How nonprofits can prioritize disability equity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond 

MNNOctober2021DisabilityEquity (1)-minBy YW Boston

Whether we show up to work in-person or virtually, nonprofit staff do not just bring their professional identities to work, but so much more.  At YW Boston, we consider the “Big 8” social identities: various aspects of ourselves that affect “how people and systems treat us and the opportunities that are available to us.” One of these social identities is ability. 

Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, disability advocates have noted that many organizations adopted workplace accessibility policies and practices that the community has been proposing for years. It’s essential we understand disability equity and its importance to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.

An introduction to disability equity

YW Boston recently completed a series of workshops with Partners for Youth with Disabilities, an organization that was integral in informing our understanding of disability. 

First off, we encourage all to get comfortable with the word disability. Many people with disabilities identify as disabled and are proud to be a part of the disability community. As a good rule of thumb, notice how people self-identify and follow their lead.

A key framework for understanding disability equity is the Social Model of Disability. With the Social Model of Disability, disability is not a diagnosis, but a product of one’s social and physical environment.

The Social Model of Disability holds accountable those in charge of our physical and social environments to make necessary, accessible changes. This model is important when thinking about disability equity, which helps proactively accommodate the needs of people with disabilities.

Intersectionality is key

When thinking about disability equity it’s also important to think about how the social identity of disability can intersect with other forms of identity, such as race and gender. 

Not only may a person experience discrimination for their race, their gender, and their disability, but those experiences are interwoven. Assumptions made about one of their identities will also impact how they are treated regarding their other identities. 

Use the Pandemic to Better Understand Disability Accessibility

Here at YW Boston, we have become increasingly aware throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that we have work to do around accessibility. Some of our strategies to increase accessibility include utilizing online transcriptions, accommodating different learning styles during our programs, and expanding remote participation options. We also now utilize adaptable furniture and have designated quiet areas in our office.

Taking the time to think through disability inclusion in the office is an important part of DEI work and something that should be revisited frequently to be sustained.

How do you begin to implement disability inclusion in your workplace? 

One way to start implementing disability inclusion in your workspace is through required disability awareness training for all employees, including those with disabilities and those without. This keeps everyone on the same page as far as disability language and resources. 

Another way to start implementing disability inclusion is by providing accommodations for your employees with disabilities. As shown by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), accommodations help employees feel more secure in their individual roles and in working with their teammates.

If your organization needs additional support, reach out to those who offer organizational assessments, DEI services, and who specialize in disability equity.

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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—such as 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.

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.

Beyond the Buzzword, Part 2: How Can Critical Race Theory Further Your Nonprofit’s Equity and Inclusion Work?

MNNSeptember2021Thumbnail-min

By YW Boston

Last month we spoke with Dr. Sarah Faude, YW Boston’s Director of Research and Evaluation, about Critical Race Theory (CRT) and why it is misunderstood. This month, we continue our conversation and discover how CRT can support your nonprofit’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

How can understanding Critical Race Theory support DEI initiatives?

Critical Race Theory pushes us to ask “why” when looking at outcomes, norms, and institutional practices. YW Boston draws from several different theories, including CRT, to focus on root cause analyses. It pushes us to ask, “in what ways are things unequal?” and “how do we change it?”

Organizations talk about how it is frustrating that their staff isn’t diverse. They feel that the problem is too big. Where CRT can be helpful is slowing down to think about what are all the different policies and practices you do control. For instance, focus on policies in your handbook, who you reach out to with a job posting, how you expect employees to “show up” at work. These may not always impact who applies to your job but will impact whether people stay. Too often we see that the issue isn’t getting people of color in the door or even to the interviewing stage, but it’s getting people of color to stay once hired. Once you’ve narrowed the scope of the problem to things within your organization, you have a lot to work with.

How are you using Critical Race Theory in your work as Director of Research and Evaluation?

Connecting Critical Race Theory to evaluation creates more room in the conversation. When we decenter Whiteness, it is not to disregard Whiteness, but to make room for more at the center. When we’re working with partners, we are disproportionately working with White people. Anytime you average the experience of everyone in the room, you’re looking at a whitewashed average because there are more White people in your sample.

One of the things I’m working towards is to start pulling out subsets that are specifically the experiences of women, people of color, and more specifically women of color. So, we listen to both the average, and we pull out value and amplify that subgroup in the spirit of CRT’s counternarratives. Their experiences need to be elevated to help complicate what we think may or may not be happening within organizations.

