Community, Nonprofits and Businesses sharing Information
January 30, 2020
While diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI as the terms are collectively known, are discussed at almost every philanthropic gathering, what accompanying action is needed? Are these the building blocks destined to historically reshape the foundation playing field? Or are they just the latest foundation fig leaf for inequitable practices that started with the birth of the paternalistic, charity mindset?
“We have to be honest about the sources of wealth and how wealth was accumulated in this country—a great part of it was on the backs of people of color, and now those communities are benefiting from just a very small percentage of dollars,” writes Edgar Villanueva, a respected expert on social justice philanthropy. “Once you know, how can you not be equitable about how you’re distributing the money?”
The two of us have engaged in a series of cohort-based learning efforts with foundations of differing budget sizes, funding priorities, geographic areas of focus, and leaders on almost every level of a foundation organizational chart. Since last year, we have engaged foundation presidents and CEOs through the Presidents’ Forum on Racial Equity. These leaders, whose foundations control 15 percent of all US philanthropic assets, have participated in a series of in-person sessions and webinars that center racial equity in their professional development. As one participant said, “I’m trying to understand my own white privilege from a foundation where we are the recipients of extreme white privilege.”
The following are six leadership imperatives (and guidance for navigating them) for leaders who want to lead in ways that center racial equity and justice...