What does diversity mean for your organization?

Any goals toward diversity, equity, and inclusion should drive your processes and practices. We recently sat down with a panel of community representatives who shared lessons and anecdotes from their own work in this space.

Here are just a few takeaways from our conversation about Applying DEI Practices in Nonprofits:

1 – Use person-first language. If you are in doubt when using asset-based language, identify the person first – someone as a “person who.” For example, “a person who uses a wheelchair” rather than restrictive language like “wheelchair bound” or “confined to a wheelchair.”

2 – DEI is always a moving target. We can accomplish our goals, but always remember there is continual progression and growth toward the benchmarks that we want to achieve in our communities.

3 – Be compelling but be respectful. Use language that is normalizing and humanizing. Words such as diseased, at-risk, abnormality are not positive (or even neutralizing) words.

4 – Be specific. If you haven’t fully defined your goals in diversity, equity and inclusion, start! Specifically determine your goals, and the criteria of each, in a strategic plan. Panelist Crystal Houston identified the EOS Model as an ideal way to clearly identify and communicate key visions and goals across her team.

5 – People do not consider disability when they consider diversity. Beyond considering the asset-based language being used by your organization, also consider the physical structure of your program spaces and events. For example, different heights of tables are very “in” at events – but they are not always inclusive!

6 – Build an inclusive pipeline. How are you recruiting for new positions in your organization? In order to “bake” inclusion into your team structure, it’s important to engage with all communities when your company or organization has open opportunities. Simply posting a position will not yield a diverse selection of candidates.

7 – Consider the person as a whole when you’re recruiting for a diverse team, whether it’s staff or board. Too often, we jump from “we don’t have enough youth!” or “we have one person of color!” and allow that to influence decisions. There are actually questions we should be asking about the person themselves before any criteria is made the focus.

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out the recording here.

We’d like to thank the following individuals for joining to share their expertise as panelists:

Jocelyn Dettloff – Mary Free Bed Foundation

Crystal Houston – Bethany Christian Services

Steven Hernandez – Flagstar Bank

This content was shared at the September 2022 Kennari Consulting Roundtable, titled “Applying DEI Practices in Nonprofits”. Watch the recording of the program here.

Click here to learn more about Roundtables and other upcoming events.