What is the role of “complicating” in organizational change?

I think that by asking complicated questions, you’re going into the weeds. That complexity is always opportunity. It helps us see all the different opportunities that we have before us we might have missed. Like asking, “How do we fix our culture at our organization?” Well, let’s take that big thing and start breaking it down into its component parts by who works there, the documents, the practices. If we can both have the big picture goal in mind and be in those weeds, we have an opportunity to innovate and work towards inclusion.

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 ServicesInclusionBoston 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.

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.

Nonprofit 411: Social Media During COVID-19

Nonprofit 411 HEARD 9.21-minBy HEARD Strategy and Storytelling

For many nonprofit organizations, sustainability is always a top priority. An organization’s goal of delivering on its mission during the Covid-19 pandemic has likely brought many challenges. Social media has grown to be an essential part of maintaining relationships and fundraising for nonprofits across the globe.

Social media, since the medium’s inception, has been a tool to help people connect. This is no different for nonprofits and their supporters. Because of the pandemic, organizations have had to heavily rely on social media to highlight the work they’ve been doing, as well as create and cultivate virtual connections. Each platform is a tool that can be used to introduce new people to your organization in various ways, as well as highlight key happenings with those who are already familiar with your work. Social media has given the opportunity to quickly share information and engage with those you share it with. People can have conversations, not only about you and your work, but also with you. Covid-19 has forced many conversations to be held, in some capacity, online and social media has been the perfect platform for that to happen.

Fundraising plays a vital role in the survival of nonprofits. Organizations have been pushed to create new, innovative ways to raise money since early 2020. Social media has presented new opportunities to bring in that funding in ways that might not have been thought about before being forced into this new reality. By using platforms like Facebook and Instagram, events can be streamed to give supporters the feel of being there, while remaining in the safety of their own home.

One considerable benefit of social media is the cost. There is little to no cost to reach people through social media. Organic posts will reach those in your network, while creating relatively inexpensive sponsored posts can reach a larger target market. The potential reach is ultimately determined by the cost and demographics of your selected audience. It would be likely that your return on investment would be greater during the pandemic because of an increased amount of screen time for many people. Because of this, it might seem like you’re more susceptible to competing to be on your audience’s radar. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s important for nonprofits to capitalize on this opportunity to provide valuable content to really keep their audience engaged during this exceptional time.

A few tips:

  • Be consistent – you will not be able to build an engaged audience with sporadic posts.
  • Use hashtags – this will drive people with shared interests to your posts.
  • Provide a call to action – tell your supporters what you want them to do.
  • Engage – the point of social media is to BE SOCIAL!

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced people and organizations to discover new ways to create meaningful connections online. Various in-person restrictions have presented an array of challenges when it comes to connecting nonprofits with their audiences and supporters since March of 2020. During a time when physical connections have been so difficult to maintain, social media platforms have become essential in forging a virtual path to continue missions, as well as drive in new patrons and stay connected with current audiences.

How Nonprofits Can Critically Understand Race: Unpacking Critical Race Theory

MNNSharedSectorAugust2021By YW Boston

Critical Race Theory is the buzzword of summer 2021. But what is it? Critical Race Theory (CRT) emerged out of critical legal studies in the 1970s and 80s. Legal scholars sought to explain, “Why has equal protection under the law not led to equal outcomes or opportunities for Black people?” They theorized that the law could never be race neutral, but instead was shaped by those who held power.

Over the past year, nonprofits have demonstrated an increased interest in understanding systemic racism and taking anti-racist action. Dr. Sarah Faude, YW Boston’s Director of Research and Evaluation, is trained in Critical Race Theory. During the first part of this piece, we speak with Dr. Faude about the theory and why it has been misunderstood.

What are the key features of Critical Race Theory?

Below are a few of the key elements as they are laid out in the introduction of Words that Wound:

  1. Racism is ordinary and everywhere. We can move beyond debating if it exists and instead focus on better understanding how institutions support it (and how we can choose alternative paths).
  2. Be skeptical of neutrality, colorblindness, and meritocracy. CRT encourages us to dig deeper. Who created these narratives?
  3. Context matters. CRT encourages a historical reading of the law and the world.
  4. Value experiential knowledge. The dominant narratives misrecognize the experiences of people of color. Counternarratives provide other explanations.
  5. The goal is eliminating racial oppression. When we look intersectionally, like YW Boston does, we see that systems of oppression overlap and intersect. CRT argues that race is at the center of those intersections.

