Spotlight stories like “The Secret to Retaining a Diverse Workforce
” that tokenizes a Black leader by focusing on his athleticism as a basketball player (no, we’re not making this up) while diminishing the hard work it took for him to earn an offer at your firm.
Look at the level of transparency Annie E Casey Foundation
and Ford Foundation
use in talent data analysis, and apply a similar lens in your work. Review and integrate insights from the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ Exit Interview
, which outlines why Black staff leave grantmaking institutions, into your organization’s plan to build a more inclusive culture.
“Inclusion, not assimilation” as powerfully stated in New School’s Venture Fund’s study,Unrealized Impact
An inclusive workplace culture is characterized by the full integration of a diverse set of staff members into an organization with a climate of respect and positive recognition of differences. In contrast, organizational cultures that require assimilation open their doors to people of color without shifting away from white dominant culture, policies, norms, decision-making, communication, or power structures…increasing diversity while still requiring assimilation into a white dominant culture does not achieve the organizational benefits of diversity.
Move from an assimilation mindset to a participation mindset
(immigrant context specifically). Understand that if you’re not open to shifting the dominant way of thinking, talking, behaving, and dressing at work, you’re probably asking the people of color in your organization to “cover
” aspects of their identity and assimilate to white culture
. If your team has already developed a shared language on race and privilege, use this tool
to help individuals check white privilege, and use this game
to check entitlement in your organization.
Do a compensation audit to identify disparities by race. Intel does it for race and gender as part of its annual performance process
. Use the Racial Wealth Audit
, developed by Brandeis’ Institute on Assets and Social Policy and Demos, to consider how your organization’s policies, programs and governance structure may drive race-based disparities. If you are a grantmaker, review the Council on Foundations’ 2018 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report
to benchmark data on salary, race/ethnicity and gender.
Pose seemingly innocuousquestions and make assumptions that erode trust
and chip away at organizational culture on a macro-level while diminishing the health of people of color on a micro-level. To be clear on what a microaggression is (so you don’t commit one), they have been defined by Columbia University psychologists as:
brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative… slights and insults.
Play the educational game Killing me Softly
, developed by the City University of New York, to learn what microagressions are, and how white people and people of color can address them.
Create a more culturally responsive organization by using a self assessments tool
to level set where you are currently. Remember that doing an assessment is just the first
step to beginning the work of building a Race Equity Culture
has a quiz that philanthropic organizations can use to identify resources to advance their inclusion and equity work.
explain or comment on something in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner, from the perspective of the group one identifies with, thereby clearly exhibiting their own bias.
Do not co-opt language, movements and struggles of people of color while ignoring the histories and lived experiences of people of color. It is one of the most efficient ways of losing credibility with people of color by undermining their (often firsthand) experience.
Conquer white fragility
to overcome whitesplaining, i.e. step out of the “good/bad binary” which posits racism is conscious bias held by mean people in polos holding tiki torches to address your own feelings, thoughts and – if applicable – insecurities about race and racism. Examine how your action/inaction at work (and elsewhere) upholds white supremacy.
Review this White Ally Toolkit
to gain insight into the complexities of race and racism, and begin to develop skills that will help you intervene with that insensitive coworker (or uncle at Thanksgiving) in a way that doesn’t make either of you feel badly. Tag White Nonsense Roundup
(WNR) on Facebook when a colleague whitesplains in the comments or in a post made on behalf of your organization. WNR’s team will call out individuals contributing to structural racism, following up with resources
so they can educate themselves.
Show up at work with “the solution” to poverty, classism, racism, sexism or any other “ism” unless you’ve researched, consulted and listened to communities/people directly affected by said “isms”. Dismount and leave your white horse at the stable. I repeat: dismount immediately.
However good your intentions may be, they are incomplete at best if they are not informed by the communities and leaders impacted by your work. By either intentionally or unintentionally excluding the communities we’re hoping to impact…:
Take the advice of an international NGO executive who has learned a thing or two (the hard way) about how Western charities historically and currently portray their impact abroad:
Answer the seven questions in this Stanford Social Innovation Review article
to begin moving from a charity to a justice mindset. If you are a funder, implement recommendations from this National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blog on gentrification of movements
, and consider how you can redistribute wealth and democratize power using principles highlighted in Justice Funders’ Liberate Philanthropy
series. If you engage youth, consider integrating elements of True Colors Fund’s toolkit
to drive more participatory practice.
Compound the exhausting job of of being a leader of color in a white dominant organization by adding layers of inequity: expecting leaders of color to do more with less, appointing leaders of color as “poster children” to represent the organization at conferences, panels, and meetings while still holding them accountable to theresponsibilities within the scope of their role
Compensate and recognize leaders of color in performance reviews for theadditional labor they endure at work
: mentoring other employees of color, educating employees on “isms”, attending external facing events, leading/managing Employee Resource (or Affinity) Groups or other diversity initiatives, etc.
Adhere to the aforementioned “do’s,” and we believe engagement and retention for leaders of color in your organization will improve. Persist with the “don’ts,” and we predict that even your most dedicated, mission-driven leaders of color will have one foot out the door.