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

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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.

Why Nonprofits Should Move Beyond 2-hour DEI Workshops

christina-wocintechchat-com-jzonFmreWok-unsplash-minBy YW Boston

Many nonprofits beginning their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) start with holding a workshop. A workshop can be the start, but it should not end there. As Sharon Maylor Ph.D., YW Boston’s Organizational Development Manager, explains, “If you are looking to frustrate your staff, only do a workshop. They will ask ‘what’s next?’”

Sharon works with organizations as they develop and implement their DEI action plans. She also supports with facilitating workshops. So, we sat down with her to get a clear picture of when workshops can be beneficial to an organization, and why they must always be followed by longer-term commitments.

Workshops can help created shared language.

In order for staff to be effective in their DEI initiatives, everyone must have some level of proficiency in topics of equity and inclusion. Workshops serve to create this shared language among staff, and to facilitate communication between staff members around this language. For instance, in a workshop on social identities, participants learn about the identities they hold and how they impact their work life. By having a baseline understanding together, staff members can feel confident driving DEI work together in the future.

Workshops cannot provide all of the knowledge or skills your staff needs.

The most common feedback participants share after workshops is that there was simply not enough time. Each workshop includes time for staff to discuss where their organization is in their DEI journey, and how they can apply what they’ve learned. This only scratches the surface of how deeply workshop participants need to assess their own organization. If there are no next steps planned, employees will return to their workflow silos without continuing their work.

Organizations will benefit from creating spaces where their staff can continue to learn together and can spend the necessary time evaluating gaps in their organizations’ DEI. They can build on the shared language they’ve learned during the workshops. This dedicated time results in a staff ready to create and implement a DEI action plan. Participants begin to connect the dots between their organization’s needs and their power to make change.

Should my nonprofit host a workshop?

To help you decide whether your organization should participate in a workshop, determine what you are trying to solve. If you want to ensure that your staff knows about DEI terminology, a workshop can help you get there. A workshop can also help you demonstrate to your organization that there is an appetite to do this deeper work.  If you are looking to create an effective DEI plan, you won’t find it with one or even a series of workshops. Don’t use workshops as a way to signal commitment when your organization hasn’t planned any further action steps.

Instead, ensure you set aside the time it takes to understand your organization’s needs, build trust, and implement an action plan. Workshops may fill a need within this long-term plan, but you must make it clear to staff that your nonprofit’s time investment is action-oriented and ongoing.

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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: Insider Tips for Grant-Writing Success

Nonprofit 411 People's-minBy Karen Galbo, Executive Director,VP; Foundation and Community Relations, People’s United Bank

Being able to effectively compete for grants is a mission-critical endeavor for the nonprofit sector. Whether an organization is seeking funds to expand key programs, launch new initiatives, obtain necessary equipment or services, or hire additional employees, grants provide crucial financial support that allow nonprofits to fulfill their purpose.

Not surprisingly, seeking a grant can be a high-stakes situation! Constraints on time, resources, and know-how can make grant-writing challenging—and even intimidating—but there are strategies and approaches that make the process easier and more effective. Ultimately, the most successful grant proposals provide compelling, specific information; are clearly and concisely written; and align well with a funder’s priorities.

Here are some quick tips:

  1. Do Your Due Diligence!

Research is the most crucial part of the grant-writing process. The very first step, therefore, should be to understand what the funder is looking for. Visit the funder’s website and study up on their focus areas and funding priorities, the size and levels of the grants they typically award, and other organizations they have funded recently. In addition, make sure your organization meets the minimum eligibility requirements for the grant you are applying for, and be sure to familiarize yourself with the application deadlines and submission process to ensure you can meet all criteria.

  1. Be Clear and Concise

While it can be tempting to wax poetic about every detail of your nonprofit’s history, mission, and efforts, grant writing is often a less-is-more endeavor: it is imperative to provide the requested information in a clear and concise manner. Be sure to convey your organization’s purpose and how you plan to use the grant funding to further the mission and drive impact—but do so without including unnecessary details or irrelevant information.

  1. Share Specifics

Nonprofit 411 Peoples textbox (1)-minA successful grant application should contain both quantitative (“100 participants graduated from high school, and 95% were accepted into college”) and qualitative data (“We were able to safely welcome students back into the classroom for in-person learning after COVID; parents indicated they felt confident in our health and safety practices”). Including outcome measurements that a funder may be looking for will help your grant proposal resonate with the reviewer. In addition, sprinkling in success stories—briefly—is a great way to provide a personalized view of the work your organization is doing. Talk to the program director(s) in your organization for key feedback that can help articulate these real-world results. Be sure to avoid industry jargon or abbreviations and acronyms that might be commonplace in your world, but unfamiliar to someone else.