How is this different from learning about the history of racism?

Well, it is, and it isn’t, depending on how you learn the history of racism and what areas you’re studying. If you’re reading up on the history of racism in the law, then it’s likely you’re engaging with Critical Race Theory or communities of scholars who’ve read it. “Critical” is often a signal that there’s an interest in talking about power.

Critical Race Theory is a particular thing that has come to represent many things beyond it. The current conversation on Critical Race Theory is a resistance to nuanced conversations on how race and racism have been central to our history and culture in the US. Once we take a deep breath and look squarely at that history, we can get to work.

What about Critical Race Theory makes people nervous?

People are nervous because it can feel risky. If you’re somebody who has built a successful career without having to name racism, its history in your life and workplace – there is a lot of reflecting and learning to do. Doing that work is hard and can’t be done overnight. It’s risky because it requires vulnerability. We believe that organizations are now in a place where they are realizing the risk of not talking about race and racism and how it impacts everything including their constituents, employees, and communities.

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.

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.

 

Nonprofit 411: Hybrid Work: The Next Normal?

Nonprofit 411 BNN 8.21-minBy Paige Ricci, Senior Advisory, Business & Technology Advisory Practice, Baker Newman Noyes

As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many questions about what this means for returning to an in person work environment. We settled into a “new normal” for the past 17 months as we all transitioned to remote work and we did so in such a prompt and critical manner.

So, what is the “next normal”? It’s where we are headed as our communities begin to relax restrictions. As a result of this, employers are both feeling safe and supported to do the same. For many of us this means a transition from a fully remote to a hybrid work model that provides desired flexibility to all employees.

Why Hybrid?

It provides the desired flexibility for employees. The impact of returning to an office on a full time basis can be great for all employees. . A hybrid model gives employees the freedom to work when and where they are most likely to thrive. On some days this may be in the office collaborating with peers, while on other days it may be at home focusing on a project or deliverable.

How to Make a Hybrid Model Successful

  • Governance model – Ensure you have the right people in the right seats setting the direction and making decisions. All meetings should be facilitated with a purpose to ensure optimal communication, collaboration and clear next steps.
  • Communicate clearly and often – It is important for both employees and employers to communicate expectations. Operating in a hybrid model may invite gray areas that can lead to confusion. Communicating clearly and often will remove assumptions about deliverables, deadlines, or expected work schedules.
  • Optimize technology – Many of us implemented new technology in a hurry back in March 2020. Now is the time to consider whether the new technology can be optimized for the future of a hybrid work environment.
  • Training – Train your team on any new technology you have implemented. Also consider training on approach, expectations and procedures to execute a comfortable working environment whether it is in the office or remotely.
  • Consider logistics – When considering a hybrid model and employee schedules, it is important to understand the impact this will have on your operation. Leaders should look at their business  and understand what is needed to ensure an optimal operation.
  • Document procedures – Consider documenting enterprise-wide expectations of employees within the hybrid environment that provide flexibility but also guard rails to assist with the effectiveness of your organization, such as minimum days a week in the office.
  • Team engagement – Work with your team to understand what they need. If we have learned anything in the remote environment, it’s that we need to be flexible while still working towards a common goal of getting the job done.
  • Collaborate – As some employees return to the office and others continue to work remotely, it is important to continue to collaborate through weekly meetings or even a daily huddle. This will allow for a sense of community to remain, regardless of working environment.

The Future of Hybrid

It is clear that the way we work has been forever transformed. The way we operated in 2019 will not be the way we work going forward. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we do think hybrid work models may be here to stay.

4 things to consider when measuring your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives

Picture1

By YW Boston

Increasingly, nonprofit and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professionals have stressed the importance for organizations to measure their DEI efforts as intently as they measure any other key performance indicators. Nonprofit boards and institutional donors are asking for DEI measurements right alongside program-related metrics.

YW Boston’s DEI Services focus on change at three levels: micro (changes to an individual’s knowledge, attitude, behavior, and self-concept,) meso (changes in cultural and interpersonal interactions,) and macro (changes in the policies and practices of institutions and communities.) Yet no matter the specific approach to DEI, the process requires a long-term commitment and careful evaluation. That which is not measured, cannot be properly tracked or reassessed, and ultimately, it cannot be prioritized.

