KQED Staff Portrait

KQED Diversity, Equity & InclusionKQED Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

KQED’s Commitment to DEI

Michael Isip, KQED President and CEO

KQED’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is unwavering. DEI is central to how we serve the public and how we operate. We believe that the better we reflect our communities through our staff, programs, events and partnerships, and the stronger our work culture, the better we serve the Bay Area.

We’re pleased to share our annual DEI report, which summarizes data collected and actions taken. The report also reflects both the tangible progress we’ve made in addressing our DEI work and the areas where we need to improve. Metrics are essential to track our efforts; they hold us accountable and ensure we’re meeting our goals. This year, in addition to collecting data, we’ve also dedicated more time and resources to integrating DEI into every aspect of our service and operations.

We’re building a DEI infrastructure with staff input and participation, more inclusive practices and processes and dedicated resources. Our long-term roadmap is based on staff surveys and focus groups that identified the root causes of our issues. Three priorities emerged: the need to build trust, develop leadership and better communicate.

Also, we’re learning that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to advancing our DEI work internally. Teams in Content, Audience and Revenue, Administration, Operations and Product have developed customized plans to achieve specific outcomes and observable behaviors. These plans range from inclusive decision-making and language to behavior toolkits and staff recognition.

One of the most important developments this year was hiring KQED’s Chief DEI Officer Eric Abrams. As a member of the Executive Management Team, Eric is leading long-term planning and strategy to operationalize and embed DEI principles into our work. He’s also advising departments on implementing projects and setting goals and benchmarks. Additionally, Eric is partnering closely with Human Resources to ensure diverse representation and professional development for staff. He’s also engaging with key stakeholder groups, such as KQED’s DEI Council and Employee Resource groups, as well as key external stakeholders, including our board’s Diversity Task Force and KQED’s Community Advisory Panel.

We know that we have a lot of work to do. Our commitment is ongoing and steadfast because DEI is not just something we do at KQED; it’s part of who we are and what we stand for. As we move forward, we’re dedicated to remaining transparent, making meaningful change and consistently taking steps toward our DEI vision of a culture that centers on human dignity, equity and belonging. — Michael J. Isip, President and CEO

Eric Abrams, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

I’ve been at KQED for seven months. After spending decades in higher education, joining a public media organization brings some changes, but there’s one important commonality: Both types of organizations are passionate about providing truthful information to people who seek it.

I’ve learned a lot since I started working at KQED. I’m tremendously excited by the deep curiosity and strong appetite for learning shared by my colleagues. Our 2023 Inclusion and Engagement Survey provides valuable data and context that informs our efforts. Reviewing the results enables us to assess staff engagement and shows what we’re getting right and where we need to be better, to come together as an organization and to develop strategic solutions to address our shortfalls.

The most recent staff survey reveals progress in addressing diversity, fairness, voice and belonging for staff since the 2021 survey. However, the survey also underscores the need to build more trust between staff and leadership. Our Executive Management Team sees this as a top priority for the coming year. We look forward to developing ways to improve that trust in partnership with staff and our distributed leadership groups, which include the People, Process, Leadership and Infrastructure Group (PPILG) and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.

Our 2023 engagement survey did show some promising results:  We improved in each of the DEI focus areas. However, as we examine benchmarking data against other similarly sized nonprofits in North America, we see that we still lag behind other organizations. In the coming year, we’ll work with departments to target specific areas for improvement, which we’ll then measure early in the 2025 fiscal year.

Much of my approach is on addressing gaps and opportunities indicated by the survey data and prioritizing the issues that matter most to our staff. I’ll work closely with our DEI Council to develop strategies and tactics to implement needed change. This important group includes representatives from throughout the organization; they are a conduit between staff and leadership. The last year has seen the formalization of their charter, and I’ve found their ideas and perspectives to be very helpful.

To support diversity in leadership, we created a professional development initiative called Leadership Through Diversity for managers from underrepresented ethnic groups. I also worked with our HR team to embed a DEI component into our new employee onboarding program. And, each department and division has embarked on creating DEI plans that are tailored to their specific needs. (See the DEI Actions By Division section at the end of this report for more details.)

