The nonprofit sector’s focus on advancing social welfare means that we are responsible not only for implementing effective management practices, but also for holding ourselves accountable to the communities we serve. We know that board diversity improves performance and inclusive teams make better decisions. We know the value of including our communities and program participants in decision-making. Yet while references to equity, inclusion, and diversity (DEI) are seemingly everywhere, as a white executive director, I am acutely aware that nearly 90 percent of all nonprofit executive directors or presidents are white. In my field, environmental conservation and outdoor recreation, people of color hold just 12 percent of staff positions, and participants in outdoor recreation programs overwhelmingly identify as white.
Acknowledging intersectionality—the reality that we live within a system of overlapping and interdependent privileges and disadvantages—is a first step toward truly addressing DEI. But how can we make acknowledging intersectionality a practice, and not just a conversation? We can start by making relatively simple changes that center our work at the intersection of race, gender, sexual orientation, ableism, and implicit bias. Here are some practical ways to begin.
Start with systems, not individual responsibility.
Understand that not every space is for everyone.
Use power and privilege to challenge bias.
Collaborate, don’t dominate.
Re-evaluate words and images.
Follow new leaders.
Say no so that others have the opportunity to say yes.
To read more of Emily Teitsworth's article, please click here.