Define your scope and purpose

Gathering data for the sake of it cause more harm than good. Particularly when soliciting information about personal experiences of power, privilege, and discrimination; and social identities such as race, gender, ability, sexual orientation, immigrant status, etc. The first step is to identify your unique DEI metrics and why you would like to track them. These metrics should help your organization identify priority areas, set goals, measure impact, motivate staff and leadership, and stay accountable.

Establish your own unique baseline

At YW Boston, we collect DEI data throughout each stage in our programs’ processes: pre-, during, and post-. Measuring a baseline allows us to better understand who has signed up to do this DEI work. Knowing both who is entering this work and how allows us to finetune our curriculum, facilitation styles, action plan support, and other elements of our partnership to best serve the partner organization’s growth potential. Subsequent evaluations allow us to better understand what change looks like.

Gather meaningful metrics that go beyond diversity

Organizations can be tempted to measure what is most accessible or visible. While this can be a good starting point, solely evaluating diversity metrics will make space for ongoing inequities within the organization. For instance, tracking the diversity of new hires without measuring their engagement, promotion, pay, and retention within the organization does not tell the full story, leaving room for inequitable consequences. A part of this process is to understand deeply the implications and differences between diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Organizations should also think about data intersectionally. This means not just thinking about promotion rates for Black employees, for instance, but promotion rates for Black employees within different departments and with other intersecting social identities such as Black women or queer Black employees.

Account for bias in your evaluations

Evaluations can provide essential data about the progress of your diversity and inclusion efforts. They are also a valuable tool that will inform any adjustments, should you need to course correct. Yet bias often shows up in evaluations, and when it comes to evaluating racial equity, this unaddressed bias can jeopardize the success of your efforts of improving DEI in the workplace. Learn about identifying and mitigating bias: Your evaluations are likely biased. Here’s what you can do about it.
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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.
As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.

Nonprofit 411: Well-being at Work – Good for People, Good for Business

Nonprofit 411 BerryDunn 6.21-minBy Vienna Morrill, Management Consultant, BerryDunn

Our position as leaders in nonprofit audit, tax, and consulting has given us insight into many different work environments. We know (and the research shows) that a positive workplace culture makes a big difference when it comes to the success of our clients – particularly in their ability to attract, retain, and bring out the very best in their talent. One of the most meaningful ways to cultivate a positive workplace culture is to create an environment that places a strong emphasis on supporting individual well-being and human connection.

Well-being and the workplace

Well-being is how we feel about our lives. It’s often a reflection of the quality of our relationships, our positive emotions, the realization of our potential, and overall satisfaction with life (learn more from the CDC). The work environment, including the people, policies, built environment (physical and virtual), and nature of work itself, has a significant influence on our well-being.

Most mid- to large-size organizations offer some type of wellness program. These programs tend to focus on physical and mental health and are often viewed as a set of resources and benefits to be used outside of work or when workloads allow. At best, these programs boost satisfaction among employees who already have healthy habits and inspire some positive behavior change among those who are looking to improve. At worst, these programs can be viewed as non-inclusive and even punitive for those who may be struggling with their personal well-being.

The most effective well-being programs meet employees where they are in their own well-being journeys. These programs are multi-dimensional – often encompassing mental, social, financial, career, and physical well-being. They also put a great deal of emphasis on how the work environment (people, processes, systems) supports and encourages well-being.

An effective well-being program makes a variety of resources and tools available to your employees while also building a culture of support – saying we trust you to know what’s best for you at this stage in life and are here to support you should you need it. This is a much more effective approach for cultivating a positive culture and supporting long-term healthy behavior change.

What are some special wellbeing considerations for non-profits?

Research suggests that sense of purpose may be the most important aspect of employee well-being. Nonprofits are inherently mission-driven and purpose is already “baked in” to the work environment. As you consider your workforce, be mindful of understanding people’s strengths and finding ways to align those strengths not only with a job task, but directly with the mission of your organization. Consider providing opportunities for managers to work with employees on “job crafting” – which means empowering employees to redesign parts of their jobs by actively changing their tasks and interactions with others at work.