  1. Follow Directions!

Funders set up specific parameters for filling out and submitting grant applications and staying within those parameters is key. If they indicate that a certain section should be one to two sentences long, stick to that length; if they do not want you to repeat information in multiple sections of the application, honor that request; if they specify that you submit the grant application via a web portal (and not via email), be sure to do so.

Remember, grants are available for a reason: funders want to partner with worthy nonprofits to fund projects that will drive change and elevate communities. Following these tips will help position your organization as the perfect recipient for their funds.

 

 

 

 

Nonprofit leaders, your DEI commitments did not end with the 2020 presidential election.

Picture1-minBy YW Boston

During the summer of 2020, we saw many organizations supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work. Finally, it was not enough to provide nominal support – nonprofit staff and constituents brought these topics forward and demanded real change. Toward the end of the year, we started to see this momentum wane. Last summer, it was hard to ignore what was right in front of us – two interlocked pandemics, COVID-19 and systemic racism. And our president at the time did not consider either to be a major concern.

Now that we have had a transition of power in the White House and the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is picking up speed, we have to ensure we don’t step away from our commitments. And as more organizations express their support of the Asian American Pacific Islander Community, we have to ensure we stay accountable to these public statements. While it may feel like we are reaching the end of a particularly dark year, remember that the inequities that made this time difficult still permeate our institutions. Now we must recognize: by committing to DEI, we will strengthen our work toward our missions, too.

This past year helped many leaders come to realize that aspects of their employees’ lives, such as their family’s needs or their racial identity, are not shed when they start working. These lived experiences can impact how secure people feel working at an organization, and leaders should meet any concerns with acknowledgment, empathy, and action. Strong leaders will take much of what they learned this past year forward. They will hold difficult workplace conversations and allocate resources to support employees.

While we saw a burst of energy and enthusiasm for DEI work last summer, now may actually be the best time to get organized. Anouska Bhattacharyya Ph.D., YW Boston’s Director of InclusionBoston, explained that, “There was a real haste last summer that meant folks wanted to show they were anti-racist RIGHT NOW. Rushed inclusion often leads to exclusion!” There is no one-size-fits-all solution for DEI work. Successful organizations are pacing the work with a “greater understanding that sustainable and equitable practices need to be baked into their daily praxis.”

Be sure to integrate time for research and reflection. One of the strengths of our InclusionBoston program is the space it provides for organizational assessment and relationship building. This provides a strong base of trust and understanding on which to build a successful plan. Once it is time for action-planning, we at YW Boston recommend following a SMARTIE plan. Evaluation is crucial throughout the entire process to understand your baseline and growth.

Remember, Anouska says, that there will be hiccups along the way which are an opportunity to find your growing points: “Hiccups are an opportunity for you to recruit more of your team into the solution. The greater the buy-in across your staff, the greater your successes.” By working through these stuck points, organizations will build the skills necessary to ensure their DEI work continues to deepen and grow.

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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: Where We Have Been & Where We Are Going – Considerations From an HR, Finance, and IT Perspective

Nonprofit 411 Insource-minBy Saleha Walsh, Vice President, Insource Services, Inc.

In this year of surreal change and anxiety, it can be a challenge to appreciate the progress and transformation many organizations are experiencing. As a firm that supports many nonprofits with their back-office business operations, we too were propelled into quick action a year ago and reflect on the trends we’ve seen as our clients adapt to this new reality.

The shift to a suddenly remote workforce and the events in the world has presented leaders with the dual challenge of stabilizing operations and rising to support employees as they juggle work/life balance. We hope sharing some of these trends will show you that you are not alone and may prompt you to consider some of these options at your organization.

Employer Challenges

  • Pivoting to remote operations and now, considering the office of the future (remote, traditional, hybrid), automating tools and processes
  • Providing more support for employee wellness and mental health
  • Proactively taking a stand on civic responsibility and exploring practices with a DE&I lens
  • Stabilizing operations in a time of uncertainty

Trends and Strategies

Different and more frequent employee check-ins

  • Town halls and issue forums
  • Deliberate connection – create “water cooler” time – chat, video, phone
  • Be the bearers of good news – positive updates, reassuring transparency

Reexamination of space and equipment, IT needs

  • Individual offices vs. congregate space considerations, what do you need, how do you want to invest your office dollars
  • Equipment needs review (copiers, phones, faxes – are they needed anymore?)
  • Reviews of IT system reliability and security, related policies
  • Reviewing computing needs for increasing applications (Zoom, Teams, etc.)
  • Incorporating collaboration tools into systems (SharePoint, Teams, Office 365, etc.)
  • Shift to cloud-based recordkeeping and investment in IT infrastructure
  • Increased IT security to avoid scams – multi-factor authentication, device monitoring
  • Staff security training

