Intentional Leadership - Board Governance Practices that Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (Part 2 of 2)
In part 2 of a special two-part webinar, Dr. Robin Hindsman Stacia will outline how board members can embrace the leadership imperative for engaging in DEI-focused work and governance.
Steven: Okay. Robin, I got 1:00 Eastern. Is it okay if I go ahead and get things started officially?
Dr. Robin: Yes. Go right ahead.
Steven: All right. Awesome. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Good morning if you’re on the West Coast, I should say. And if you’re watching the recording, no matter where you are, when you are, hope you’re having a good day. We are here to talk about intentional leadership. This is part two of a special two-part series that we’ve been doing on board governance practices that promote DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. If you missed part one, I’ll get you the link. Just let me know if you haven’t seen that already. But you’re going to want to watch part one after this one, for sure. But I am Steven. I’m over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.
Just a quick couple of housekeeping items, just want to let you all know that we are recording this session, and we’ll get that recording and the slides to you later on today. If you didn’t already get the sides, you might already have them from the reminder email, but if not, don’t worry, we’ll get both those things to you. So if you get interrupted or, you know, somebody, maybe a toddler, or a kid jumps in here and starts yelling at you about their school, don’t worry. We’ll get all that good stuff to you later on today.
But most importantly, we’d love to hear from you throughout the next hour or so. We’d like for these webinars to be interactive. So don’t be shy. There’s a Q&A box. There’s a chat box. So you can use either of those. Introduce yourself if you haven’t. Ask questions. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A. Our guest has been really gracious about answering questions. So we’d love to hear from you. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed if you want to send us some tweets there. We’d love to hear from you over the next hour or so.
And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just for context, if you’re wondering what the heck is Bloomerang, we are a provider of donor database software. But we love doing these webinars. We do these webinars a couple of times a week. They’re always free. It’s always educational. But if you’re interested in software, you know, check out our website. We’re pretty easy to find. You can watch all kinds of videos and learn more about us. But don’t do that right now because like I said before, I’m re-introducing, I should say, a friend of the program who gave a great presentation just a few weeks ago and she’s back for part two. Dr. Robin, how’s it going? Are you doing okay? Joining us from beautiful Cincinnati by way of Atlanta. What’s going on? Are you doing okay?
Dr. Robin: I’m doing great. And I’m glad to be back.
Steven: Yeah. I’m happy. This is one I’ve been looking forward to, not since the first presentation, although afterwards, it really increased my excitement to have you back. But I’ve enjoyed getting to know Dr. Robin over the last few months or so. Check her out over at Sage Consulting Network. You’re going to want to connect with her after the presentation, if you haven’t already, if you haven’t seen part one. She’s also a senior governance consultant over at BoardSource, which is where we got introduced and have been getting to know each other. Tons of experience, over two decades of experience in this sector. I could speak all day about her accolades and her achievements, but once you get done listening to her you’ll kind of get the picture.
So like I said, if you haven’t seen part one, just let me know in the chat. I’ll actually drop the link in the chat there for those of you who haven’t seen it. But I am excited for part two of this discussion because we’ve been covering this topic for the last few months. So over at Bloomerang we’re really passionate about it. And, Robin, obviously is very passionate about it as well. So I’ve already taken up way too much time blabbering on. So I’m going to stop sharing my slides here. And, Robin, I’ll let you bring up your beautiful slide deck. See if it’ll work. Looks like it’s working. Nice. The floor is yours, my friend.
Dr. Robin: Hi, everyone. Welcome. And I’m so glad that you’re back for part two or if this is your part one, it doesn’t matter. Whichever order you hear this, I’m hoping that it’s going to be helpful for you. So we’re going to dive in to intentional leadership, governance practices that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. You know, today’s, I really feel like objectives are important. And l know a lot of people say, “Why do you need objectives?” Because I want you to know what my intentions are for you. And hopefully these will be what you experience. I really want you from this webinar to have some sense about what it takes for you to lead and commit to strategies and solutions that are going to achieve equity. Equity is different than just doing programs as usual. It’s different than having a good heart and feeding the hungry, for example. It’s about making meaningful and systemic change. And we talked about that a lot in our first webinar. We really here want to advance leadership that boldly drives this.
