How Can You and Your Organization Move Beyond Words Toward Greater Inclusion? 5 Beginner Strides in a Million-Step Journey
The exercise was simple. Divide into groups of three. Two people talk and exclude the third person who seeks to join the conversation.
I chatted with Ginny. Clarence pushed to join us. He reminded me of a child begging for attention—he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The more he asked for “in,” the stronger my conviction that I possessed something of value with Ginny. My brain fired belonging and power, and it felt good.
I became the would-be-joiner. Clarence and Ginny chatted.
I approached and said, “Hi.”
They nodded and continued their conversation, slowly moving shoulder-to-shoulder, placing their backs toward me.
After a few more half-hearted attempts to join them, embarrassed and vulnerable, I stepped back. With my arms folded over my chest, I waited for the leader to call time.
Real Life Now
In the past weeks, you encountered a barrage of words and images about equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Some are searingly beautiful. Perhaps you wrote the statement now posted on your nonprofit’s website front page.
Words are important, and the process of writing words—when it involves searching your soul—useful.
Yet, words no matter how prominently posted won’t suffice.
You seek action. You want change. You might even be ready to change.
It is not just police brutality that brings about pain. The behavior of good people, who forget what it’s like to an outsider, cause it, too.
If you share my Anglo background–you were regularly fitted with a virtual reality headset. Adjusting the focus allowed us not to see. It convinced us, we weren’t participating in an unfair system based on race.
If you were from the North, like I am, the problem was those terrible people down in Alabama and Mississippi. (If you’re from the South, roll your eyes here.)
No matter where we are from, our virtual reality headsets fit so well we didn’t know we wore them. That is until the video of George Floyd’s death blew the sets off.
We see the tip of the iceberg.
Five Beginner Strides in a Million-Step Journey
This article has already extended beyond my five-minute goal reading. I hope you will indulge me a few minutes more to read some brief recommendations on what you might do to make manifest the words posted on so many websites.
1. See More
For a decade, you’ve answered questions about diversity in a positive light, often to get funding. Instead of doing it for others, assess yourself for your leadership. Where have you been successful? What’s falling short? Where have you said, “hi,” and turned your back to outsiders? When have you been accessible? How will you build on your success?
2. Establish a Baseline
Run some numbers: how diverse is your board, staff, customers, and volunteers?
3. Become a Student
Watching and reading lists abound. As you study, review what other nonprofits are doing. (If you’d like my recommendation on a list of what to watch, read, or nonprofits to consider, email me.)
4. Establish a Strategy, Specific Goals, and Methods
Improving diversity has been on the radar of nonprofits for decades. Either your current strategy works or its time to design a new way to win. Once your strategy’s set, establish your targets and plan your tactics.
You can do it. While you won’t change 400 years of history tomorrow, you can change you. Let me know how it goes.
Would you like to know more about constructing a strategy to meet diversity or other goals? If yes, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help you create your master plan so you can achieve more of your mission.