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Meaningful diversity, equity, and inclusion is a puzzle that many organizations are trying to solve.

We are in a political moment where organizations are looking to increase their investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Predictably, these initiatives often involve looking at hiring practices, particularly recruitment and retention of staff of color. And while it is important to examine practices at all stages, many organizations get caught up in hiring and recruitment and drop the ball on retention and promotion. Worse still, they may never examine the relationship between retention and organizational culture.

The focus on recruitment and hiring makes sense: the fixes are concrete, tangible, and fairly easy to implement so long as you are serious about it. To the extent that fostering relationships with diverse organizations and schools can be effective, it will be. But a focus on recruitment and hiring will not in and of itself solve an organization’s diversity problem. …


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Photo by Ewan Robertson on Unsplash.

Many companies have moved online and, unfortunately, so have the microaggressions, bias, and flagrant displays of privilege. And as organizations are awakening to their own internal racism, it is even more important that leaders be proactive in the prevention of bias and microaggressions in the virtual workplace. These microaggressions can include everything from comments or behaviors that are insensitive and demeaning to those that invalidate or dismiss the thoughts and experiences of a person or group based on some aspect of their identity.

Online settings can be ripe for hostility, since it may be harder to pick up social cues that would normally be available in person. For example, a Black employee mistaken for another Black employee may be able to give you a confused or annoyed look in person, whereas in the virtual workplace Black colleagues consistently tagged by mistake on Slack cannot give a similar nonverbal cue. But not all is lost. Virtual workplaces offer the opportunity to literally watch your -isms. And as organization leaders, it is important that you make sure that you are curating a virtual work environment where people can thrive. …


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Voters who vote using absentee ballots often have their ballots verified by matching their signature to their voter record. Automating this process may risk disenfranchisement for the most vulnerable voters, and should be avoided at all costs.

With the ongoing public health threat of COVID-19, officials are scrambling to figure out how to administer a general election during a pandemic. With expected increases in the use of absentee ballots (also referred to as vote-by-mail), election officials and vendors alike are preparing to scale up. And if recent elections are any indication there is a lot to prepare for. Both Georgia and Wisconsin each saw more than 1.1 million voters cast absentee ballots in recent primaries. But just as quickly as states figure out how to accommodate absentee ballot requests, they will need to figure out how they will process these ballots. …


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Finally awakened to the lived reality of racism and white supremacy in this country, organizational leadership everywhere is scrambling to figure out how to chart a new course on equity and inclusion. In response to the (very) many corporate statements, Black staff and consumers have been skeptical about the sudden conscience and “wokeness” of their employers … and for good reason. A 2019 survey found that 42% of employees had witnessed or experienced racism in the workplace.

While organizational culture and racial climate in some organizations merely suffers from benign neglect, the reality is that many ‘leaders’ have turned a blind eye to the havoc that the Karens and Amy Coopers of the world have been wreaking on Black and Brown staff for years. …


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A man carries a sign reading “People Over Property” at a protest.

George Floyd was murdered after being falsely accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill. In response unarmed community members have taken to the street in protest of Floyd’s death and take a stand to remind people that Black lives matter. In the wake of these protests, many cities have seen property damage and “looting.”

The accusation of passing a counterfeit bill is significant. Having previously worked in retail, including assets protection, for almost 6 years prior to law school, I have seen first-hand how racism intersects with perceptions of poverty in these accusations. …


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Not all money is good money. Candidates should pledge

People are awakening to the truth that police in the United States hold too much power. Law enforcement unions have long been in staunch opposition of meaningful criminal legal reform. Their political influence, especially at the state and local levels, is a well-known impediment to even the most mundane progress.

The only way to remedy this is to consciously fight to decrease both their power and their footprint. Demands of the recent uprisings have included widespread calls to defund the police — specifically, to divest from law enforcement agencies and to invest in community well-being and public safety solutions. …


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Protesters hold signs during an action at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on May 31, 2020.

With police rioting in cities across the United States in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and more, we are in a moment that the United States has not seen in over a generation. Black people across the country are currently fighting a battle on two fronts: against a virus that is disproportionately killing Black people and against a system of white supremacist state-sanctioned violence targeting Black people.

As explained ad nauseam, the nonprofit industry is steeped in white supremacy. Social justice nonprofits have long played roles as dual agents propping up the system while purporting to fight for justice for Black people long abused by that same system. Worse yet, many nonprofits — via their (largely white) leadership — have failed to recognize this fundamental hypocrisy. While this conundrum will not be resolved overnight, this is a moment of reckoning for social justice nonprofits to clarify their role in history and the struggle against racism and white supremacy. …


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An equity lens could be the missing piece of the puzzle for your organization to move through the pandemic with its values intact.

Coronavirus has laid bare the fault lines of inequality that have propped up our society. Nonprofits and mission-driven organizations have never been immune to the influence of racism and white supremacy within organizational culture, and staff have long lived through inequities within organizations even while fighting to rid them from the world. For many employees, the work is already heavy and the current reality and has just amplified the pressure.

Recognizing this, many of these organizations have recently begun “equity journeys” where they focused on transforming to be more inclusive and center race equity in both internal operations and external work. Indeed, surveys of nonprofit staff have identified systemic issues within organizations as being significant barriers to the success and longevity of staff of color. From board diversity to organizational leadership, there are significant racial gaps across the nonprofit sector. By focusing on race equity, organizations have been taking a critical look at other inequities such as gender and class. …


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In case we didn’t realize just how much elections matter, coronavirus has made that clearer than ever. This election-year pandemic has put political leadership, or the lack thereof, on full display as people look to elected officials for guidance during the nation’s coronavirus response. And where the federal government has largely fumbled a coordinated response in the United States, we have seen Black elected officials rising to the challenge.

This is a moment of reckoning for our nation, and for the Democratic Party. During a crisis where Black people are disproportionately on the front lines and dying, our nation needs to look no further than Black elected officials for lessons on how to engage and represent Black voters. Even as state and federal responses have picked up, it has been Black mayors who are at the forefront boldly acting to save lives and provide relief for their residents at the local level, and Black congressional leaders pushing bold structural policies at the federal level. …


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Elections matter. And since the onset of COVID-19 people have been rightly concerned about how best to hold elections during a pandemic. The conundrum — and framing — has revolved around the choice voters must make between their health and their constitutional right to vote. Much attention has been given to either the actions of governors and state-level officials, or the preferences of voters. Considering voter behavior and experience is critical, but we also need to address preparation by county election officials as well.

To be ready for the November general election, election officials must take action now. There have been visible partisan divides over the use of vote-by-mail, but that is only part of the challenge this Fall; election officials need to make sure that they can service voters and provide in-person options to handle what may be record-breaking turnout. The power of county election officials varies from state to state, but there are various internal tasks that officials can begin now in anticipation of a changing electoral landscape. The following are 5 steps that election officials, administrators, or clerks can take now to prepare for November. …

About

Portia Allen-Kyle

Civil Rights Attorney. Strategist. Translating vision to action at FuturaBold (www.futuraboldllc.com).

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