A few months ago, I was talking at a conference about what race, equity, diversity, and inclusion look like in every day practices. “These concepts have been like coconut water,” I said, “everyone’s drinking them after hot yoga. But how are we actually changing our hiring, communications, board governance, evaluation, fundraising, and other areas?”

After my presentation, a colleague raised her hand. “My organization does not focus on social justice,” she said. “We address cancer, which does not discriminate; it affects every one of all races. How are these concepts applicable to my organization?”

To put it simply: race, equity, diversity, and inclusion affect ALL nonprofits, and thinking your org is exempt indicates a level of privilege and lack of awareness that may be detrimental to the work. No matter what your organization’s mission is, you still need to think about these things:

  • Disproportionality of impact:  Chances are, whatever issue your organization is tackling, there will be racial, gender, disability, and other elements affecting it.
  • Inequitable access to services: I often see this self-reinforcing cycle where services are inaccessible to people of different races and ethnicities, which then leads the organization to believe their clients are naturally a particular demographic, such as white, so they target outreach and services to that particular group, which then makes the services inaccessible to people of different races and ethnicities.
  • Root causes of injustice:  There are now lots of research linking racism to issues like poverty and hunger. To deny that these root causes are relevant and to say something like “race doesn’t really affect my organization; we only care about feeding kids” is to choose a level of willful ignorance that is counterproductive to the work.

Read the full article about race, equity, and inclusion by Vu Le at GuideStar.