So you guys on this call are either executive director, CEO, program leaders, board leaders, or you aspire to be. So you are in the position where your organization looks to you for the roadmap. And I want you to understand how to move boldly into that roadmap cause this work takes courageous work. An example of that, you know, I keep coming to this example of Colin Kaepernick, who, of course, years ago, we all know, was famous for kneeling during the football national anthem, who experienced significant ridicule even at the highest levels, from the president of the United States, if you could ever imagine that happening to you. And then this year, the first game of the football of the . . . sorry, baseball season. The Yankees were at the Nationals and when the national anthem played, both the Yankees and the Nationals lined the diamond and they took a knee. That still, for me, creates such an impact in heart about what it took for Colin to advance leadership that boldly drives. And that’s what we’re talking about.
Sometimes you’re going places where no one has gone before with your organization or with your board and sometimes you’re going places alone, but you’re going to have to go, if, in fact, you’re going to drive equity because it’s intentional. And this is the other piece I want you to get out of this today, that you are in this role to change interaction, systems, structures. You’re not in this role . . . It’s not a social job, you know. It has social perks, but you’re in this job to make a difference. And I’m proposing to you that that difference should be about ensuring racial equity, social justice, and inclusion. And so that’s what this conversation is about.
You know, a few weeks ago we had a sad occurrence in that we lost Congressman John Lewis, who happened to be my Congressman. In Atlanta, I voted for John Lewis since I’ve been in Atlanta. And I was very blessed. I couldn’t believe it when I went to the polls the first time and I was like, “Oh, my God, I get to vote for John Lewis. Are you kidding me?” So he also attended my church and he shopped at my Kroger. But I didn’t know him personally, but our lives, our paths really crossed because he was a real person.
He left us a parting letter, and I’m sure many of you have read it or you’ve heard it because it’s also audio letter out there as well, where he basically challenges us, where he says, “I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” And then he taps into us saying that we’re just ordinary people, right? And we can have an extraordinary vision that can redeem the soul of America by getting into what he calls good trouble, necessary trouble. And I know that phrase has become very popular to all of us who experienced the weeklong celebration of his life, or who’ve read any of his work. And that’s what I’m calling you to do. That’s what this work, this conversation has been about. It’s been about boards doing the bold work that you need to do.
Shifting your focus, this slide you’re on now is my kind of template slide I use all the time to help boards understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion is governance. So I’m not saying anything to you that is not appropriate for your boardroom. This is governance. Governance is leadership, and this is leadership. So it’s about weaving DEI through every aspect. So the people you have around the board table and ensuring that it is diverse and inclusive and that all voices are heard and that there’s representation from those you serve in your community, ensuring that you’ve got a culture that is open and supportive and creates an opportunity for change both within the boardroom, within your organization, your stakeholders, your partners, your vendors, ensuring that your work really is work that’s equity-driven.
Yes, there has to be charitable work. For example, right now with COVID-19, there has to be places where people can go get food and just go get food because you need food. But then there also have to be people who are working and saying, “Why is it that a certain segment of our community is so vulnerable? What has created that inequity, that they are vulnerable when a crisis, an economic downturn occurs and others are not vulnerable. And getting to the root cause of that vulnerability and driving change at that level. So there has to be both that occurs the immediate support and charitable giving, loving, and care, and the root cause, rooting out changing of systemic issues that perpetuate these kinds of disparities and inequities. And that’s where we get the impact. The impact is generational impact, it’s longitudinal impact. It’s not just, “Today, oh, you know, we’ve served 50 people in our soup kitchen,” but it’s over time, how do we change the footprint and the generational systemic footprint of those who need to come to get food from us? So that’s your job. And that’s what diversity, equity, and inclusion is about.
And I always say, and this goes back to John Lewis’ charged to us . . . This is personal work. This is intentional work and it’s personal work. And so, you know, those of you who are on the call, you have to decide if, in fact, this is your work. So it’s hard to do this kind of work if you don’t see that this means something to you and matters to you.
