Graphic with blue background. Text reads: Toolkit - Starting & Sustaining a DEI Committee.

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Purpose and Goals

There is a campus-wide need for departments to better understand and address the needs of minoritized students. At the University of Washington, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, trans, queer, disabled, and other minority UW students and Postdocs are not adequately supported, as demonstrated by recent UW-UAW equity surveys. To address these and other similar issues, many departments/colleges have begun or revived existing Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI) committees. Unfortunately, DEI committees lacking a clear direction have often been ineffective, exhausting, or even actively harmful. This is particularly true if the committee isn’t invested in restructuring power, identifying ways to engage the entire department, and ultimately, altering the status quo.

Our Anti-Discrimination Working Group developed this Toolkit on Starting and Sustaining a DEI Committee as a way to provide concepts and tools for enacting that change. It gives suggestions for developing a strategic plan, understanding power and empowerment, and developing action plans that are effective, transparent, and sustainable. It is not meant as a comprehensive or one-size-fits all solution, but as a way to generate sharper analysis, new ideas, and more widespread participation.

Who is the toolkit for?

This toolkit is for students, postdocs, staff, faculty, and other department stakeholders who want to form effective DEI committees, or who want to improve existing DEI efforts within their departments. 

How was the toolkit developed?

Beginning in Spring 2020, members of the UAW 4121 Anti-Discrimination Working Group identified common problems found within departments at UW through surveying and informal conversations with other students and Postdocs in departments across UW. We conducted research into best practices identified by other institutions, research groups, existing committees at UW, as well as literature on DEI work, prevention, institutional change, and more. We additionally drew from annual equity surveys developed and implemented jointly between UW and UAW 4121 and housed under the UW-UAW Empowering Prevention and Inclusive Communities program. Working in continued conversation with DEI committee members in departments across UW, we then synthesized this information into a series of suggestions and guiding conversations for improving the effectiveness in DEI committees. The toolkit is intended to be a collaborative and living document and will be updated as our research and engagement continue.

How can I give feedback on the toolkit or get support implementing it?

Any UW community member with questions or feedback can get in touch by emailing

How can UAW 4121 members get more involved?

Beginning Fall 2021, the Anti-Discrimination Working Group will be building up additional next steps, outreach, and organizing around the toolkit. UAW 4121 members are encouraged to get involved by emailing