[Guest blog] More than just words: 4 things you can do to back your organization’s DEI statement

[Guest blog] More than just words: 4 things you can do to back your organization’s DEI statement

So your Executive Director made a public statement about your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion…

Now what?

That statement needs to be more than just words.

Your staff are watching. Your board members are watching. Your “customers” are watching. Your community partners are watching. Your funders are watching.

So, what do you do now?

Here are 4 things you can do to back your organization’s DEI statement.

1. Review your organization’s policies 🔍

What’s a policy? A policy is a documented way of doing things. Your organization likely has policies related to Human Resources (e.g., hiring, onboarding, conducting performance reviews, developing staff, promoting staff, and offboarding). You may also have policies related to marketing, fundraising, and procurement.

Gather all of your policies and review them with a DEI lens. 

Do they promote diversity? Do they encourage inclusion? Are they equitable? For example, how are you are recruiting your staff? If you are recruiting from the same places and are seeing little diversity in your candidates, this may be an area you can improve. 

Ultimately, you want to identify the policies that help people feel like they belong (and celebrate those!) and identify the policies that might feel exclusionary (to update to be more inclusive). 

2. Reflect on your organization’s practices ✅

A policy represents how things should be done in your organization, but not all policies are implemented the same way. Reflect on how those policies are put into practice.

For example, are all performance reviews conducted in the same way, no matter who the supervisor is? What about career planning? 

Often, a policy is used as a guideline, but there is room for interpretation of how to implement it. This interpretation allows bias to creep in and should be kept in check.

3. Assess your organization’s perceptions 🎧

Beyond the policies and practices, the people in and around your organization will hold certain perceptions. Your policies and practices may be equitable, but if people don’t feel it, the organization will still suffer.

How do you identify perceptions? Conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews to better understand how your staff, board members, supporters, partners, and funders perceive you. Bonus if you also gather input from those who could but don’t use your services!

Review the data and identify any themes in the feedback. For positive themes, highlight those in your internal and external communications. For the themes that indicate a need for a change, start the important work to make that change happen.

4. Conduct training 🏃

Notice that this is the last item on the list. Often, nonprofits jump to training as a bandage solution, but for training to be successful, you need to know where you stand as an organization. 

You need to know that your policies and practices are equitable. You need to know that your staff perceives your organization as a place where they belong. If those things don’t hold true, you need to have a plan in place to improve. 

Only after leadership has shown a true commitment to DEI will training be successful. 

These 4 actions can help you better understand where your nonprofit organization is and where you need to go in your DEI journey, especially if you want to have a greater impact for good.

Written By

Written by
Heather Burright
Founder and CEO of Skill Masters Market.