What We Do
Onward's professional consulting services include organizational strategy, executive coaching programs, learning opportunities, assessments, and tools to support partners in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We also operate an R&D lab, using human-centered design approaches to apply learnings from different sectors, design experiences, build exhibits, and innovate tools, all aimed at dismantling systems of oppression.
One United Endeavor
At Onward, imagination and iteration are core to both consulting and R&D. We practice and encourage design thinking, organized around four core concepts:
Connecting across differences requires empathy. Onward builds bridges through tools like storytelling, virtual reality, and proximity. By helping individuals stand in another’s shoes, we encourage greater self-reflection around bias and meaningful dialogue, sparking change.
Stories are powerful. They allow us to see ourselves and our unconscious biases more clearly. We emphasize storytelling in our work to help our partners better understand who they are, how they relate to others, and how different identities inform diverse experiences.
From equity design cards to virtual reality, our toolkit is as innovative as it is effective, powered by insights and iterations from our R&D lab. We collaborate with our partners to develop tailored curricula and take-home, turnkey products.
Practice and real world application are crucial to skill-based learning. We build our partners’ skills through assessments, goal-setting, context-specific professional learning experiences, and executive coaching, as well as truth and reconciliation work.
Our two initiatives work to inform each other and lead to the design of powerful tools.
Pushing Towards Growth
Change is challenging work. We’re thoughtful about selecting partners who are ready and willing to engage. Together, we push beyond our comfort zones and embark on a uniquely tailored experience, designed to deepen our awareness and expand our capacity to build equitable workplaces.
Learning for Progress
Research & Development
Onward's R&D lab is a testing ground for innovative tools, protocols, and experiences we then share with consulting partners and communities working toward equity. Using the principles of human-centered design, we advance solutions that harness the creativity of innovation and design, the power of storytelling, and the vast reach of technology.
Equity-focused Foundations Work
In addition to building internal capacity, Onward has partnered with foundations and philanthropies to design equity-focused strategies and organizational structures. Our partners include local and national funders, foundations, and thought leaders.
Together, we've resolved entrenched institutional inequities by re-designing hiring practices, reshaping culture, and reframing communications.
Root Cause Analysis
02 Community-Based Organization
In collaboration with a large nonprofit partner, Onward conducted a thorough data audit and discovery process to identify the root causes of organizational inequities. Our insights clarified precise change management needs. As a result, we put forth a comprehensive needs assessment report and offered detailed recommendations for adaptive solutions.
Human-Centered Design Pilots
03 School System Management
Sustainable change often requires fundamentally altering how people work. In one instance, we invited hundreds of employees to prototype interventions aimed at inequitable policies, systems, and structures. Pilots included proximity visits to communities served by the organization, a curriculum for building coalitions, and allocating funds to address intergenerational poverty and dismantle stigma. Such projects build empathy and capacity to design solutions with—not just for—communities served.
Change Management & Leadership
04 Consulting Firm
Onward partners with leadership teams to radically shift organizational cultures. Change management requires balancing both systemic and interpersonal forces. In supporting new CEOs, for instance, we develop their equity lens using 360 leadership assessments to collect data, develop change-management plans with clearly articulated goals and priorities, and deliver individual coaching sessions.
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”Frederick Douglass