To build out our DEI office, we’ve created a new DEI Project Manager position. Candace Rucker brings experience in DEI communications at Salesforce and the VSC public relations firm, and her experience and skills will enable her to take a lead role in revitalizing our Employee Resource groups and Affinity groups and in working on other DEI projects. Candace will also collaborate closely with our Community Advisory Panel.

Finally, in early 2024 we’ll develop a voluntary DEI curriculum for staff based on the book Do the Work by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz.

I’m so happy to be part of the team bringing important cultural change to KQED. While this work isn’t quick or easy, it’s critical and rewarding. — Eric Abrams, Chief DEI Officer

Staff Survey Results Measure Progress Toward Our DEI Vision

KQED envisions a public media organization with a culture that centers on human dignity, equity and belonging. This will enable us to better serve and reflect the Bay Area through diverse and inclusive storytelling. KQED will do this by:

  • Creating equitable policies that strengthen trust.
  • Pursuing excellence without the toxicity of perfectionism.
  • Setting reasonable timelines and goals that are aligned across departments.
  • Communicating clearly and consistently.
  • Applying best practices for inclusive and effective decision-making.
  • Engaging in respectful conflict and building bridges across differences.
  • Creating an environment both within KQED and the greater Bay Area where everyone feels respected, valued and heard.

This is the vision we established in 2022; it informs our priorities and how we measure the success of our efforts.

KQED anonymously surveys its staff regularly to measure our progress toward our DEI goals. In June 2023, we conducted our third Inclusion and Engagement survey. A total of 81% of regular and limited-term* staff participated in the survey. While the survey measured important aspects of KQED’s culture — including communication, recognition and decision-making — a portion of it focused on our DEI progress with questions grouped thematically into diversity, fairness, voice and belonging factors, which are defined below:

Diversity: KQED’s belief and commitment to diversity resulting in staff feeling safe to share their unique backgrounds.

Fairness (Equity): KQED’s equitable distribution of resources (compensation and information) and consequences (performance reviews and administrative tasks).

Voice: KQED’s culture of open communication where employees feel they can speak up and be heard.

Belonging: KQED’s culture of acceptance, inclusion and identity resulting in a sense of acceptance, inclusion and identity for members of a marginalized group.

*Limited-term employees are employees hired for a specific assignment; they’re not on call.

We are pleased that our results improved from the 2020 and 2021 surveys for all DEI questions.

The score percentage is a reflection of the portion of staff who agreed with the DEI statements in the survey. For example, this statement was part of the survey: “I can be my authentic self at work” and is grouped under the belonging factor. In the 2023 survey, 72% of respondents agreed with this statement; in 2021, 65% of staff agreed with the same statement.

While we’re pleased that our scores are on an upward trajectory, overall our staff’s responses are 6 to 12% lower than results reported by employees at nonprofit and creative/media companies globally.

Additionally, we see differences in reported experiences based on the department or division in which an employee works. In our 2021 survey, we saw similar results. This was a key driver for our decision to customize our DEI action plans by division. We understand that one-size-fits-all solutions are not always equitable due to departmental- and division-level circumstances and how people self-identify.

We have also analyzed our 2023 survey results to determine where employees are having disparate experiences. Ownership for taking action in response to survey feedback has been distributed across the organization. We are currently holding listening sessions to better understand the specific issues and opportunities for change and action. This additional information will inform the DEI and engagement initiatives already planned for FY24 and may also highlight the need for additional efforts. The 2023 Inclusion and Engagement Survey was conducted eighteen months after our prior survey; we’ve found this to be good pacing. It gives us time to understand our results, generate and implement action items then measure progress.

Representing Our Community

KQED seeks to reflect the Bay Area with intentional hiring goals and efforts, and by creating a culture of dignity, equity and belonging. We believe that reflecting our community supports more diverse and inclusive storytelling and makes KQED’s content more inclusive, participatory and community powered.

