At the beginning of 2019, the Brigade Network embarked on our first-ever Brigade census to gather demographic data to establish a benchmark for the diversity of the Brigade Network. We deployed the census in the first quarter of 2019 and over 1,000 people responded in the first three months. Our analysis resulted in a few takeaways:
- In 2019, our Network was 37% people of color. The racial diversity of our Brigade Network was roughly on par with that of the population of the country as a whole.
- 27% of our Network did not work in tech at the time, representing more than one quarter of our Network. The fact that a significant portion of our Network works in other fields represents a diversity of industry that adds strength to the talents and capabilities represented in our ranks.
- At the time of the census, 37% of our Network were over 40 years old. Statistics show that the tech field often skews towards a younger demographic. This showed us that our Network is more inclusive of people of all ages relative to the industry.
While our analysis showed that the Network was diverse in race, skills, and age, it also showed areas that needed serious work:
- We significantly lacked representation from underrepresented groups in tech such as Black, Latinx, and Indigenous folks
- Our gender representation heavily skewed male
- Our income statistics showed vast overrepresentation of higher incomes
Because of these findings, we focused on three main goals for ourselves: Increasing Racial Diversity, Increasing Gender Diversity and Increasing Income Diversity within our Network.
To take action, we outlined a path forward for reaching the above goals (it should be noted that many of the strategies we employed were focused on increasing racial and gender diversity). Below are the strategies we committed to using, and the successes we had over the last two years executing them:
Create concrete goals and action plans behind said goals to make progress
- We set a goal to increase our racial diversity in our National Advisory Council (NAC), and increased our racial and gender representation with a NAC that is now 33% BIPOC, and 66% women/non-binary.
Provide resources to Brigade leaders for intentional recruitment and ways to foster a welcoming environment for all community members to participate
- At each of our in-person trainings and events, we recruited guest speakers to address the conference at large and provide resources to help Brigade leaders increase diversity within local Brigades
- We invited Brigade leaders to join the Racial Privilege Accountability and Learning cohort started in 2020 led by Code for America’s DEI Committee
- We shared these anti-racism, accountability, and support resources with the Network as part of the racial reckoning that came to prominence in the summer of 2020
- The Colors of America group was created to foster community among Brigade members who identify as people of color through regular meetings and a dedicated Slack channel
- As part of our Rapid Response Priority Action Area in 2020, Local Transparency, Accountability, and the Fight for Racial Justice project canvasses were created to help Brigades be a part of further racial justice initiatives in their communities
Ensuring a diverse presence at our in-person events (such as Code for America Summit and Brigade Congress) to foster a diverse and inclusive environment when we meet on a national stage, in addition to the presence we have in our communities
- At 2019 Brigade Congress (our only in-person event we’ve been able to hold since the release of our 2019 Brigade Census results), we increased our racial diversity to 50% of attendees that identified as non-white, a 25% increase from 2018
We reviewed data collected through the Brigade Census since its initial deployment in 2019 to measure our progress and identify areas that need continued growth. Our review revealed:
Age skewed younger, it appears that there are slightly more people in our Network who are under 40 than there were in 2019.
Census Respondents by Age
There are significantly more women and non-binary/third gender folks than in 2019.
Census Respondents by GEnder
There is a slight increase in folks in a lower income bracket than in 2019.
Census Respondents by income
There is an increase in folks that identify as BIPOC.
Census Respondents by Race/Ethnicity
Given these results, and our commitment to continuing this work to strengthen our Network, we’ve identified three areas that we will focus our efforts over in 2021 and 2022, as well as strategies to execute these focus areas and continue to work towards our goals.
- Partner with organizations serving BIPOC individuals and women and non-binary folks in tech. If you have connections to any organizations, or suggestions on who we can work with, please let us know!
- Enable Brigade leaders and members to table and present at conferences that serve underrepresented individuals.
- Support underrepresented individuals to attend our national events (Summit, National Day of Civic Hacking, Brigade Congress) through digital marketing, promotion, direct outreach, and financial support.
- Provide training resources for Brigade leaders on DEI, including but not limited to encouraging folks to join Code for America’s the Racial Privilege Accountability and Learning cohort.
Create opportunities for community and increase retention
- We will continue to hold Colors of America meetings and experiment with meeting formats that increase connection and reach wider audiences.
- Project focus: Highlight projects that serve communities we are looking to build membership from.
We fully embrace that this journey will never be complete, and that equity, fairness, and justice are never stagnant or fully achieved. We know creating a diverse and inclusive Network is an ongoing journey and we are committed to doing the work to make our Network stronger and build diverse teams of volunteers doing important work in our communities.