As a nonprofit organization, you may not be able to offer as competitive of compensation as other organizations. The good news is that today’s employees are generally more motivated by the opportunity to grow, contribute value, and maintain their definition of work-life balance. Fair and livable wages are, of course, essential – but when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff your best bet may be to focus on cultivating an environment where people feel they can thrive both personally and professionally.

To learn more about how to develop a culture of well-being at your organization, please contact Vienna Morrill at vmorrill@berrydunn.com.

My organization isn’t doing enough to support DEI. How can I push them to do more?

Picture1-minBy YW Boston

Many of us have been feeling frustrated and wondering how we can do more. You may have wondered; how do you push your nonprofit organization to become equitable and inclusive? Don’t.

The work can’t be pushed, but intentioned, built, iterated upon, and built again. At the center of DEI is relationships and how they affect culture. If we default to pushing, we risk losing sight of the efficacy that is available to us and begin treating our colleagues like shadows in the night. So don’t push. Set clarified intent, be honest, and build.

Before you can start, determine whether your motivations are authentic, basically whether you are personally and professionally connected to progress. Ask: Why do I want this? Who am I concerned enough for that when they are challenged, I also feel challenged? Once you’ve gotten clear on whether or not your sense of urgency is authentic, it’s time to assess your environment.

Know how to work with an obstructive bystander.

It is easy to mistake someone in your way for someone standing in opposition. Those who are in the way, an obstructive bystander, haven’t recognized how ‘’the work” is good for them, too. They are more motivated to protect their social/financial/professional position. It will take time before they can authentically see themselves in the suffering of others and this can’t happen on anyone else’s timeline but their own. For these folks, teach them how not to stand in the way and lean heavily on the things you appreciate about them.

Utilize your power to create community.

Build relationships with like-minded people at work and build excitement around the things you all care about. Find ways to hold court. Make an announcement at a staff meeting about a group lunch with a topic aimed at thinking critically about DEI. Try on each other’s perspectives with engaging activities. The shared excitement and welcoming vibe of the group is your best chance at motivating others, where they can begin to contribute to changing organizational culture.

What should I do if I am a leader?

Leaders should focus on being solicitors and facilitators of information. Provide space and time, while actively gathering resources and capital to rally institutional support in the form of professional development, employee resource groups, inclusive practices, norms building, and retention.

To remain anchored into your goals:

  • Be honest with yourself and others about your ideas and why you want them to come to fruition.
  • Be reflective and open to change.
  • Name harm when you see it and offer up human connection in its place.
  • Build community.

It takes time and concerted effort to succeed in organizational change, and that is why you cannot simply push. Instead, create spaces that encourage listening and collaboration. In doing so, more of your colleagues will discover why it is critical to their own well-being and success to prioritize DEI.  And with more people authentically engaged, you will be able to work together to see the change you’ve been looking for.

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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 ServicesInclusionBoston 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.

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.

Prepare Now for Life after Zoom: COVID-19 Governance Flexibilities for Massachusetts Nonprofits Ending Soon

Nonprofit 411 HemBarr 5.19.21-minBy Brad Bedingfield and Eleanor Evans of Hemenway & Barnes LLP

Governor Charlie Baker has announced that his March 10, 2020 COVID-19 State of Emergency will end on June 15, 2021. Governance flexibilities afforded Massachusetts nonprofit corporations by temporary emergency legislation enacted last spring – including the authority to hold member meetings via Zoom – will therefore expire August 14, 2021.

As discussed in MNN Nonprofit 411: Emergency Law Provides Governance Flexibility for Massachusetts Nonprofits, the emergency legislation, Section 16 of Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 (“Section 16”), provides that, during the current COVID-19 state of emergency and for 60 days thereafter, the board of a nonprofit incorporated in Massachusetts may take certain actions regardless of what its bylaws may say, as long as the nonprofit’s articles of organization do not expressly forbid those actions.

Among other things, Section 16 temporarily permits the board of a Massachusetts nonprofit corporation to allow the corporation’s members to meet remotely by audio- or videoconference. As a result, for the last year, many Massachusetts nonprofits have been holding their member meetings via Zoom or similar videoconference technology. Section 16 also permits members to vote by proxy even if the organization’s bylaws require them to vote in person. (In this context, the term “member” refers only to members with voting rights under Massachusetts nonprofit corporate law, and not to contributors or supporters of the nonprofit that the nonprofit calls “members” but who do not have legal voting rights.)

