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DEI Work Demands a Cultural Shift. Are You Ready?

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work is critical for our collective future, whether for an established for-profit corporation or a nonprofit start-up. Recently, I have worked with for-profit and nonprofit organizations broadening their focus in this arena and specifically assisting with the Minority-owned Business Enterprise Certification process. My work within the DEI space has guided organizations by applying actionable steps to understanding unconscious bias and historical systemic issues to begin the cultural shift of behaviors.

I’ve heard some people say, “I’m not a racist and the tragedy of the past 400 years was not my doing.” They very much disown the problem, with almost an offensive tone. While their statement may be true, it is not the mentality that will move organizations, communities, or the country forward. My analogy is this - if you pass someone who is hungry or homeless, do you look the other way because their food or home was not taken away by your hands? If you purchase a building that has been grandfathered from ADA compliance, do you fail to put in place the necessary upgrades because people with physical challenges did not get that way at your doing?

If we continue to allow the suffering of certain affinity groups, we become the problem. So, yes, the 400 years of inequity, the homeless and the hungry, and the physically challenged may not have been as a result of your hands, but it is through your hands, your work, your efforts that it can change.

This means more than including a public statement on your LinkedIn company profile, or impressive words on your website. It means taking tactical actions that can be measured. It necessitates specific goals that trickle down from the board to the executive leadership to the part-timers on payroll. Everyone has a role in improving who we are as an organization and as a nation. For starters, consider these courses of action to incorporate in company operations.

  • Creating equitable hiring practices

  • Increasing BIPOC representation

  • Hiring diversity experts

  • Offering DEI training

  • Supporting pay equity audits

  • Increasing diversity in products and marketing

  • Diversifying vendors

By taking concrete steps to foster inclusion, not just as checkbox activities, but inculcated in your organization is the first step in becoming an inclusive leader.

Do you want to learn more? Contact us at Simplify Nonprofit and we’ll take your thoughts into action. We can teach you how to hold yourself and those you work with accountable for meeting the goals you set.

Jo Ann Short


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