By: Alyson Weiss
As an all-volunteer organization, we know how difficult it can be to carve out time and allocate resources to serve your mission, fund your work, and keep the lights on. It may sound impossible to add one more thing, even something as noble as Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work.
If this resonates with you, we encourage you to shift your perspective of EDI from an ‘extra’ initiative to a crucial strategic priority that upholds and enhances every aspect of your work. Some of the ways that EDI can benefit the work of organizations include, but are not limited to:
- Staff whose demographics reflect the demographics of the clients they serve may bring a more complete understanding to their meetings that allow their appointments to be more impactful.
- Inclusive facilitation techniques and cultural competency can increase the effectiveness of collaboration between colleagues, and allow new perspectives to be introduced.
- An understanding of the systemic context that your organization’s mission operates in can give your work more long-term benefits for your clients.
- Board members with diverse backgrounds and experiences can expand your organization’s network, and expose you to new funding opportunities and other partnerships.
In conclusion, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are not extra. It’s central to everything we do, and central to the success of the nonprofit sector to tackle society’s most pressing social problems.
To make progress on these values, YNPN Boston took the following steps in one year:
1. Assemble a team of champions. After outlining clear expectations for the commitment, we asked at least one representative from each of our teams to join an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee for one year.
2. Create a shared Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion vision. By making the case for why EDI matters at our organization, sharing standard definitions for the terms, and writing tangible mission-based goals and strategies, we were able to ensure that every member of the organization was aligned on our EDI priorities, and actively working together to move towards achieving them.
3. Assign key action steps. Utilizing a curriculum that prioritized inclusive facilitation techniques, each team set 1-2 tangible goals in their functional area that they would commit to achieving in the next year to make progress on the EDI priorities outlined in the vision. This also ensured that EDI did not happen in a silo in the organization.
4. Fill gaps in knowledge. We revisited our vision and assigned key action steps to identify the training opportunities that stood to make the most impact and serve the largest internal constituency.
5. Measure, rinse, repeat. This year, we plan to evaluate our work to discover the unexpected successes, challenges, and opportunities. Based on our discoveries, we will adjust our work plan (or rinse), and continue making progress on our EDI priorities (repeat).
We hope that the case study of how YNPN Boston approached the work will help, and we encourage you to ‘steal’ and / or modify any of the resources linked to throughout this series. However, do not feel restricted to the structure, process, or methods we used. You know your organization best, and you will know what will make the most impact in that context.
We can’t wait to continue the work at YNPN Boston. And we can’t wait to hear from you as you make your organization, and the nonprofit sector as a whole, a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive space to work.