The face of America is changing-and rapidly. In light of dramatic shifts in ethnicity, disability, educational attainment among women, LGBT equity, etc., philanthropy needs to ask itself the following question:
Is the field of philanthropy currently positioned speak with authority about its impact on increasingly diverse and complex communities and networks at the local, regional and national levels?
The answer is no according to the D5 Coalition. This is a five year effort begun in 2010 focused on growing philanthropy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Coalition envisions “a sector in which foundations draw on the power of diverse staffs and boards to achieve lasting impact, forge genuine partnerships with diverse communities, and increase access to opportunities and resources for all people.”
In interviews with the leadership of the American Express Foundation, The Baltimore Community Foundation, Access Strategies Fund and Silicon Valley Community Foundation the D5 Coalition unearthed 12 important statements on diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) and philanthropy:
- Determine how DEI is critical to accomplishing your mission
- Ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of your DEI philosophy
- Be strategic about launching DEI work; i.e. have buy-in, champions and accountability
- Institutionalize DEI into grantmaking criteria
- Influence other funders and donors to advance equity
- Support peers in addressing challenges to equity work; i.e. share lessons learned/best practice
- Develop mechanisms for accountability
- Create a reputation for DEI work through transparency
- Collect and distribute your data around DEI work
- Use population-specific organizations to expand your DEI work
- Review and modify organizational policies and practices to encourage diverse leadership
- Adopt policies and practices through which the talents of all people are respected in the workplace
Questions For You
Based on the above as a guide, how prepared is your organization to address DEI. This can start with an internal scan by asking:
- Is DEI reflected philosophically, organizationally and operationally within our organization?
- Does our workplace culture value and exhibit DEI in both formal AND informal ways?
- Has our organization clearly and consistently communicated with the grant seeking community and other key stakeholders about our longitudinal commitment to DEI work?
Our communities, neighborhoods, and personal and professional networks (both locally and nationally) are becoming ever more diverse and complex. The outstanding question is whether philanthropy is positioned internally and sufficiently forward facing on DEI to make investments that reflect emergent and fluid shifts in demographics, LGBT inclusion, women’s issues, etc.
Much to think about!
As always, be focused on knowledge, innovation and impact!
John Patrick Bailey, Ph.D.