In October, Equity in the Center hosted their 2018 Summit in Baltimore where they presented their research from Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture by highlighting organizations that were successfully building a race equity culture and the leaders driving that work.
Focused on shifting mindsets, practices and systems within the social sector, Equity in the Center envisions a future where nonprofit and philanthropic organizations advance racial equity both internally and externally. This mission was the centerpiece of the summit as highlighted by guest speaker Edgar Villanueva, VP at the Schott Foundation and author of Decolonizing Wealth, when he said, “The best way for foundations to learn about racial equity is to fund it.” He further emphasized that the only way for foundations to fully understand equity work was to do it themselves, instead of relying on research and external experts.
Leaders in the field shared stories of success and progress. In addition, funders shared strategies for lifting up the perspectives of the communities they work with to combat stereotypical narratives through storytelling and data analysis that show the long-term effects of unequitable policies.
As our sector works with communities, organizations need to internally assess how they can increase equity by using methods such as board diversification strategies and blind hiring practices. Several of the featured speakers told the story of how their organizations used these tools to create more equitable workplaces. Some of these and similar ideas were shared earlier this fall at Valuing Our Workforce: How the Nonprofit Sector Can Support Millennials of Color in Boston.
Continually centering internal equity work is essential. This need is reflected by the racial leadership gap in our sector. (Read about our own findings in Wage Equity Matters, a detailed look at nonprofit race, gender, salary and benefits in New England). Ensuring that social justice values are reflected in our organizations will help us better collaborate with communities and amplify our organizational missions.
Personally, as a young professional of color, I found it encouraging to hear so many stories of progress, especially coming from other people of color in leadership positions. I discovered new tools to promote equity in my work and was reminded that anyone can perpetuate the white supremacist culture that needs to be dismantled. I was challenged by the need to hold myself accountable for the continual self-reflection and learning needed to move us forward.
Get Involved with Equity in the Center
Equity in the Center works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Find out how you can find out more about their work:
Cate Reynolds is TSNE MissionWorks' Learning and Evaluation Coordinator.