Who holds power? Who defines the 'we' of an organization? Let's talk racial equity - Generocity Philly

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Aug. 12, 2019 8:51 am

Who holds power? Who defines the ‘we’ of an organization? Let’s talk racial equity

In the next few weeks you will see stories from our freelancers looking at philanthropy, social impact investing, community development, and education and arts through the lens of racial equity.

What nonprofits are embracing racial equity? Which operational and developmental practices lead to equity? We aim to find out.

(Photo by Christina Morillo for Pexels)

DEI — diversity, equity, inclusion — is on every organizational radar these days.

But if the acronym is a formula, two of its variables — diversity and inclusion— are the more readily understood. Sulaiman Rahman, founder of DiverseForce, manages to explain them with one pithy sentence: “Diversity is counting heads. Inclusion is making sure the heads count.”

Equity — which ensures fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement while eliminating barriers that have traditionally kept certain groups from power (or even a seat at the table) — is thornier. “If you bring out a checklist,” says Sidney Hargro, executive director of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, “that’s not equity.”

Unlike diversity and inclusion, which are largely addressed interpersonally, equity — particularly racial equity — demands to be addressed institutionally.

That means that in addition to learning how to incorporate a racial equity lens into organizational policies and procedures, nonprofits working on equity will have to grapple with issues of language, intersectionality, power dynamics, unconscious bias and anti-blackness.

  • Which Philadelphia organizations are working intentionally to advance racial equity?
  • How are they confronting the challenges of history, tradition and structural racism?
  • What methods and tools are they successfully using?
  • What deliberate systems or supports have they put in place to sustain racial equity?
  • Is it too early yet to see a comprehensive set of “best practices”?

In the next few weeks you will see stories from our freelancers  looking at philanthropy, social impact investing, community development, and as well as education and arts through the lens of racial equity. We’ll have interviews with local leaders and columns that explore various aspects of racial equity that nonprofit leaders (Hargro, Markita Morris-Louis, Elicia Gonzalez, Greg DeShields, Nikia Owens and Cory Donovan) discussed with us at our Power Breakfast in June, including:

From our Partners

  • Creating succession
  • The challenge of level setting
  • Reallocation of resources
  • The uses of discomfort

As always, we welcome your input! Let us know which organizations we should look at, which leaders you want us to interview through the racial equity lens, as well as which tools you or your organization have found effective in this work.

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