Intentional Hiring Goals and Efforts

KQED engages in outreach to attract employees who reflect the diversity of the Bay Area. Our hiring goals over the past several years have focused on increasing Latinx and Black representation in our leadership and through the entire organization to better represent the Bay Area. KQED engages in the initiatives described below to accomplish these goals:

  • Last year, station staff attended ten career fairs at local schools, including high schools, community colleges and California state universities.
  • For all job openings, KQED seeks to interview a diverse slate of candidates through broad outreach and networking. For a more detailed description of KQED’s efforts to reach a diverse candidate pool, please see our EEO Public File Report for 2023 (PDF).
  • At the application stage, KQED asks all job candidates to explain how they’ll contribute to the organization’s DEI efforts if hired.
  • To encourage diverse applicants, all job postings contain this language: “We value the contributions of marginalized people in society — including Black, Indigenous, and all people of color, people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ people — and we believe that these communities must be centered in the work we do, and we strongly encourage members of these communities to apply.”

The commitment and efforts of Human Resources and our hiring managers to better represent the Bay Area were effective in FY23: 67.4% of all regular and limited-term hires were people of color; 67.4% of our hires for the same period identify as female or nonbinary. The chart below provides specifics.

Note: The graph above reflects KQED’s staff race and ethnic representation in the context of the broad demographic categories recognized by the federal government. While KQED also offers more nuanced categories for staff to select race and ethnic identity, demographic trends from year to year are more evident when organized in the larger federally mandated categories.

Staff Demographics

The success of our hiring efforts impacted our overall demographic makeup. KQED increased the number of staff who identify as Latinx by close to 3% and increased the representation of all racially minoritized groups by 3.6%. In addition, 59% of KQED staff identify as female and .8% identify as nonbinary.

Limited-term employees are employees hired for a specific assignment; they’re not on call.

KQED Staff, the Bay Area Market and Audiences

Below is how our staff compares to the nine-county Bay Area demographics from the U.S. census and to the Bay Area market and KQED’s actual audience. We’re pleased with our progress representing our diverse communities.

Chart comparing KQED Staff to Bay Area audience by race

Note: The Market and Audience surveys (Neilsen Scarborough) attribute race fractionally. The U.S. census and KQED offer a “Two or More Races” option per federal EEO requirements. For Neilsen Scarborough, the “Other Race” category includes Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.

The chart below depicts our progress over time.

Retaining Our Talent

Retaining the talent that we take great care to recruit starts with employee onboarding. In 2023, our Human Resources team created a more deeply engaging onboarding experience to help new hires understand and connect with KQED’s DEI values and culture. Managers and recently hired staff helped to create and shape the new program. In addition, Human Resources added capacity and restructured last year. HR generalists now work closely with their assigned client groups creating a single point of contact within the HR department and a more seamless experience for all staff.

A portrait of KQED's Human Resources team seated shoulder to shoulder inside the lobby of KQED. From left to right, the image features Gabriel-John Ching, HR Generalist (Talent Acquisition); Adrianne Cabanatuan, Executive Director, Human Resources; Annette Spear-Jenkins, Human Resources Generalist; and Delano Garner, Organizational Talent Leader.
KQED’s Human Resources Department. (L to R) Gabriel-John Ching, HR Generalist (Talent Acquisition); Adrianne Cabanatuan, Executive Director, Human Resources; Annette Spear-Jenkins, Human Resources Generalist; and Delano Garner, Organizational Talent Leader. (Peter Cavagnaro)

Like many other employers in 2022 (and as highlighted in last year’s report), KQED experienced an increase in resignations among staff of color and women, who left the organization at higher rates than others, based on the overall population. Over the past 12 months, our employee retention has improved to pre-“Great Resignation” levels with only 25 voluntary departures. A total of 59% of people who resigned were women. Since our staff is 59% female this statistic makes sense.

