Every once in a while, folks in our sector make lists highlighting experts and resources they think are great. “25 Fundraising Experts You Should Follow.” “20 Books on Leadership That Should Be on Your Reading List.” Etc.

I appreciate the effort that it takes to make these lists, as they can be helpful. However, if you’ve made such a list and published it, just know that the first thing many people will do is scan to see the demographics information. And even to this day, many of these lists are glaringly white, and often full of white men.

And the responses from the mostly white colleagues on these lists are along the lines of “So honored to be among such great company!” Sometimes, a gracious colleague will name several leaders of color they recommend to also get a bit of the limelight. But more likely, there’s further recommendations of more white professionals, without much reflection or self-awareness. Yikes.

It’s not just lists though, as colleagues on LinkedIn point out. Conference speakers, podcasts, panels, etc., all still have problems with representation, despite our years of DEI training. And it’s not just the lack of diversity and inclusion, but also how we react to it that may reinforce it. All of it just shows just how pervasive white, patriarchal, ableist, neurotypical, and heteronormative systems are, to the point that many of us don’t even know that we’re perpetuating them.

So here are a few guidelines and reminders. For all of us, but especially for white colleagues:

  • Constantly check for who is missing
  • Be aware of who agrees with you
  • If you’re “included,” give feedback when it’s appropriate
  • Be thoughtful about when you should refuse engagement
  • If someone calls you out, take it graciously
  • Be intentional about who you follow and who follows you
  • “Over”-representation of people from marginalized communities is good
  • Vet people from marginalized backgrounds too
  • Reflect on whom you’re offending

Some of you may be thinking, Who cares about arbitrary, meaningless lists or one-time panels, or whether I clicked “like” on someone’s ramblings on social media or whatever, shouldn’t we be more focused on more important stuff? These small, seemingly insignificant things, when put together, because they are ubiquitous everyday occurrences, have tremendous power to perpetuate many of the inequitable systems we are addressing as a sector.

Read the full article about fighting non-inclusion in the social sector by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.