So I’ve given you some just thoughts here about what the personal work might look like for you. You know, whether or not you really are working towards increasing awareness that’s and understanding of how black people, indigenous people, people of color have been historically underutilized, undervalued, and marginalized. Like are you doing your own work? Are you reading? Are you talking to people? Are you watching these TED talks? Are you hearing the people who are experts in this space, try to explain and connect to you what this means?
So are you working to be more inclusive of communities that are different from yours and understanding the vibrancy of those communities? And not just in ways that we have safely done it, which is by going to cultural fairs, which are good, but by deeply getting involved, going outside of our segregated lives in order to create relationships that are meaningful by getting proximate. And Bryan Stevenson talks about this. If you haven’t read Bryan Stevenson’s work, “Just Mercy,” and he’s got several others. Just Google his name.
He talks about getting proximate. And getting proximate means not just living in our own kind of safe bubble, but as leaders in the nonprofit sector, the philanthropic sector, faith-based sector, even corporate foundation sector, understanding what the pain and the loss is for those in the communities that we serve and building the relationships and trust. And that’s what helps us to build a pathway.
So I’m not going to go through all of these suggestions, but you have to figure out what your personal journey is. And so my first question for you for the chat box is what intentional work are you doing to achieve your own personal growth? Because around the board table, we know there’s not enough time. And I tell my boards all the time, “You have to carve out time for real meaningful conversations about these kinds of issues.” They don’t . . . You know, you can’t just have a onetime conversation and think that the board is aligned, that everybody has a shared understanding because everybody is approaching this work differently. So I’m interested in knowing about your personal growth. Put that in the chat box and then we’re going to come back and take a look at some of the things that you guys are doing to equip yourselves to be able to lead on diversity, equity, inclusion, racial equity, and social justice, or other areas that are important to you.
So these are what we call leadership imperatives. And I’m going to take you through four imperatives that I want you to think about. And the first is how to be a responsible leader. It is your imperative as a leader in whatever capacity you are representing to understand and to develop what I just said regarding your personal commitment, but also your organizational commitment.
One of the first things I ask boards when I work with them is, “Do you believe that there is a shared understanding about diversity, equity, and inclusion?” First of all, just starting there. Then we get more complicated when we say, “Do you think that there’s a shared understanding and commitment to racial equity work and to social justice work?” And many don’t have that. Many feel that, you know, we’re okay with diversity, but we don’t really understand this equity and inclusion. And we don’t understand the connection of racial equity and social justice to the work that we do. And so this is going to require that you really focus on what this work means so that at the leadership level you’re to talk this talk and hopefully guide strategies and work that gets you there, because that means that you have decided to understand and believe. And this is really important, historical and current data and facts.
So, you know, there’s a lot of . . . there’s information out there where there’s debate in certain sectors about whether or not the Holocaust even happened. Can you imagine that you’re maybe a third generation Holocaust family member survivor and someone is saying, “Oh, the Holocaust didn’t happen? That’s a myth.” We have to believe historical data. We have to believe current data. They both go hand in hand to paint that holistic picture of the journey of disparities and inequities that many in our community are suffering and have suffered as a result of systemic racism, and racial inequities, and racial injustices. We have to be prepared to talk about these meanings and make sense of them for the work that you’re doing. So it’s not, again, that you go to some session like today at a webinar and then that’s it, but you continue to work on promoting these shared understandings throughout the work that you’re doing with your vendors, with your stakeholders, with your foundations, those who support you.
And then you, real importantly, as responsible leaders, you have to elevate your voice. You know, one of the things that . . . a friend of mine sent me an email saying, you know, “I think it’s time . . . ” and you’ve seen this before. I’m sure many of you for white voices to shine louder than black voices and voices of people of color because you all have been talking for so long. So we need you to elevate your voice, to describe what diversity, equity, and inclusion means to you and how you share in that understanding. That carries so much value and so much weight.
My earlier example of how powerful is it when these diverse baseball teams take a knee, it’s not just a black guy, Kilpatrick taking a knee, but it’s white guys, it’s black guys, it’s Asian guys, it’s Latino guys, it’s all kinds of guys taking a knee saying, “We share in this understanding, and this is important to us.” That’s what responsible leaders seek. So before we go to our next slide, I’m going to see, Steve, there’s any comments in the chat box about what people are doing for their personal commitment.