We are particularly pleased to see an improvement in retention of staff of color. Comparison of exit survey results from the past year (8/22 through 8/23) versus the prior period (8/21 through 8/22) showed improvement in departing staff of color’s engagement level and perception of career development opportunities at KQED. However, for both time periods,  minoritized employees left for the same top two reasons (job growth and career opportunities) and 80% of departing employees of color for both time periods would consider returning to KQED in the future.


Despite long-term efforts to recruit, retain and promote staff of color, diverse staff remain underrepresented in KQED’s 116 leadership roles* at 33.6%. In the past 12 months, there were 13 open positions in leadership roles; 63% of employment offers for these roles went to persons of color. KQED leadership is currently 53% female-identifying.

*In this context, KQED job levels 4-8, which includes managers; directors; senior editors and producers; executive directors; vice presidents and C-level employees.

Promotions and Leadership Development

An important way to increase representation in leadership is through employee development and promotions. In 2023, we launched a New Manager Training program to give new leaders the skills necessary to lead their teams in our rapidly changing work environment. This program complemented the existing Experienced Leaders, Emerging Leaders, and Developing Leaders programs, which focus on building leadership skills at all levels and on preparing individuals who have shown an interest in leadership for future opportunities. The program we developed includes classroom training, independent work and on-the-job learning. Our Leading Through Diversity workshop series for managers from racially minoritized groups was created to retain and support advancement of the leaders who participate.

With continued focus on creating more transparency about promotional opportunities, the number of promotions at KQED over the past year increased by 23% to 75. Interns moving into staff roles as well as on-call or temporary employees moving into regular roles are counted as promotions; 56% of promotions went to staff of color and 63% went to women. Importantly, promotions were spread across the organization.

KQED job levels 1-3 include entry-level roles through frontline supervisor positions. Levels 4-8 include managers; directors; senior editors and producers; executive directors; vice presidents and C-level employees. Union indicates a promotion (other than a contract step increase) that went to our union colleagues.


KQED’s paid six-month internship program is designed for students, graduate students and anyone looking to gain experience in the public media field. We approach our program as a building pipeline of diverse talent for public media. Interns gain experience within the media environment while enhancing their skills and/or education inside the classrooms. Preselected staff members serve as mentors for the interns. KQED conducts an ongoing internship program.

This past year, KQED had eleven types of internships each term throughout various departments; 38 interns were selected for the program; 79% of our interns identify as persons of color and 66% identify as female.

KQED also participates in two internship programs from San Francisco State University. The Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund Internship program focuses on furthering diversity in journalism and promoting diverse voices in journalism over the course of the internship. The Science News Photojournalism internship also prioritizes opportunities for underserved students. Finally, KQED hosts an Achieve Global Intern each year. Achieve Global is an organization that focuses on career-exploration opportunities for Bay Area high school students from low-income families.

KQED Live: Building Connections with Diverse Communities

Ryan Davis, Executive Director, KQED Live

KQED Live is grounded in the principle that communal experiences, and the empathy and common understanding they generate, are critical to the health of a plural democracy and are achieved at the local community level. Consequently, our programming leverages our public media platform as an asset for the common good to create and promote spaces in which the uniquely diverse Bay Area communities can convey their own experiences, values and mutual concerns.

To achieve this, KQED Live produces events — 56 from August 1, 2022 through July 31, 2023 — that address a variety of subjects in an array of formats that are capacious enough to include culturally distinct interests and expressive modes. They included conversations with local culture shapers such as musician and filmmaker Boots Riley, who also headlined KQED Fest, our inaugural open house and community celebration; and writer Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, who talked about her novel, which depicts the vibrant musical legacy of San Francisco’s historically Black Fillmore district before redevelopment displaced its longtime residents. We also presented performances, such as the KQED Fest concert headliners La Doña and Lyrics Born and the Rightnowish Comedy Night showcasing Oakland-based comedians of color and the Filipinx Arts Night, which gathered artists from San Francisco’s young Filipino music and spoken-word scenes. In addition, we offered contextualized and embodied experiences, such as workshops in hyperlocal hip-hop dance styles and a community altar-making workshop for Día de los Muertos; and food tastings such as Eating Taiwanese in the Bay and Hella Caffeinated con Pan that illuminated the deep cultural connections behind local cuisine.