Showcasing and engaging staff

  • Creating affinity groups, DE&I educational opportunities (formal training, informal Read and Reflect sessions, or other opportunities for dialog)
  • Forming cross-organizational communication committees to address employee information needs and concerns

Providing increased employee support

  • Uptick in employee assistance programs (through disability carriers/free or standalone resources and training)
  • Expressing care and appreciation (thoughtful gifts mailed to employee’s homes, etc.)
  • Intranet reboots
  • Redesigning benefits around new realities (meal delivery vs. pre-tax parking, etc.)

Reexamining traditional standards and tools of productivity

  • Considering flexible standard work hours and locations
  • Modifying policies to accommodate remote or hybrid work requirements (security, childcare, reimbursement standards, etc.)
  • Work as a place of purpose and productivity vs. a location
  • Automation of financial processes – implementation of Bill.com, Expensify, DocuSign, and other automated and streamlining tools – replacing traditionally paper transactions
  • Retaining proper segregations of duties and updating accounting procedures

Setting a standard of corporate citizenship and responsibility

  • Giving back, employee matching programs
  • Creating a learning environment
  • Taking a stand
  • Increasing and supporting diversity and inclusion efforts

These are just a few of the trends we’ve been seeing in our work with clients. While this has been a stressful and difficult time, there have been some silver linings. As we emerge from the past year’s tribulations, we are grateful to have survived and honored to have witnessed all the good that can come out of even the darkest of times.

Insource Services offers outsourced, part-time HR, Finance, and IT services to small to midsized organizations. If you are interested in an assessment of your operations in any of these areas or would like to learn more about our services, please contact us at info@insourceservices.com.

 

How nonprofit leaders can communicate more effectively with diverse teams

OSS-minBy YW Boston

Over the past year, living and working in the midst of a pandemic, mourning the loss of many more Black lives to racism and anti-Blackness, and witnessing a violent insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, many nonprofit leaders have had to re-examine what it means to be an effective leader. In the face of unprecedented and compounding challenges, nonprofits are more aware than ever of the importance of instilling inclusive communication skills within their organizations. Leaders, tasked with supporting and guiding people who hold a variety of social identities and personalities, bear an especial responsibility when it comes to communication and accounting for the diversity within their teams.

Understand how social identities impact communications

Social identities inform how we experience life, including the workplace. At YW Boston, we define identity as “the way an individual thinks about themself, the way they are viewed by the world, and the characteristics that define them.” Social identities include race, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, class. What’s more, these identities intersect and create compounded advantages and disadvantages. The exploration of social identities is invaluable for leaders, given that these identities not only impact how we are perceived by others but how we perceive ourselves.

Beware of communication blockers

“Yes, but…” is one of the most reliable ways of derailing conversations and leaving others feeling unheard. Stealth “buts” also include:

  • “I understand where you’re coming from… However,”
  • “I see your point… Nevertheless,”
  • “That may be true… On the other hand,”
  • “You could say that…only,”
  • “You’re right…it’s just that,”

In order to combat the use of stealth “buts” and their derivatives, it’s important to begin building awareness around when these communication pitfalls come up and how often we use them. When we challenge ourselves to use different language, we begin to notice when and how our implicit attitudes occur. Try shifting from “buts” to “builds” by building upon the person’s idea before adding your own thoughts or before asking a question. Your questions should reflect curiosity and interest, not a desire to persuade or “poke holes” in an argument. If you wish to state your disagreement with what someone says, do so explicitly and respectfully.

Be cautious of mind-reading

Mindreading describes instances when we try to infer what other people are thinking without seeking clarification. Mindreading can cause us to form opinions or act upon assumptions. It is a significant barrier to effective communication as it can further entrench misunderstandings. Below are some signs that can help you identify if and when you are mindreading, so that you can disrupt the cycle:

  • You spend more time imagining than having real conversations.
  • You spend more time talking about others than to them.
  • What you think others are not saying affects you most.
  • You often wonder what others think of you.
  • You think others aren’t telling the whole truth.
  • Many things people say tend to bother you.
  • Others often remind you of someone you know or once knew.

It’s essential for nonprofit leaders to understand how social identities and the internalized and externalized assumptions that accompany them influence our communications. Only then can leaders and organizations be fully equipped to succeed in a vastly diverse workforce.

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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.