Steven: Yeah. There’s been a lot. There are people that are reading books, attending webinars, visiting certain museums that maybe they had never been to, to learn about maybe things that didn’t make it in their history books. That’s something that I’ve experienced for sure. Spoken candidly with the board to address these issues. Wow. Lots of really good comments here. I’ll definitely aligned with kind of the things you’re recommending too. A lot of self-education, I think, has been the theme in a lot of these.
Dr. Robin: Which is wonderful. I love how someone says here, “Reading James Baldwin,” and other black activist reading.
Dr. Robin: Yes. Love it. Love it. So the reason this is important is because we really have to feel comfortable challenging what we call white dominant ideation. And there’s no other way to put it, you know? Our society in America, even Canada, internationally, has been, for lack of another word, whitewashed, where much of our history, our data, and our information has been prepared by and presented in a way that it presents white dominant culture as the preferred and as the norm and where it presents information about people of color, typically in a lens of being deviant and less than.
So, for example, we saw this with COVID when they began to talk about the disparities of black and Latino communities being very hard hit, but no one was talking about this as because of persistent inequities. And so it made it seem, from my ears, that it was because these people are more, you know, more comorbidities, they’re heavier, they’re sicker, they’re this, they’re that. And so they’re much more likely to have a severe episode of COVID and possibly even die. Without putting that into the context of the historical marginalization of people of color in healthcare, the failure of treatment of people of color in healthcare, the lack of availability of treatment of people of color in healthcare, you don’t have the full picture of why the outcomes are poor for people of color. So we have to challenge these ideations. We have to begin to challenge these myths.
And so I have some myths that I won’t want to myth bust with you right away, because in order to be a responsible leader, you have to push back on these myths. You have to know that, in fact, our history books are 90% wrong. Now there’s a big movement to get rid of many history books in school and to introduce history books that are written by people of color, or co-written, or reviewed or approved, because we know that much of what has been taught and what is taught is wrong, and missing, and has racial disparities inherent within them.
So one of the myths I want to bust from you is the myths of personal responsibility and individualism. This is a myth that really is kind of like at the framework of the American, maybe even . . . I don’t know about the Canadian culture, but certainly white dominant culture, the believe that people control their fates regardless of their social position and that individual behavior and choice determines material outcome. So if you work hard, you make the right choices, you make the right decisions, hey, you’re going to do well.
That completely negates the true lived experiences of people who are denied job opportunities, who are not allowed to purchase homes, to aren’t able to get promotions because they’re women, or they’re people of color, or they’re immigrants. So it completely negates the fact that there are systemic pressures, barriers, laws, policies that work against people, that despite your best efforts, you’re not able to fulfill the capacity that you have. And so, therefore, this personal responsibility and individualism is a myth, and we have to push against that because when you buy into that, then, in fact, what you’re saying is those people who haven’t achieved as much as white dominant culture aren’t achieving because of some fault of their own. And in most instances, that is not the case.
The other myth I want to bust is the myth of meritocracy, and this myth basically says the belief that resources and opportunities are distributed according to talent and effort, and that social components of merit such as access to insider information or powerful social networks are of lesser importance and don’t matter. So it doesn’t matter, right? That you’re third generation college graduate from Harvard or Yale and that your family member sits on the board and that you’re a giver, that had no bearing on the fact that you got into school versus a first time college applicant from an inner city whose parents are laborers, or are day workers, or frontline workers and have no contacts whatsoever. We know that’s not true. We know that social networks, powerful networks, information, resources, insider dealing, right? Insider trading happens both in the stock market. It happens in the job market. It happens in who gets to know who, it happens across board. And so meritocracy is a myth.
So when you’re looking for board members, when you’re looking to partner with people and you have on your board composition list, we want people who have access to money. We want people who have money. What are you saying? You’re saying you want people who have benefited from a system that has allowed them insider information, powerful social networks, and that they’re able to achieve things that most people, others, maybe people of color, immigrants, first generational Americans, you name them. LGBTQ may not have access to. You have to debunk that myth.
