5 Views Nonprofits Share with the Lily White Oscars 2/1/2016 by Cassandra Hayes 1. You are not the only organization that is unknowingly, blissfully, comfortably, ignorant of our own biases. You join Tech, Legal, Education, Finance, Engineering, Construction, Agriculture, Healthcare… I could go on, but you get the idea. These industries are also 80 - 90% White. 2. You don’t accept the reality of institutional racism, so it’s not your responsibility to address it. And why should you? YOU didn’t own a slave, intern a Japanese civilian, trick an entire Indigenous population… I could go on, but you get the idea. And as long as you’re the Exec Director, Board Chair, HR Director, etc. …why should YOU rock the boat? 3. Realize it’s not just a Black thing; it’s an Asian thing, a Hispanic thing, an Indian thing, a Woman thing, a Gay thing…I could go on, but you get the idea. How many amazing, creative, unique solutions to your bottom line existed, but you never heard, because speaking and more importantly, LISTENING to folks who don’t look like you, is just too uncomfortable? How many dollars slipped through your hands because your white development director never thought to approach a Hispanic or Black Donor? 4. Diversity requires egocentric, inspired, and courageous leadership from the top to make change. Egocentric? Yes, because your process SHOULD start from: What’s best for my organization? What phenomenal ideas will diverse cultures bring to the table that will make me look like a genius for having hired them? Inspired? Definition: “imbued with the spirit to do something, as if by divine influence...” Wow. Isn’t inspiration exactly what we want to instill in our donors, volunteers, board members, staff and anyone connected with our organization? Courageous? Yeah, we all know it takes courage to effect change. To expose, examine, and confront the lunacy of the status quo and address the lack of diversity in our nonprofits is a scary prospect, and not for the “faint of heart”. I could go on, but you get the idea. But like the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the kind of structural and fundamental transformation our organizations must undergo, require not only acknowledgement of the problem but creative, immediate and urgent action from our leaders. 5. There are acts of courage you can take right now… Amend bylaws to mandate diversity in a reasonable percentage of your board…a strategic plan outlining intentional recruitment and hiring of minority executive directors, development officers, grant writers and administrative personnel; volunteer leaders who reflect your constituency and community. The philanthropic community, like the Oscars, is not immune from prejudice, ignorance, inertia, or apathy. And like the Academy, we must charge our leaders to be the architects of this important change. I could go on, but you get the idea.