Starting Points for Equity
We are only half-way through 2020 and this year has already been packed full of challenges for people around the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic caused our “normal” lives to come to a screeching halt with stay-at-home orders and the closures of businesses, restaurants, and events across our communities. During the height of the pandemic, a string of incidents occurred that brought the issues of injustice and discrimination boiling to the surface. This has created additional layers of both unrest and public unification.
While life in 2020 has been taxing and difficult, the challenges have also opened up important discussions about inclusion, equality and equity in our workplaces and organizations – around race, gender, economics, and education. The events we’ve been experiencing have opened eyes to changes that can be made to better support all people in our communities and create opportunities for personal and professional success for everyone, especially people of color and women.
Nonprofit organizations tend to hold a special place in the communities that they serve. Many times, they’re viewed as groups that help people in need, support local culture, and uphold strong values. Nonprofit leaders are generally well-respected community leaders, putting them in a unique position to generate positive change. To achieve equality, equity, and inclusion, leading by example is a great way to begin. Here are a few suggestions for getting started:
1. Institute a Governance Committee for Board Selection
If your organization doesn’t have a formal process for recruiting and selecting board members, instituting a governance committee is a great way to get that process going. Fill your committee with a handful of well-connected people who understand your mission and how you do business and charge them with developing a diverse list of potential candidates to fill board vacancies for the next several years. Reinforce to this committee that diversity – in age, race, gender, experience, and education – is key. Setting up a pipeline of leaders for several years helps to prepare volunteers for their upcoming role and helps leadership maintain a constant proactive approach to diverse leadership recruitment.
2. Be Proactive in Recruiting Volunteers and Staff
It’s no secret that some industries and organizations lack racial, gender and ethnic diversity, and it’s often easy to accept that as the status quo. While it may initially seem a bit forced to seek out people with backgrounds that are different from the ‘norm,’ you’ll often find that diversity breeds diversity. When organizations attract and include leaders with different points of view, more people in the audiences they serve can see themselves represented and will be more likely to participate as an advocate for the mission of the organization in the future.
3. Be Open to Learning
One thing that makes an inclusive, equitable team so great is the opportunity for everyone at the table to learn from one another. When a room is filled with people who all look the same and live similar lives, the space for learning from one another is not nearly as wide. Imagine the impact that your team could have if everyone had insights into a variety of backgrounds that were different than their own.
When it comes to equality, equity, and inclusion, many organizations will find they have room for improvement. No one has all the answers but collectively, and with a concerted effort toward true diversity, the impact can be great. There is an endless amount of resources available on the topic of equity, with a few impactful ones listed below.