The third myth is this myth of equal opportunity. And wow, that’s like at the framework of most everything we say, right? And there’s equal opportunity. This myth says the belief that employment, education, and wealth accumulation, arenas, are level playing fields and that no race, race has no longer a barrier to the progress in these areas. That is not true. Even though we have seen significant progress for many of black immigrant people of color in areas of employment, education, and wealth, we know that overall, by a population database, this is not the true, this is not true for the majority of people of color and people from marginalized communities. We know that employment, education, and wealth accumulation is not the same. It is not achieved the same and it is not accessible in the same way. And so we have to debunk that myth. And when you debunk these myths, then you began to look at the work that you’re doing.
And this is a slide of what we call social determinants. This goes back to my earlier example about COVID and why there are disparities in folks of color who are ill and are dying from COVID more than people who are not. And it comes to the root of the disparities of unequal access of inequitable systems and of systems that perpetuate systemic racism in division and disparities. So where you have people who live in communities where they don’t have access to all of the things that I have listed, there’s not affordable or reliable public transportation. Or they are frontline transit workers such as the guy from . . . I believe he was from Wisconsin, who was a bus driver who died of COVID after passengers refuse to wear their mask and then he contracted COVID, but he had to keep coming to work because he had to pay . . . he needed the resources to pay for his family.
You know, communities where there’s unsafe or lack of affordable and unhealthy housing. We know that historically red lining redlined black and communities of color in parts of cities where there were underground well waters that were not safe, where there’s toxic fumes coming from plants, where there’s contamination of all sorts within those communities. So we know that there has been historical, intentional design for the things that we see here to happen. And so when you believe that these things are happening, then you have to be able to say to yourselves, as a board, as leaders, “Do we choose racial equity? Is this what we want to achieve?”
And this is what racial equity looks like. It looks like when people in a society do have equal chances to reach their full potential and that there’s no more likelihood of an encounter for life’s burdens or for life benefits. So I don’t have less of a likelihood of success because of my benefits or my burden. And I like this definition because it pulls everyone into the definition. It says should not be penalized because of being of color and people who are white should not be advanced because they are white. It should be a truly equal opportunity for everyone to succeed. And that’s what racial equity is calling for.
So I’m going to pause there. This is the last slide on responsible leadership, because I’m interested in any reactions that are coming into the chat box about, you know, some of the things that I’m sharing because what we really want you to do is I really want you to work to understand how to pivot, right? How to pivot from your current practices, to be more inclusive in both your thinking and in your intentional work, to begin to think about how you’re going to seek partners in your communities who are facing these persistent marginalizations to elevate their voices, to hear from them, to give power, give them power to the solutions that you’re trying to achieve.
You know, Bryan Stevenson talks about this thing called reckoning. And I’m working with a group in Northern Massachusetts where there are large indigenous communities, believe it or not, where their land has been progressively, of course, small and reduced. And they’ve interacted more on a transactional interaction, right? So we’re having a fair, will you come and speak at our fair? We need someone of an indigenous person to come and talk at our school assembly. So all transactional.
And so you have to confront these transactional interactions that are not power-driven, that don’t really work to create inclusion and to level the playing field. And you often have to start these transactions with humility. You have to say, you know, “We have not gotten off on the right foot. We haven’t approached you in the right way. We’ve had more of a transactional interaction with you. We haven’t supported giving you power. We haven’t embraced, and welcomed and open to hear your voice. We want to change. And for that, we are sorry. How can we, going back to that second bullet, elevate your voice and give you power in the solutions that are important to you?” So these are the kinds of things that responsible leaders mirror and that they do. And so I’m interested in hearing from you all, what do you feel you need to reckon with? Like, what would that kind of responsible leadership conversation look like?
Who should be at your table that’s not there that you would need to say, you know, “We’re sorry. We have been transactional with you. We have been dismissive. We haven’t hailed you as a true partner in the work that we do. We need you at our table. We’re facing these challenges and we need to hear your voice and what the solution should be. We don’t want to do stuff to you, which is what we have tended to do in our nonprofit sector, create solutions for things we do to people. We want to work with you.”
So I’m interested in the chat box to hear what you all need to reckon with and who needs to be at the table and what challenges you need to face together. And I know that’s a big question. I also want you to take this question, all these questions back to your boards and to talk about them. So you can chat about any one of these or all three if you think you’ve got answers to all three. I’ll pause real quick and check in with Steve to see if there’s anything to share related to this or any of the other questions.