Review Your Bylaws and Make Changes Now

After August 14, these and other governance flexibilities permitted under Section 16 will no longer be effective and the “regular” provisions of Massachusetts nonprofit corporate law will apply. Under those provisions, members must vote either in person or by proxy. Many Massachusetts nonprofits’ bylaws preclude proxy voting for members, however, meaning that their members must meet in person. Now is a good time to review your organization’s bylaws and, if they include such a provision, to consider removing it to provide members with a means of making decisions at a distance after Section 16 expires.

Boards of Directors May Continue to Meet Remotely

Under the regular provisions of Massachusetts nonprofit corporate law, boards of directors (but not members) of Massachusetts nonprofit corporations may meet via audio- or videoconference where everyone participating in the meeting can hear one another, as long as neither the articles of organization nor the bylaws specify otherwise.

Unanimous Written Consent Needed for Voting by Email

Under Massachusetts nonprofit corporate law, voting by email is not permitted for nonprofit members or directors unless the vote meets the requirements of a unanimous written consent. Members and directors may take an action without a meeting if all members or directors, as applicable, entitled to vote on the matter consent to the action in writing and the written consents are filed with the organization’s meeting minutes.

It is possible to circulate a vote via email to all members or directors, as the case may be, for them to consent to in writing. However, for the vote to be valid, all members or directors, as applicable, entitled to vote on the matter must return the consent. The action becomes effective on the date the last consent is returned. For nonprofits with a large number of voting members, voting by unanimous written consent may not be a practical option.

For Additional Information

If you have questions about how the expiration of the emergency legislation will affect your nonprofit’s governance procedures, please contact Eleanor Evans or Brad Bedingfield at Hemenway & Barnes LLP.

This advisory is provided solely for information purposes and should not be construed as legal advice with respect to any particular situation.

Nonprofit 411: How Inclusionary Practices Can Empower Traditionally Underrepresented Investors to Save More for Retirement

Nonprofit 411 CORE-minBy Lisa Cardinal, Associate Sales Director, Massachusetts CORE Plan

A survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Empower Retirement reveals that many employees experience a sense of disconnection from the retirement and financial services industries. In the short term, this disconnection can cause confusion about how best to plan for the future, and in the long term it can result in a less secure retirement.

Our results also show that traditionally underrepresented groups are behind when it comes to retirement preparation. In other words, not only are there perceived inequities across demographics, but there are also realized retirement inequalities.

One reason for this retirement inequality is that a higher percentage of traditionally unrepresented groups do not have access to workplace retirement plans. Having that access increases the likelihood that an employee has begun saving. In addition, traditionally underrepresented employees tend to lag their counterparts when it comes to their income levels. It stands to reason that this disparity may impact the ability of lower-income employees to save for retirement.

Investors who have been traditionally underrepresented recognize the need for more financial education and guidance, but many are uncertain where to turn for unbiased advice. Many employees who are not white men say they will not be taken seriously as a client by a financial services company.

Perhaps as a result, many of these employees are turning to family, friends and colleagues for financial advice instead of financial advisors. This leaves a large percentage of Americans relying on sources that are not necessarily trained for providing retirement savings guidance.

To help people of all demographics save effectively for retirement, employers and financial services providers should constantly evaluate and re-evaluate communications, retirement plan offerings and employee outcomes, then make adjustments as needed. This effort starts with understanding the current reality of employee attitudes and outcomes.

According to the Harris Poll survey, the top 5 ways respondents want to learn about retirement are:

  1. Online tools I can use to fit my needs/situation
  2. Easy-to-read articles on websites
  3. Personalized information about my savings
  4. Classes I can view online to educate myself
  5. Visual information

Tackling the retirement wealth gap starts with communicating to employees clearly and straightforwardly about their retirement saving opportunities. Employers and advisors who can take the time to understand investors’ needs are more likely to connect with them. Additionally, financial services providers should make sure all employees have access to unbiased retirement advice and increase participation throughout the organization, so the population of retirement savers better reflects the makeup of society. Over time, such efforts can help close the retirement wealth gap.

The Massachusetts CORE Plan is an affiliate member of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and a 401(k) retirement plan designed specifically for Massachusetts nonprofits.

For additional information about the CORE Plan, please contact Lisa Cardinal at 617 510 4036 or lisa.cardinal@empower-retirement. com or visit www.ma-employer-core.com.