Group of Ford Foundation staff taking a selfie in a meeting room
Two masked women at a table conversing
Woven texture
Wooden blocks

We’re building a more inclusive culture

Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion starts with our people and culture.

By creating a foundation where everyone feels welcome and committing to a work environment that models the change we hope to create in the world, we believe we can become more impactful at tackling society’s biggest challenges.

Improving our policies

A Ford staff member at a kitchen table with her parents and daughter
Pregnant woman looking at a mobile phone with her partner

Supporting families

Our policies support families who need childcare and eldercare. They include a robust family planning benefit, which supports staff who want to expand their families through adoption, IVF, and other means. All of our staff are eligible for this benefit, regardless of sexual orientation.

Fair compensation policies

The lowest pay level in the United States is equivalent to the thriving living wage in New York—ensuring that no employee earns below a thriving living wage. This reflects an effort to bring our internal culture and values into further alignment with our grantmaking, which has included efforts to advance a thriving living wage.

Equity review of merit increases

Since 2015, we have conducted annual equity reviews of merit increases: We look at where staff salaries fall within each grade and review by race, gender, age, tenure, and performance to check for anomalies. If we find any, we make adjustments to bring staff salaries up to where they should be, based on performance and tenure.

Strengthening our culture

We continue to infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the whole foundation, beyond staffing decisions and policies.

Our DEI council consists of colleagues from a range of departments and job levels in New York as well as each of our offices internationally. Together we collaborate and learn, test our assumptions and challenge our thinking, as we work to push ourselves beyond our current frames of mind and forge new kinds of understanding.

We worked together to define the much-used terms “diversity”, “equity”, and “inclusion,” which is helping us be explicit about what these concepts mean in the context of the Ford Foundation—in the work we do, how we do it, and the change we seek in the world.

Refocusing our strategies as we learn

We have also embarked on an ongoing, global DEI audit, with learning results regularly arriving and being shared with staff.

With audits we can gain valuable insights into the state of the foundation's internal culture. Working with the Kaleidoscope Group, one hundred and fifty colleagues were interviewed one-on-one or in focus groups, resulting in the findings.

We learned that our mission serves as a powerful common bond, inspiring unity and pride among our staff. Many of our colleagues appreciate the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds and work together towards our shared mission.

We also know that this work is a journey and we need to do more to ensure our colleagues experience a culture that more consistently aligns with our values and our mission.

We need to address inconsistencies in management approaches. And, we need to foster a shared understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion across Ford. There is also a need for growth at an individual level in order to build a better understanding of how to engage with differences and address biases.

Our internal culture is not insulated from the systemic injustices that exist in the broader society, and our culture impacts how well we do our work.

Chart illustrating three approaches for culture transformation. Individual: Personal growth and reflection. Interpersonal: Fair and inclusive interactions. Institution: Address institutional infrastructure

Our three-year DEI strategy is based on understanding that transformation must happen at three levels:


Change begins at the individual level: personal reflection and willingness to engage with different points of view are essential prerequisites for any meaningful transformation.


We must change how we interact with each other. Every single interaction whether it is between individuals or teams must be respectful.


As an institution, Ford must continue to evolve its policies, practices, and procedures as we learn and grow.