Steven: Yeah. There’s been some cool ones. Carina here is saying they’ve created it in an inclusivity subcommittee, which sounds awesome. So they’re getting a specific group of people to talk about this. David’s saying, “Collaborating with the CEO and beginning a long-term DEI strategy and then introducing that to the board, but once that’s created.” That’s awesome. Sarah is saying, “I can see incorporating this information into our own organizational goals and expectations.” Krista, I love this one, “Getting members of the BIPOC community active in the community to be on the board,” which seems like a good place to pull potential board members from also working to rekindle their relationships with the Latin X community, with equity round tables, involving the community and more of their program work. Makes sense. Some folks are saying that they have been transactional and need to kind of move beyond that, need to uncover ways that the organizations are benefiting from funding that keeps people in, you know, poverty, even though those . . .
Dr. Robin: Yeah.
Steven: You’re right. There’s this sort of weird dichotomy there where they benefit from it financially, but it’s keeping the people that are trying to help in those situations. It’s good to recognize that. You’re right. It is a sharp group, Robin.
Dr. Robin: Yes. And I saw one comment about working with an older white board who feel that it’s more important to have people who have financial resources. I’m hoping that I’m going to give you some tools for that because that’s a common misunderstanding. There’s also a great link. I’ll give it to you, Steven, where there was a conference about board diversity and they really challenge that assumption in a great way. It’s like a four-hour conference, but there’s a lot of narration, so you can get the notes on this site. But hopefully, I’ll address that because that’s a common misdirection.
The second one I want you all to think about yourself is as aware leaders. So aware leaders really adopt a sense of urgency. Like, you know, there’s some work that the Equity in the Center, I believe is the name of the organization. They say, “Aware awoke to work.” So aware leadership is you realize this has to get done. So there’s a sense of urgency. You’re knowledgeable about the impact of systemic and structural racism within your community. So you looked at the data, right? You got to look at data. You got to disaggregate that data and say, “How do blacks perform, whites perform? Different age groups, genders, different nationalities.” You got to really be able to see what these barriers are and how they’re manifesting themselves. Excuse me. You’re acknowledging and you know that it’s not just what happens in the big picture of the data, but it happens in the day-to-day lives.
So these aggressions and microaggressions that we’re dealing with, aggressions being our policing where black men and women are murdered at a rate that outpaces others when they’re killed in such violent ways for crimes that in no way would ever carry the death penalty, for crimes that they weren’t charged with for situations that were routine. These are aggression, these microaggressions, which are the situations such as, you know, the most recent one of bird watcher meets woman with dog in New York Central Park who says, “I’m going to call the police and tell them that a black man is attacking me,” who knew that she had the microaggression power and knew that, in fact, the police would come. She suspected the police would believe her because all of our data shows that they will and that this man would be brutally treated for the nerve of him to question her about her dog being off of the leash, that the impact of this on the day-to-day lives of both black people and white people, people of color and white people, that the impact of this is detrimental to all of us. So aware leaders know how important it is that we do something about this.
So this is Kotter’s eight steps. This is just one model, but I want you to think about how you initiate change on your board and in your organization. How do you get things moving when there’s a sense of urgency? So some folks, I will tell you, and we know that it can take a year for just them to get a committee formed. Well, I don’t think this is work that you kind of need to get started now. If you are responsible and you’re aware, and you’re using data and experiences, and you’re challenging the status quo, and you’re articulating that this is connected to your mission, you have to create a sense of urgency and begin to think through how to we do this. So the participant who said that you have an inclusion committee, you are at step number two, hopefully, which is a guiding coalition.
You’ve put together a group of people who say, “We’re going to move this work.” Their next step then would be to develop a vision. What are they trying to do? Communicate that vision to the full board, the staff, to get buy-in and then empower the broad-based action, what are those actions, and then just gradually go through these steps. But this is just one particular model. I want you all to really, as aware leaders realize, you got to start with the facts. If you go back to the responsible, it was believed that historical in the current data, you have to emphasize that today’s racial inequities don’t require personal or unintentional racism. So people want to just go like, “Oh, it’s just one or two bad actors.” Right? How many times do we hear that? No, it’s not. It’s systemic. It doesn’t require one or two bad actors.
