TransForming from the Inside Out

Jo Ann Prompongsatorn Headshot

2018 TransForm Staff RetreatSocial justice is a core value for TransForm — it is fundamental to our mission and our existence. We use transportation and land use reforms to create a cascade of benefits for social, environmental, and economic justice. We believe transportation policy has enormous potential to catalyze the development of thriving communities for everyone. We also understand that our ability to create positive change in the world together begins with our own actions and behavior — both staff and board.

Over the past eleven years, TransForm has worked to institutionalize key social justice practices in our everyday culture. We are learning and transforming from the inside out as we embed our social justice values into how we work.

Our Board’s Social Justice Committee and staff’s Equity & Inclusion Committee hold the organization accountable to a 36-page internal Social Justice Action Plan. The plan identifies and tracks goals for every program and guides the work of TransForm’s Executive Leadership, Management Team, and Board of Directors. Through our processes for hiring, onboarding, employee-centered human resource initiatives, and commitment to shared leadership — as well as through our external campaigns and initiatives — we seek to meet the goals of our Social Justice Action Plan.

Establishing social justice as a foundation of our organizational culture has been a participatory process that takes time, reflection and collaboration. It has also been challenging, often pushing us out of our comfort zones. From the beginning, our efforts have been driven jointly by our staff and Board of Directors. Here is a short history of our efforts:

  • In 2007, we were experiencing rapid growth while expanding our programmatic work, with several staff members engaging deeply with historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Staff identified an organizational need to reflect on TransForm’s hiring practices and formalize diversity training to strengthen our understanding of how race and privilege factor into a community’s access to mobility and housing.
  • In 2008, TransForm conducted an organizational assessment and created a plan to foster an equitable and inclusive culture. This led to the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion task force, which evolved to what is now our staff’s Equity and Inclusion Committee.
  • In 2009-2010, the Equity and Inclusion Committee identified our hiring practices as the first priority for review and improvement: ensuring that our hiring processes are accessible and inviting to a rich diversity of potential candidates. Since then, we have had an Equity & Inclusion Committee member involved in every hire and made several other improvements to our practices, such as always listing a salary range in job postings.
  • In 2014, the Board of Directors established a Social Justice Task Group with the charge of hiring a consultant to help us create a Social Justice Action Plan. Although the relationship with that consultant did not work out, the staff and board forged ahead. We leveraged our collective knowledge, put our commitments to paper, and created the Social Justice Action Plan. The plan identifies and tracks goals for every team in the organization, including our Executive Team, Management Team, and Board of Directors.
  • In 2016, TransForm made some major changes to our organizational and leadership structure, with two principles of shared leadership in mind: creating pathways to leadership for existing staff, and including more staff in decisions that affect them. Read more about this process and its outcomes in a previous blog post.
  • In the Fall of 2017, the Board of Directors converted the Social Justice Task Group into a formal Board Social Justice Committee.
  • In 2018, each team made in-person reports to the Social Justice Committee on their progress towards their goals in the Social Justice Action Plan.

Today, our staff and board continue striving to advance social justice through every interaction, campaign, internal and external program and work product. We’re proud that our staff and board are more diverse than ever, and we continue to attract top talent from a wide range of backgrounds.

We will share more about our journey of transformation in future blog posts. We plan to release a public version of our Action Plan in 2019, and be open about missteps we have made and difficulties we’ve navigated along the way. This has been years in the making and we are delighted to share our experience, learnings, and work products to contribute to a conversation about making social justice a reality in the workplace as we work to make it a reality in the world.

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About This Blog

TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit TransFormCA.org.