Our Shared Sector: 3 Key Diversity and Inclusion Strategies for Nonprofits

By YW Boston

Our Shared Sector Nov 2019-min

The previous two editions of Our Shared Sector described the differences between each part of the “DE&I” Acronym–diversity, equity, and inclusion. The articles also covered several steps that nonprofits can take to weave these principles into their organizational cultures.

Your organization may now feel ready to embark on their diversity and inclusion journey towards a more equitable workplace. Or you may have already begun to implement changes. What happens when you stumble across roadblocks and find the need to re-assess? Here are three key strategies to address common pitfalls during your diversity and inclusion journey:

  1. The diversity within your staff may not be reflective of the diversity of your constituents.

One of the business arguments for DE&I raises a concern that understanding a breadth of markets is impossible without diversity of thought. After all, diversity boosts innovation within organizations. How then can companies measure whether they are building a representative workforce? DE&I experts suggest that leadership should compare demographic information to the makeup of employees within their organization. Reports show that although women made up 51% of the population in the United States in 2012, the number of women within executive teams only accounted for an average representation of 16%. Representation is even lower at the intersections of race and gender.

  1. A diverse pool of candidates may be hiding in plain sight.

When it comes to hiring, where can nonprofit organizations find diverse professionals that are representative of their constituents? We often hear recruiters and leadership executives justify their lack of diverse hiring by claiming they simply can’t find any diverse candidates. In some cases, going as far as claiming that diverse candidates do not exist or show interest in their industry. It’s important to remember that it’s not just about knowing where to look, but how. If you only look in those places that have already produced homogeneous candidates, you are unlikely to find much diversity. Instead, try sourcing through the networks of your diverse peers. Reach out to candidates and invite them to apply to a position within your organization. Furthermore, diversity may be hiding in plain sight, as some diverse folks may be “coding” to try and fit in.

  1. You may need to re-evaluate your metrics.

Let’s say your organization is trying to address racial or gender wage gaps. Research shows that women, particularly women of color, earn less than their male counterparts. Additionally, people of color, women, and in particular women of color are less likely to be considered for promotions or find placement in leadership positions. One way to address wage differences as early as possible is by paying close attention to how inequities manifest themselves during the hiring process. The Equal Pay Act— a law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act that was signed in 1963 and advocated by YW Boston— encourages candidates never to reveal their previous salary to future employers. This is important because candidates, particularly candidates with diverse intersecting identities, may have been underpaid at their previous position so bringing up past salaries during a negotiation or using them as a starting point may be detrimental to the candidate. After all, salary is often a better indicator of a company’s budget size, not of employee experience.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Our Shared Sector: After Understanding the “DE&I” Acronym, How Can Nonprofits Start Their DE&I Journeys?

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The last edition of Our Shared Sector described the differences between each part of the “DE&I” Acronym–diversity, equity, and inclusion–and explained how the differences between each requires distinct approaches in improving them at an organization. This edition focuses on steps that nonprofits can take to weave the principles of diversity, equity into their organizational cultures.

Diversity

Increasing diversity within an organization most often means working with the Human Resources team, and any others in charge of hiring and promotion. It may mean creating or adjusting your hiring handbook or including language in job postings that indicate that people of color, women and non-binary individuals, those with disabilities, etc. are encouraged to apply.

Equity

By focusing on equity, an organization addresses all aspects of their work with an understanding that not all employees or potential employees have access to the same resources. Using an equity lens means asking questions such as: “Where are you posting the job description? Is the language accessible? Are you listing skills that allow other people to apply?” For example, you may recognize that while a job description states, “Master’s degree preferred,” not all prospective employees have had access to graduate education, so it is worth evaluating comparable skills sets for the job, such as experience working in the community.

Utilizing an equity lens means realizing that people of less privileged backgrounds often do not enter an organization with the same resources as their privileged counterparts. Therefore, it is equitable to provide them with additional support, such as providing them with professional development opportunities. Additionally, an equitable lens recognizes that leadership must ensure that white people and men are contributing to inclusion and are committed to change on an institutional level.

Inclusion

Inclusion works to create a welcoming work culture–one where individuals of all identities and racial and ethnic backgrounds feel that they are being supported and able to succeed. One strategy many workplaces employ is creating an Inclusion Committee. Committees such as these work with senior leadership and provide a space for individuals to brainstorm how to better support people of color and women in all levels.

What’s the next step?

Even after understanding the differences in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, actually putting a plan in place can feel daunting.

Keep these three pieces of advice in mind during your DE&I journey:

  1. It takes time. DE&I work is an ongoing process that will require both time in employees’ work schedules and a long-term plan that the organization commits to seeing through.
  2. This is not easy work. People are not used to discussing equity in the workplace, and it is going to be hard to get everyone on board. That is why leadership buy-in is so crucial–support from the top can provide needed guidance to the entire organization.
  3. There is no “right way” to do equity work. Each organization must come up with a plan to address their particular workplace dynamics and opportunities.

Consider reaching out to experts to ensure your organization makes the space and time to create meaningful cultural change.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Our Shared Sector: What Every Nonprofit Should Know About the Acronym “DE&I”

by YW Boston

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or “DE&I” as it is commonly referred to, is a phrase that broadly outlines the efforts an organization takes to create a more welcoming environment for people of less-privileged identities. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can include any number of interventions and can feel daunting for nonprofits as it requires time, resources, and organizational buy-in. Once a nonprofit has identified that it wants to promote more diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces, a good starting point is gaining clarity on what diversity, equity, and inclusion is and isn’t.

But Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is referred to as “DE&I” so often that many individuals may not know what each letter refers to. One barrier nonprofits may face in getting started building a strategy is not knowing the difference between these three concepts and how to address each.

To get started, each part of the acronym is defined below.

What is diversity? What is equity? What is inclusion?

Independent Sector’s definitions of each of these terms are helpful to understanding their differences:

Diversity “includes all the ways in which people differ, encompassing the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another,” including identity markers such as race, ethnicity, gender, differing abilities, sexual orientation, religion, and more. It also takes intersectional diversity into account, when people’s identity is made of a number of underrepresented identities.

Equity is “the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources.”

Inclusion is “the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.” Inclusion goes beyond diversity, because once you have a diverse staff, organizations must focus on retention.

YW Boston often uses inclusion strategist Vernā Myers’ analogy: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” Diversity is often thought of as being quantifiable by measuring who is represented in an institution. Inclusion is measured through qualifiable data, looking at attitudes and people’s perceptions of how welcoming an organization.

Why can it be unhelpful to boil it all down to “DE&I” acronym?

While goal setting is an important aspect of this work, diversity, equity, and inclusion each require different methods of intervention, different resources, and different tools for measurement.

When Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are boiled down to the acronym DE&I, diversity often becomes the focus. Because racial, ethnic, and/or gender diversity can sometimes (but not always) be determined by visually scanning an organization, nonprofits may feel it is the easiest to measure and therefore tackle. Diversifying the workforce is important, but that doesn’t directly lead to those new hires feeling welcomed or supported in the organization.

To be able to move beyond diversity, YW Boston’s InclusionBoston team explains, an organization must work with “an understanding that the systems they are working in, especially when they think about institutions, are not equal and are not equitable. They need to recognize that they have to move beyond just having people in the room or at the table.” Organizations often assume that diversity equals inclusivity. While that is not necessarily the case, oftentimes if you are truly inclusive, diversity will follow along.

In addition, many people assume that DE&I work refers specifically to race and gender, but it can address any or all systemic issues of inequity. By looking deeper than the DE&I acronym, an organization can determine whether there is a particular systemic inequity it must address.

The next edition of Our Shared Sector will help nonprofits begin to address each part of the DE&I acronym within their organizations.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

Our Shared Sector: Four Ways to Become a More Inclusive Nonprofit Leader

by YW Boston

YW Boston 1-min

Studies have found that nonprofit organizations are suffering from racial and gender leadership gaps. Research shows that people of color have similar qualifications as white respondents and are more likely to aspire to nonprofit leadership positions, yet people of color are severely underrepresented in leadership positions within the nonprofit sector. This has left many nonprofits wondering how they can develop more inclusive leadership in order to successfully support diversity and inclusion within their organization.

We know that improving diversity and inclusion within an organization requires a team effort. DE&I experts stress the importance of organizational buy-in. Leadership, in particular, should be open to changes within the organization. Executive leadership and management can sometimes pose as gatekeepers to organizational change. Therefore, it’s essential for influential leaders to assess the inclusivity of their leadership. Inclusive leaders can become change agents and are a key element of successful diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Fostering inclusive leadership means that your organization is committed to seeking diverse viewpoints, particularly when it comes to decision making.

But what exactly is an inclusive leader? How does one become an inclusive leader and how can individuals assess their own leadership skills?

1. Value and leverage all points of view in order to make better decisions

Groupthink can stifle innovation, decision making, and hurt a company’s bottom line. A leader’s ability to leverage diverse viewpoints can become one of their most critical skills. Through improved collaboration and strategic decision making, inclusive leaders can positively impact business performance, professional development, and employee engagement within their organizations. Not only do diverse teams perform better, but there is also a penalty for less diverse companies.

2. Build the courage to challenge assumptions and practice accountability

Inclusive leaders tolerate risk and are willing to be the first to speak up in favor of changes within an organization. It takes courage to challenge the status quo and hold the organization, others, and ourselves accountable. Courageous leaders should practice self-awareness and regulation in order to lean into discomfort and address their own biases and limitations.

3. Are committed to intentionally creating more inclusive spaces

When an organization is inclusive, all members feel valued, respected, and confident in speaking up and being heard. An inclusive space makes everyone feel like they belong. Improving inclusivity requires a long-term commitment and intentional effort. This means that inclusive leaders should adapt their practices and allocate resources towards improving diversity and inclusion. By aligning DE&I efforts to personal values and business priorities, inclusive leaders can ensure lasting impact.

4. Analyze root causes before taking action

A systems approach, such as the iceberg model, can allow leaders to be more effective and inclusive problem solvers. The iceberg model looks at the various elements within a system that can influence each other. During YW Boston’s LeadBoston program, we challenge participants to critically assess challenges in order to differentiate between symptoms and root cause. This approach provides both the knowledge and the tools that allow leaders to identify attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that may be reinforcing barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

 

YW Boston 2-min

Source

This article appeared originally on the YW Boston blog.

About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and youth programming, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.