Chief of Equity and Culture

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
California, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Oct 07, 2020
Nov 05, 2020
Position Type
Other Fields
Employment Type
Full Time

About the foundation:

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For more than 50 years, we have supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities, and make the philanthropy sector more effective. Our newest program focuses on strengthening U.S. democracy. In addition, we also make grants for special projects and to address other timely problems, such as challenges related to cybersecurity and economic inequality. In 2020 the foundation announced a new grantmaking commitment focused on racial justice.

The foundation is one of the largest philanthropic institutions in the United States, awarding more than $400 million in grants in 2019 to organizations across the globe to help people build better lives. Established through the personal generosity of the Hewlett family, the foundation is wholly independent of the Hewlett Packard Company and the Hewlett Packard Company Foundation.

The foundation is located in the San Francisco Bay area and has approximately 120 employees in programmatic, operational, and investment roles. In all these positions, our employees are challenged with meaningful work, provided resources for ongoing professional development and learning, and contribute to a collegial and engaging environment where they and their colleagues can thrive. We are committed to fostering a culture that promotes the values and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion as one of our guiding principles, and we encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. The foundation offers excellent benefits and competitive salaries.


The Hewlett Foundation embraces the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) both internally, in our hiring process and organizational culture, and externally, in our grantmaking and related practices. We exercise the privilege of having an endowment for grantmaking—for it is a privilege—thoughtfully, mindful of the larger society of which we are part, and of the historical, economic, and cultural forces that shape it. We believe this duty includes a responsibility to recognize that some groups of people are both historically and presently disadvantaged, whether by virtue of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, ability, sexual orientation, ideology, religion, or other characteristics or statuses that reflect significant social categories or fractures.

We have spent the past seven years focusing broadly on improving the foundation’s DEI knowledge, understanding, and practices, and we have made important progress through these efforts: significantly diversifying the staff and board, embedding DEI concerns into our everyday work and culture, and changing our strategies and internal practices as a result. Race has been included in that work, but only as part of the wider effort, and we believe we need to incorporate a more intentional racial justice lens into our operations and grantmaking, because systemic racism is a distinctive phenomenon that is embedded in our society and institutions in ways that are singular and deep.

When we began our DEI work in 2013, we made a self-conscious decision to manage the effort without a dedicated DEI office or officer. We wanted to foster a culture in which everyone at the foundation would see advancing DEI as part of their own job and responsibilities, and in which—alongside whatever foundation-wide efforts we undertook—each team and department would act on its own in whatever ways seemed most necessary or appropriate. While this decentralized approach may have been suitable before, we need to change in order to ensure a shared understanding and approach to our DEI concerns and goals across the entire foundation. The additional activities we’ll undertake to address systemic racism require someone with expertise and experience working on matters of race in organizations. At the same time, we are in no way moving away from our general DEI commitment. The changes in institutional culture and practice we have made through those efforts remain important, as does the need to maintain and expand them even as we tackle this uniquely challenging part of that larger universe.

In taking on this work, we don’t want to reduce ourselves or our partners to labels or turn each other into anything less than the complex, multifaceted individuals we all are. We seek, rather, to develop enough appreciation of difference—enough mutual understanding and cultural sensitivity—that people can raise what matters to them, and we can learn from the enriched dialogue and relationships that result. We value the diverse perspectives our present staff already bring to the foundation’s work, but we are conscious that we have more to do and more to learn. We are committed to looking for ways to better understand and meaningfully address institutional racism in order to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of our work. Doing so will, we believe, improve the outcomes we and our grantees and partners achieve in our work.

About the position:

We now seek a Chief of Equity and Culture, reporting to the President, who will champion, promote, and help shape and implement DEI and racial equity initiatives across the foundation’s operations, including serving as a resource for our grantmaking programs. This person will conduct institutional assessments, build and sustain awareness, set goals and benchmarks, develop and oversee implementation of projects and initiatives, and ensure progress toward those goals. S/he/they will collaborate on creating growth opportunities for leaders and staff focused on DEI objectives, and will oversee employee resource groups. The role will offer opportunities for thought leadership in close partnership with the President, Senior Staff, and team members at all levels of the organization. The Chief of Equity and Culture will be integral to effectively carrying out the work and improving the
culture of the foundation.