Program curation is driven internally by a collective decision-making process. All KQED Live team members participate in the proposal, development and advance of events while referencing an agreed-upon assessment rubric. External curation is also part of the process and is done through extensive community partnerships. More than 60% of all events to date were created with the involvement of local nonprofit organizations, many representing the collective interests of specific historically minoritized communities.

Frequently, these programs take the form of storytelling and performance showcases that feature local community members and artists. During the time period noted, partners such as the Asian American Journalists Association; Carnaval San Francisco; the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District; the West Coast Blues Society; Balay Kreative; the Center for Asian American Media; and the nonbinary performance festival THEYFRIEND have collaboratively designed programs that center on the communities they represent.

Beyond dedicated programs that explicitly serve individual groups, the KQED Live programming team prioritizes sourcing program guests from underrepresented communities across all program subject areas and formats. Specifically, the KQED Live team’s top DEI priorities have focused on addressing the underrepresentation of audiences who identify as Latinx (6% of audience versus 24% of population) and AAPI (9% of audience versus 28% of the population). To more closely reflect Bay Area demographics, we aim to increase their respective audience shares at our events to 9% (Latinx) and to 18.5% (AAPI) in FY23. Our primary team tactic for the year has been to make KQED Live programming more representative of the Bay Area with five specific objectives:

  1. Maintain at least 24% Latinx sources.
  2. Increase the representation of AAPI sources to 28% of programming.
  3. Partner with at least four community organizations per producer.
  4. Produce at least one event outside of San Francisco each quarter.
  5. Institute a quarterly open call for any KQED staff member to submit event program ideas to broaden potential programming beyond the direct team’s limited scope.

The data below about our program and audiences reveal that KQED Live is on track to slightly exceed these audience targets, but we’re achieving our target AAPI representation among our audience despite falling short of our target among program guests (17% of program versus 28% of population). And although our Black or African American program guests over-index substantially against the Bay Area population, the audience share remains even. Overall, the data show that KQED Live’s audiences skew younger and more racially diverse than KQED’s audience with pluralities of nearly 40% under age 45 and 47% identifying as people of color or not exclusively white.

  • Total number of individual events (August 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023): 56
  • Number of events explicitly centering representation of and/or service to a specific historically marginalized community:
    • 16 events (29%) for Latinx or bilingual Spanish-speaking communities
    • 14 events (25%) for Black or African American communities
    • 9 events (16%) for LGBTQIA+ communities
    • 6 events (11%) for AAPI communities
  • Approximately 72% of event program guests were people of color (304 out of 421 individuals)

1Per Bay Area Equity Atlas

Audience (FY23 to Date)

KQED Live recorded 15,174 total registrations (individual orders of one or more tickets). Registrants responded to a demographics questionnaire regarding race, gender and age. (Responses reflect only the individual registering and not other members of their attending party.)

In FY24, KQED Live will aim to increase Latinx audiences to 12% (in alignment with KQED’s larger Latinx audience growth initiative) and AAPI audiences to at least 21%. Additionally, efforts will focus on continuing to improve the implementation of our source-tracking methodology; improving disability access by providing more digital access to programs and explicitly providing ASL interpreter services; the addition of assistive listening devices at select events; and pursuing gender-inclusive signage for The Commons restrooms for a more welcoming environment at events that serve LGBTQIA+ communities.

Source Data Tracking

Ki Sung, Managing Editor, KQED News

Local news and storytelling are central to what we do at KQED. We aim to center diverse and underrepresented voices to provide a complete look at issues we face in the Bay Area. With this goal in mind, and since 2021, KQED has been capturing data about the sources our audiences see and hear in the journalism we make. Several news organizations, including our own, have had retrospective audits of their sources, revealing disparities in representation by gender and race/ethnicities of the sources that appear in the news compared to the regions they serve.

