Contemporary society expects accountability from government and business related to matters of equity, and the nonprofit sector is no exception: We bear the same responsibility in helping to create a just society – if not more so.
That’s why we’ve organized this resource hub as a starting point, meant to help nonprofit leaders begin building their capacity for equity work within the organization; please know that it is not our intention to oversimplify DEI work or the issues necessitating it. Rather, we hope that this hub will empower you to achieve greater levels of equity and inclusion by making the exploration of initial steps less intimidating.
To that end, we have curated a number of resources and organized them into several broad categories that we believe will support actionable organizational strategies. A nonprofit has many facets to consider when starting DEI work, including the board, staffing, programs, and how the organization connects to the greater community. Below, you’ll find links to guides, examples, and tools from some of the sector’s thought leaders in the DEI space, as well as various consulting firms and issue leaders, addressing the fundamental areas of nonprofit practice to take action around.
Which topic would you like to learn more about?
Organizations can avoid missteps before jumping into tactics by creating a basis for common understanding. Consider, for example, the following questions:
- Do we have a shared vocabulary?
- How do we define diversity, inclusion, racial equity, and other terms?
- What is implicit bias?
- Have we discussed structural racism, microaggression, dominate culture, and privilege?
- Are we welcoming as a board, staff, and organization? How would we know, and how can we prevent blind spots?
Leaders should be mindful that process matters; if handled improperly – without the proper groundwork established – DEI work could backfire, triggering setbacks in equitable practices. Therefore, it’s important to cultivate the abilities to lead conversations on topics such as unconscious biases and identity; to encourage risk-taking; to surface divergent views; and to manage conflict and emotions. Leaders should be mindful about their internal capacity to facilitate these conversations and whether they should seek external assistance to create a space where everyone can lean in and have courageous conversations.
Understanding the Fundamentals
While diversity creates the potential for greater innovation and productivity, inclusion is what enables organizations to realize the business benefits of this potential. Equity refers to fair treatment in access, opportunity, and advancement for individuals. Work in this area includes identifying and working to eliminate barriers to fair treatment for disadvantaged groups.
Here are some resources to begin exploring fundamentals and data related to equity and inclusion.
Making the Case for DEI
A successful strategic DEI plan is one that is relevant to an organization’s mission, vision, and business objectives. Whether you are advocating internally to begin planning or working through an existing plan, it’s smart to build a case for DEI work that links the investment of time, effort, and other resources to business outcomes such as retention and mission achievement.
Assessing Your Organizaiton
Considering the vastness and complexity of the sector, an organization’s equity journey will never be formulaic. However, according to research conducted by Georgetown University, organizations can typically place themselves in one of the stages summarized in the Quick Tool linked below.
For a deeper dive into the stages, check the full Georgetown report. We’ve also provided links to two surveys that can be used to help assess your organization’s equity journey. (Consider loading questions from one or both into a free online tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms, which make it easy to share with staff and organize responses.)
Assessing Your Leaders
An important aspect of building capacity for equity work is assessing leadership’s role in creating actionable change. The self-assessment resources below are based on the COMMIT framework, which has been extensively evaluated by the University of Pennsylvania to confirm its validity, reliability, and transferability as an effective inclusion coaching framework.
The Quick Tool linked here is a helpful resource in assessing personal leadership progression, from “care” to “commitment,” in terms of leading organizational change to support greater inclusion. For more details on COMMIT, and why it’s effective, check out the full research report.
Creating a Strategic DEI Plan
The resources below will help organizational leaders craft a strategic DEI Plan for your own organization.
Additional planning resources
Operationalizing DEI Plans
Below, find help for making your DEI-centered plans a reality.
Evaluating DEI Progress
As with any other initiative, your nonprofit will need to measure the progress you’re making toward your DEI goals, assess your results regularly, and make the adjustments needed to keep efforts on track. Be sure to consider the measurements you’ll be using, and how you’ll be taking them, as you develop your plans.
W.K. Kellogg Foundation is active in Georgia and counts “racial equity” among its 11 program areas. Learn more.
Webinars from GCN
Below, find three webinars put together by GCN to assist in the practical application of DEI work.