OUR COMMITMENT TO DEIB
Within Karp Strategies, we often talk about why we do what we do and how it comes back to our mission: we work to build stronger and resilient communities, economies, and cities in which people can live and thrive. Places in which people can access good jobs, affordable homes, working infrastructure, and live in health. At the heart of these conversations, we come back to who has access to these things and who does not—which brings us to the core of race and inequity in our field and our personal and professional responsibility as consultants, urban planners, economic development planners, and policymakers to understand the history and commit to changing the future.
As an organization, we must do the same thing. Ensuring that we commit ourselves to the practice of DEIB and ensuring it is infused in our DNA internally—allowing us to support our work externally—is an organizational and leadership priority. While Karp Strategies has been working at the heart of inequity and justice since the day we opened up shop; we have not always talked openly about how we address it within our firm. As our organization has grown, we have been excited to see our team’s commitment to and energy for DEIB both within our company and externally.
At Karp Strategies, we are committed to living our mission by building an internal culture focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) practices. We believe fostering diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas is a prerequisite to building a company where everyone can grow and thrive. We acknowledge that as an organization—especially a small and growing one—this work is a daily practice and a life-long commitment, requiring continuous learning, honesty, listening, collaboration, and action. We are sharing a bit of what we are working on here
INCLUSIVE HIRING PRACTICES
At every stage of the hiring process, we aim to utilize inclusive practices, including a keen focus on skills and competency.
We recruit across several platforms, including through community and civic organizations and a wide range of schools, student groups, and alliances. We continue to work on building relationships with career services and student groups in addition to job postings, and whenever possible, make time for informational interviews about our work and the field.
We are working to remove bias from our application process, for example by redacting names, educational institutions, photos, and year of graduation.
Candidates for positions at all levels are evaluated and interviewed by staff at multiple levels of the organization, from Analysts to our leadership team.
MEANINGFUL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
We provide all staff with regular training and professional development, including LifeLabs management and workplace training, as well as in related skills and content areas such as real estate finance, project management, and market analysis.
Team members at all levels of the organization have opportunities to lead Lunch & Learns to share their areas of particular expertise with colleagues. Past subjects include affordable housing programs, presentation skills, contracts, negotiation, how capital planning in NYC works, and more. Graduate student interns often present their academic research and use our team as a practice session for thesis or other upcoming presentations.
We provide funding to team members interested in staying active in the field, upskilling, and achieving professional certifications. Examples include participation in Coro Leadership New York, Urban Design Forum, Urban Land Institute, the Association for a Better New York, the American Planning Association, and Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines.
PERFORMANCE & ADVANCEMENT
We prioritize weekly one-one meetings with managers to encourage open discussion and feedback as a regular practice.
Every team member develops SMART goals for professional development and growth.
Performance reviews incorporate methods shown by research to reduce bias, including tying evaluations to the specific competencies of each role and incorporating 360-degree feedback.
Since 2021, we have worked with Nika White Consulting to assess the organization, provide DEIB-focused learning experiences, and implement inclusive DEIB practices. Based on our initial assessment and team members’ continued feedback, we have updated several company policies and procedures, including formalizing our hybrid work policy, creating feedback opportunities from direct reports to their managers in 1-1s, and developing a more flexible sick/safe leave policy.
We are finalizing our firm’s DEIB Strategic Plan, which will chart longer-term goals and a plan of action to advance DEIB across many aspects of our work. Our DEIB Working Group, composed of team members at all levels of the firm, meets regularly to develop and implement this plan with input and leadership from across the organization.
We have already begun implementing recommendations from the Working Group, including earmarking funds to implement key priorities and to support additional training to include new team members.
We are proud to include people from a wide range of educational, experience, demographic, and racial backgrounds among our staff and leadership. Our leadership team is
people of color