A year ago, Global Impact said Black Lives Matter. We acknowledged some of our shortcomings and promised to better address diversity and inclusion within the organization. We committed to take action toward racial justice as individuals and a work community. Looking at the steps we outlined, it feels good to say that we have acted on each goal and continue to prioritize these ongoing action items.
As we celebrate Juneteenth and its designation as a federal holiday this week, we’re reflecting on our progress through the work we’ve done and continuing to chart our path forward.
As a leader in global philanthropy, partnering with other organizations that prioritize racial justice is important to our mission. Our Charity Alliance is doing critical work to further racial and social justice in the international space, so we collected resources for readers to engage with here in the U.S., abroad, and with their kids. Fiscal sponsor clients like The Initiative are addressing systemic police violence and helping build community policing models. And for our workplace campaign partners, Global Impact offers support for employee resource groups looking to learn about how our charity partners are addressing intersectional challenges, like racial equity, at a global scale.
The Diversity Action Team
One of Global Impact’s main commitments was to establish “a diverse committee of staff to look closely at our organization and identify areas to strengthen our organizational approach to racial justice.” With that, we launched the Diversity Action Team. The group has been tasked with evaluating policies, practices and procedures through a diversity and inclusion lens. We established a new internal channel for dialog and resource sharing between colleagues on everything from bystander intervention training to books and articles on racial equity in philanthropy. Through this channel, we have begun celebrating culture and heritage months like Black History Month, Asian American and Pacific Islander Month, and Pride Month.
The Diversity Action Team also constructed a new Organizational Diversity Statement and helped establish a more inclusive holiday policy. In addition to the fixed, companywide holidays, Global Impact employees will have a set number of flex holidays that can be used for additional cultural and religious holidays they personally would like to observe. This is a simple step toward creating a workplace that celebrates and values everyone equitably.
With all of this work, and still more to come, we thought it was the right moment to share some thoughts from our Diversity Action Team. A few members have offered reflections and ideas that we are taking into this next year of diversity, equity and inclusion work.
Why is it important that an organization pays attention to racial justice?
Justice, especially racial justice, within an organization can be lacking and it is important that we evaluate and make changes where needed. I used to think a place of business was just a place for business, not for life or personal things. However, racial justice isn’t just personal – the history of racism is in everything in the U.S. and it is important for companies to be leaders when it comes to racial justice. – Stephanie Scholz, Human Resources
Our workplaces are just as intertwined in the system of white supremacy as any other institution. As an organization, we have to actively recognize our role in this system and chose to engage in these issues. It is not enough to recognize things outside our scope of work like police brutality or income inequality; we have a responsibility to say ‘this organization is a part of this too – we benefit from these power structures and want to change things.’ These conversations belong at work just as much as on the debate stage or marching on the streets. – Gillian Wagner, Campaign Engagement
Unless you’re living and working in a homogenous society, which we are not, it is important to pay attention and advocate for employees who may experience discrimination on the basis of their race. I think it is especially important for an organization to look inwards and evaluate whether they are strengthening pathways for success for employees of color. My favorite quote of 2020 coming out of a DEI panel was: you can hire Black and Brown people for things other than DEI positions. This is typically where you see an employee of color entering the C-Suite. – Elise Kambou, Partner Solutions
The racial reckoning that was sparked last summer was long overdue. I learned, along with so many others, about the ways in which systemic racism exists in our country and around the world. I am continuing to do the work to improve myself, but being part of an organization can get us so much further. By joining collectively, we can build better systems. – Erin Hessler, Marketing & Communications
How has Global Impact shifted their focus this past year?