The ideal candidate will have a proven ability and experience to lead racial equity and inclusion
initiatives, improve leadership capabilities across an organization, and usefully shift organizational culture to meet DEI goals. Experience working on racial justice and DEI in an international context is desirable. S/he/they will also bring experience engaging in difficult conversations, deeply listening and learning, building collective awareness, examining biases, and striving to ensure that all employees feel respected. Additionally, the Chief of Equity and Culture will bring experience utilizing data for analysis and employing accountability mechanisms to monitor DEI. This individual will be an influencer, a thought leader, and an agent of change, and will have a passion for the mission of the Hewlett Foundation.


• Evaluate and build upon Hewlett’s existing DEI strategy and prior efforts to create a more
equitable and inclusive workplace that attracts and retains diverse people and teams.
• Engage with foundation staff at all levels to develop DEI and racial equity strategies and goals and implement them in ways responsive to the challenges and opportunities within each
program and department. As each department has its own set of goals, collaborate with all
departments to create a shared set of DEI goals, initiatives and, where appropriate, metrics that can be employed foundation wide.
• Enhance opportunities across the foundation for improved relationships and collaboration
among people and teams that are characterized by respect, transparency, and accountability.
• Ensure open and clear channels of communication, employ transparent decision making and
foster accountability at all levels of the foundation.
• Investigate how best to establish and support Employee Resource Groups, ensuring their
impact and effectiveness across the organization.
• Measure the impact of DEI programs and initiatives using data-driven practices to generate
insights and ensure effectiveness of efforts.
• Work with the foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group to influence the philanthropic field to
promote racial equity.
• Serve as a public spokesperson, representing the foundation to stakeholders, including
grantees, partners, the broader philanthropic community, and media, locally and globally;
actively share the foundation’s history, best practices, and DEI lessons learned through
participation in meetings, conferences, seminars, etc.

Ideal experience and qualifications:

• Passion for the foundation’s mission and a demonstrated commitment to promoting a
better world.
• At least 10 years of DEI experience in roles of progressively increasing scope, ideally with
some experience gained in a philanthropic or nonprofit organization. International
experience is desirable.
• Successful experience leading organizational transformations using a systems approach.
• Substantial project management experience, with the ability to develop and implement
change strategies in partnership with senior leadership and across departments.
• Strong executive presence, including the ability to develop communications and frame
issues for expert and lay audiences alike.
• Proven successful experience working in a variety of contexts and communities with the
ability to interact authentically, thoughtfully, and appropriately with a wide array of people;
cross-cultural competence; a strong track record of working across the lines of race, gender,
ability, class, and culture, as well as other differences.
• An outstanding track record as a collaborative, facilitative leader of diverse teams who
values respect, care, and empathy.
• Excellent communication skills, especially active, deep listening, with experience in
facilitation and presentation. Able to productively engage and influence people at all levels
within an organization.
• Skilled at navigating and decoding complex organizational and ecosystem dynamics,
including the ability to influence and partner with all levels of the organization.
• Credibility and experience to connect the foundation to external thought partners who can
share insights on leading-edge DEI practices.
• Data oriented, skilled at leveraging data for analysis and to inform decision making.
• Curious and creative; confident and humble, with a high degree of emotional intelligence
and empathy; comfortable with complexity and ambiguity.
• High integrity, with respect for professional and personal boundaries and the ability to
maintain strict confidentiality.
• A bachelor’s degree is required. An advanced degree in a relevant field is preferred.

Physical demands/work environment:

The physical demands described below are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this position, the employee is regularly required to sit for extended periods of time and to lift files and books used for research.

To apply:

Please send a substantive cover letter describing your interest and fit with the qualifications of the position along with a current resume to:

Lauren I. Gumbs
Senior Partner, Gumbs + Partners



The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to economic, social, and racial justice. The foundation is firmly committed to complying with all federal, state, and local equal employment opportunity (“EEO”) laws and strictly prohibits discrimination against any employee or applicant for employment because of the individual’s race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, height and/or weight, disability, gender identity or expression, marital or partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, military status, and any other characteristic protected by law. People of color, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and members of other historically disenfranchised groups are strongly encouraged to apply.