Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access: Our First Steps on a Long Road
Recently, the Third Sector Company convened a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access (DEIA) Strategy Task Force with the purpose to bring awareness to definitions and agreements in our community around social justice and freedom from oppressive conditions in the United States present since the country’s beginnings.
Bringing years of nonprofit leadership experience, the team is currently comprised of Senior Strategists Syd Fredrickson, Tricia Lazzar, and Heyward Watson.
The first step was drafting an equity statement to be discussed and approved by senior leadership at Third Sector Company. The Equity Statement has been enthusiastically accepted by the community of collaborators and now informs our organizational culture. It reads:
Third Sector Company, Inc. is committed to advancing diversity, inclusion, equity, and access as foundational to its programs. We acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all people; and we pledge our individual and organizational efforts to build respect, dignity, caring, and equitable treatment for all. As an organization, we are committed to transforming the world into one that promotes social justice and freedom from oppression, including but not limited to, racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, and ableism. Thus, we aim to be adaptable, actively anti-racist, embracing cultural differences, and to be accessible for people who are differently resourced and differently-abled.
The DEIA Strategy Team acknowledges that this is just the beginning of its full awareness of the DEIA arena, but it was important to start out with an open discussion among senior leaders to understand how the DEIA definitions were formulated, which has provided more understanding among the entire community of collaborators.
“DEIA issues will continue to present a deep, gradual learning experience for us all,” says the DEIA Strategy Team, “because these issues mean different things to different people.”
Admittedly, the goal is not having all the answers to societal challenges in the DEIA arena. “Not even close,” says the DEIA Strategy Team. But as the DEIA arena continues to evolve there is a commitment by the Third Sector Company community of collaborators to be adaptable in an effort to honor a fundamental commitment to contribute to the transformation of the nonprofit world into a space that demonstrates respect and equitable treatment for all.
The next step was to put these DEIA values into action.
Listening to the advice of the DEIA Strategy Team, Third Sector Company will make participation in its Interim Executives Academy and Board Chairs Academy accessible to as many people as possible through the use of financial scholarships.
The scholarship awards are for those who traditionally have been unable to attend these courses. Anyone who feels they may need assistance, financial or otherwise, can apply. However, there are a limited number of scholarships available per training series.
Conversations about DEIA are continuing with the DEIA Strategy Team sharing new resources and articles for discussion at the start of every senior team meeting helping to bring further awareness (in ourselves and within our own communities) about topics such as microaggressions, anti-racism advocacy, and how people are made to feel invisible by assumptions or oversights. We also discuss ways we might help other organizations recognize implicit bias in their nonprofit organizations, and work to eliminate its impacts.
Further, the greatest assurance of continuing social justice work and freedom from oppression is coming in the months ahead with the U.S. election.
To this, with the guidance of our DEIA values, we strongly support every qualified citizen’s right to vote; thus we urge you to get out and vote this fall.
Third Sector Company is just at the beginning of its full awareness of the DEIA arena and will continue to analyze and to understand what actions are available for us to keep accountable to our equity statement and the work of the communities and causes we serve. It is a long road ahead, but we are committed to taking the next steps.
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