Global Impact has created a team to highlight minorities and their achievements, as well as become "anti-racist" (active) instead of just "not-racist" (passive). – Dave Hightower, Technology Solutions
We have made an effort to talk about diversity, belonging, equity and inclusion. We communicate more about current events that impact our staff – whereas in the past, we may have seen that as ‘personal’ and made an effort not to talk about it at work. We have created a team to focus on taking action to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We have celebrated diversity more than ever with efforts to celebrate cultural heritage and history. – Stephanie Scholz, Human Resources
I am new to Global Impact, but I have seen a conscious effort to have more conversations around identity, culture and heritage that marks a real shift here. These conversations were not as common pre-2020, and I think everyone has realized that it is just as important to talk about who we are and how we feel, as it is to talk about performance targets and business goals. – Gillian Wagner, Campaign Engagement
What role can a company have in standing up for racial justice?
Being a minority, I have always been aware of my differences and the inequalities that exist against those who look like me. I think it has been easy for organizations to sit back and ignore it all until last year when we were locked down, unable to continue with our "busy" schedules and had countless videos of racial injustice spread all over the media. I think that it is important for companies to not get "too busy" to focus on racial injustice because it affects us all; employees, vendors, clients and business partners. – Lauren Martin, Finance & Accounting
Most companies have organizational habits or policies that exclude or neglect minorities. Any company can play a role in standing up for racial justice not only by making sure that diverse employees are hired, but also by listening to individual perspectives from those employees. By hearing differing points of view, the organization can know how company members are feeling and cultivate ideas for improving inclusion. – Erin Hessler, Marketing & Communications
Companies can and should use their influence and voice to stand up for racial justice in their work and the communities they serve. – Kim Gube, Campaign Engagement
Commit and walk the talk. Ensure you are addressing your structural issues to make the changes that are necessary. If your commitment is to ensure your workforce is diverse and inclusive; then review and update your HR practices and policies to assure success in this area. If your commitment is to ensure people of color have advancement opportunities just as non POC; then address your performance management framework that may systematically be excluding and providing bias against POC. If the commitment is to ensure a diverse workforce where every employee feels a sense of belonging and safety; then look at your training programs and ask are you including racial equity and diversity in that training? Companies can make focused effort to speak up, stand up, and show up. – Victoria Adams, Combined Federal Campaign
What are you most hopeful about when it comes to our racial justice journey?
I find hope that SO many people from all different walks of life have demonstrated they care about racial justice, I’m particularly heartened by our young people who are leading the way ahead for us. – Ernie Scott, Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area
On a personal level, my hope is that when I sit around a table at work, I see faces and people who reflect myself. I hope to see a multi-racial team of employees and leaders who hold some of the same values…who care about community no matter if that is local, national or international. Who believe that diversity is strength and closing the gap benefits all of us, all of our lives improve when there is racial equity. – Victoria Adams, Combined Federal Campaign
I feel like although minorities have been facing oppression and systemic injustices and basically screaming for help and equality for centuries, the lockdown during COVID-19 felt like for the first time we were given a listening ear. I am hopeful that those ears remain open to listening, learning and creating impactful change. – Lauren Martin, Finance & Accounting
Over the past year Global Impact is finally beginning to recognize the problems with race in America and organizationally, and the effect they have on people. Global Impact has begun to take steps to speak up and work on fixing these issues, and I’m cautiously hopeful this change in awareness and focus will be long term. – Richard Nightengale, Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area
What lies ahead for Global Impact?
We will continue this important work to push through roadblocks and build a safe space that fosters real change. An integral part of this will be the ongoing celebration and recognition of our colleagues’ heritage and unique backgrounds. Fostering a culture of belonging creates an inclusive work environment where everyone feels seen and respected.
The Diversity Action Team has identified other areas of growth for this next year, including collecting stronger data on the Global Impact employee experience. A staff survey will give us a sense of where to direct our efforts and ensure that everyone’s input is represented. Other actions will include continued collaboration with our Board of Directors and executive leadership team, internal training and resources sharing, and examining policies that shape the culture and diversity of Global Impact. As we continue this work, we are ready to dive into policies and actions that can better support our employees and our philanthropic mission.
We are proud of the work we have done so far and our sentiment from a year ago still stands:
We have work to do. However, we know the fight for racial justice is not just a moment in time. It needs to be a longstanding movement, and we are in it for the long haul, committed to doing the hard work until equality is truly realized.