Looking forward, KQED’s source-tracking approach has two important elements: making source-data collection a requirement of every journalist and determining the process by which that information is collected. The process of collecting information is important because many organizations allow journalists to email sources about their demographic data, leading to spotty and low completion rates of those surveys. KQED journalists collect the information while speaking to the source, which we believe helps our journalists build cultural competencies and helps us achieve a more accurate snapshot of who appears in our stories. Sources always have the option of declining to give information, and there will be times when we can’t capture that data, but journalists must indicate that in the form.

After two years of source-tracking work, the most challenging part of the process was ensuring that our colleagues are vigilant about integrating source tracking into their workflow. It takes about 30 seconds to ask sources three questions about pronouns, age and race/ethnicity and additional time to file the trackers. We continually remind our newsroom staff about completing source-tracking work so that it will become a habitual part of their work. As a result, in our second year of proactive source-tracking work, the newsroom has made improvements. In FY22, we finished the year with 5,572 source trackers completed by our journalists. In FY23, we expect to have a slightly higher number, which indicates year-over-year consistency.

Once FY23 source-tracking work comes to a close and we can see year-over-year data, we will look more closely at the demographic data of our sources to see how we over- or under-index for people from communities we aim to serve. Because of our approach — that data collection is mandatory and must be collected by journalists — we feel we’ll have an accurate data set from which to make decisions moving forward. There are other newsrooms that have difficulty enforcing this work and rely on sources voluntarily responding to emails to offer up this data. Every newsroom is different — but we feel confident about having an accurate data set from which we can see how our sources compare to local, statewide and national demographics, where relevant. This information can serve as a guide for coverage decisions on a daily and longer-term basis.

DEI Actions By Division

During this year, each of our divisions completed DEI action plans that meet their specific needs:

    • The Audience and Revenue team is focusing on building trust by involving staff more closely in the decision-making process and by improving communication around decisions. Also, the team has piloted an inclusive decision-making framework and has created and used a template to communicate decisions.
    • The Operations and Administration teams are focusing on communication; their plans include encouraging managers to solicit feedback more regularly and to use active listening techniques. This group is also looking closely at how often these behind-the-scene team members are recognized.
    • The Content team is equipping its members with the skills needed to have greater cultural humility and to advance DEI on their teams and in KQED’s content. The team’s Content Inclusive Behavior Toolkit identifies and establishes inclusive behaviors. In addition, the team is engaging in a series of small group conversations with the Chief DEI Officer as part of a deeper dive into the toolkit.
    • The Product team has redesigned their meetings to allow for greater participation and for sharing honest opinions. They’ve hosted workshops focused on building trust internally and have also worked to foster a greater sense of belonging among team members.

Beyond these efforts, we’ve embarked on an organization-wide plan to improve professional development opportunities. Early feedback for our Leading Through Diversity pilot program for managers from racially minoritized groups has been positive. We look forward to rolling it out to other staff members in FY24.

Building on Our DEI Foundation

Our mission to inform, inspire and involve requires that we provide people with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions; convene community dialogue; bring the arts to everyone; and engage audiences to share their stories. To do so requires a commitment to creating a work environment that celebrates our differences and our commonalities while ensuring that we’re constantly growing in our understanding of the communities we serve.

We’re fortunate to live and work in one of the most diverse and dynamic areas of the world, and it’s crucial that we reflect and amplify voices that highlight that dynamism and diversity. While we’ve made significant progress in further diversifying our staff and leadership in recent years, much work remains. In the coming years, we look forward to continuing the challenging work that will allow all members of our team and communities to be heard, respected and valued.

Please note: You may see inconsistent use of terms in some places (for example, Hispanic versus Latinx) in the above report. In most cases, we’ve used language that we feel best represents our audiences, but some language reflects the categories recognized by the federal government or those recognized by a specific tracking platform.

You can find our 2022 DEI Impact Plan and Report here.