth, and sustainability of that diversity.  So, at its heart an organization’s performance around diversity, equity, and inclusion is not so much defined by how it “looks,” but by how it “acts.”  Further, an organization that operates well with respect to ”equity” and “inclusion” will often be more diverse in a truly sustainable sense.

Our Tools and Frame for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Work

The framework we use to locate the current state, potential causes, and impacts of less-than-ideal or negative performance and narrative around an organization’s performance around diversity, equity, and inclusion described above is a synthesis of RaceForward’s (formerly the Applied Research Center) Racial Equity Impact Assessment, and Robert Gass’ Assessment for Organizational Transformation the first steps of that synthesis in our practice are as follows:

Generally, we first begin with gathering objective and subjective data from internal stakeholders (staff, Board, and Executive Leadership) to establish a marker of the organization’s extant position that will be used as a baseline.  Ideally, we also prefer to do an external environmental scan to gather parallel information from outside stakeholders.When engaging staffs, teams, and whole organizations, we also utilize supplemental tools such as the Intercultural Development Index (IDI) and Interpersonal Leadership Styles (ILS) to establish baselines, chart roadmaps for improvement, provide a different and lens to view diversity, and offer a neutral language in which t conduct elements of the work.

Further, in order for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to be successful, it’s important that internal stakeholders have an actual “stake” in the eventual recommendations.

Therefore, as part of our data collection efforts, we hone in closely on where staff and board think the most growth needs to happen.  We pair those observations and perspectives with best practices in the field to provide action steps the organization can take for maximum effectiveness.  Additionally, we will assess the capacity of the organization and pair action steps that are in alignment with existing resources and at a pace that is achievable.

In the end, we as diversity, equity, and inclusion consultants are most concerned with providing a plan that will effectively lead organizations toward greater inclusion.  Creating the plan together results in the most effective outcomes.

Further, data – primarily subjective – is gathered from stakeholders to develop an aspirational picture of how stakeholders would define “improvement” or “success.”

Finally, a report with findings, preliminary recommendations and next steps is prepared for presentation to and discussion with the reviewing body within the client.  If determined acceptable, the engagement continues and next steps commenced.

Why We Ask for Engagements Over Time

Because we believe that true organizational and leadership transformation accrue from an engagement over time that allows for observation, coaching, trouble-shooting, and solution-building – essentially imbedding “expert systems” within an organization we would argue that change is achieved through the practical application of real-time solutions in the micro even as broader review, analysis, and implementation of alignments between an organization’s value and ethos and its systems are constructed.

Our Competencies & Team

Collectively, the Pipeline Team possesses over 50 years’ experience working in and with non-profits organizations, spanning a range from community service and advocacy organizations, political advocacy organizations, and health and human service organizations at local, state, and national levels.