Two weeks ago, we made a public commitment to take clear and quantifiable action toward becoming an actively anti-racist organization. While we have already engaged in internal conversations with our team and will continue to do so, we recognize that this is just the start and that we have a long journey ahead where changes and measurable progress must be made.
This journey begins inside out as we firmly believe that our internal culture must align with our stated mission: to fight for the elimination of poverty and to advocate for expanded opportunity. We are committed to forging a better path forward by listening carefully to our stakeholders and seeking the expertise of community organizations and private sector leaders who can contribute resources to help us define and make change.
At United Way, we want to ensure we are clear about what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) means to us. For us, DEI will show unity between our board, leadership, staff, and our community. We have defined Diversity, Equity and inclusion as:
Diversity: Establishing a wealth of rich viewpoints, perspectives and opinions by ensuring that all individuals have an equal opportunity to secure employment at our company.
Equity: The intentional inclusion of everyone in society. Our goal is to make sure that all voices are heard, valued, and recognized.
Inclusion: Removing barriers that keep all employees from participating equally in the workplace.
To begin, here are some concrete steps we are taking:
- Recognizing Juneteenth (June 19th) as an official company Holiday–this year and in the years to come–to celebrate the true emancipation and freeing of black people in our country. A big thank you to team member Phil Jackson, Communications & PR Specialist, for coming up with this idea and thoughtfully suggesting how to implement Juneteenth into our United Way. Phil also volunteered to lead an information session to educate our team on the significance of Juneteenth, in which we are very appreciative of his time and energy in doing so.
- Creating an internal “Think Tank” that will be led by me with the support of McKinsey Alston, Managing Director, Talent, Culture & Organizational Effectiveness & Chenora Burkett, Chief Administrative Officer, using Living United: A Guide for Becoming a More Equitable Organization – Part 1 Workbook.
- Expanding our Diversity, Equity & Inclusive Council to support, educate and create actionable goals which will made transparent and communicated both internally and externally.
- Forming partnerships and outreach to research institutions, academia and partner organizations to identify best-practices, metrics and guidance from external experts.
Initial areas we are focusing on include, but are not limited to:
- Examining our practices around hiring and pay equity, our culture, how we treat each other, and our approaches to fund development and grant making.
- Reviewing our current governance review process and those nominated to steward and guide our work as directors to better reflect the community we serve and our mission.
- Elevating black and minority voices through internal and external platforms.
- Reviewing current investment structures and procurement practices with a lens towards addressing biases.
As we embark upon this pivotal leg of our journey, we will not want to look back on this moment and say that in the end of all that was said and done, a lot more was said than actually done.
All steps proposed will require more than words but changes that will be evident and measurable. I am personally committed and convicted to being an active part of the response to this moment that has the potential to strengthen our United Way and ultimately elevate our impact. I, and others, cannot expect black members of the team to do this for us. But we will need all of us to work together to make this change.
You can anticipate on-going communication from me, as well as our leadership team, as we continue to formalize benchmarks in which we hold ourselves accountable as stewards of racial equity.
President and CEO