If you still have people who are saying to you it’s not systemic, then, you know, that, first of all, they can’t be on your guiding coalition. And secondly, you’ve got more work to do to get their buy-in, to get them to understand. This stuff happens on automatic pilot because it is a part of the culture. It is a part of the systemic and structural infrastructure of America. You have to counter stereotypes and bias by challenging these contradictions where people say, “Well, what did they do wrong?” Or, “Well, why are they hungry?” Or, “Why can’t they hold down a job?” Or, you know, “Why are they still doing blah, blah, blah?” things that blame the individual, that blame the person, these stereotypes and bias. You have to be able to push back and challenge those. And you have to be able to start with those who are engaged in DEI work. Meaning, you know, sometimes we say preach to the choir. Well, you know, the choir is our friend. Sometimes we start with those who are already empowered, have their hands up, and then we help others find their roles as change agents. And everybody’s not going to have the same role.
So another question I want you to think about is how can you build organizational awareness and change? So is it Kotter’s nine steps? Is it through a task force like the inclusion task force that the participant mentioned? Is it through having a speaker come in to really help your organization, your board understand the level of awareness at the details that they need? Is it through looking at disaggregated data and having a retreat where you really talk about this data and what it means and looking at it over time, like why for the last 10 years, is this still the same?
Why hasn’t this changed? What are the conditions that are continuing to perpetuate these same poor performances within people of color, people in a community that you’re looking at, whatever it is, zip codes? We know zip codes based upon . . . it’s called place-based work, where you live, you have certain outcomes for education for life expectancy, for comorbidities. Why is that? What can we do about that? So begin to ask yourself these questions. If you’re doing any work already where you’ve built organizational awareness and change, definitely put that in the chat box. I’m going to keep going through the next section and then pause after that because I want to make sure we get through everything.
The third way I want you to think about your role is by being an impactful leader. And this one is real important to me because this is where you champion at the upper most levels of government, philanthropy, corporate. You know, you really seek opportunities to drive equity. You recognize that equity requires changes, in policies, laws, practices, operations, structures, rules. So which is, while, it’s a really bad term, defund the police. I would have chosen another way to say it, but I understand what they mean. Basically, they’re saying we have to take resources and apply those resources in a way that we can change conditions, circumstances in communities. So how do we do that in a way in whatever your mission might be that creates changes in equitable systems for those that you serve?
A lot of that has to do with who you have around the board table and making sure you have an inclusive leadership team and that you have an inclusive board. So you have people sitting around the board table who have lived experiences that are diverse, who bring expertise, who bring knowledge, who bring courage, and who are able to help you sift through and create the right systems, processes, and requirements for you to do your work, but also for you to advocate, for you to really know that your job as leaders is to advocate, to reevaluate, and change. And I’m going to give you an example of this, words, images, actions. And I know this sounds like a lot of work and it is, which is why you pick what it is that you can do and that aligns most with your mission.
So impactful leaders have difficult conversations. One of you said, and I saw in the chat box that you’re reading “White Fragility,” which I recommend for everyone. Robin DiAngelo wrote this book in partnership with . . . I’m blacking on his name, but he’s a famous black author as well and thought leader. And she said, “I’ve never met a white person without an opinion on racism.” So don’t let people tell you that they don’t have anything to say because they do have something to say. And they quite often are saying it in other situations. And so I want to show you . . . Ooh. I think I forgot to share my sound. Let me stop sharing real quick and share my sound. I’m sorry. Share computer sound. Okay. Now I’m going to go back. Okay. Now you should be able to hear it.
Mitch: So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the lost cause of the confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding each other. It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, they fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause, they were not patriots. These statutes are not just stone and metal. They’re not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional sanitized confederacy, ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for. And after the Civil War, these monuments were part of that terrorism as much as burning across on someone’s lawn. They were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in the shadows about who was still in charge in this city.
Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments. From the perspective of an African American mother or father, trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter why Robert E. Lee sat atop of our city. Can you do it? Can you do it? Can you look into the eyes of this young girl and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think that she feels inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see her future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought, have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and my potential . . . might limit is potential as well? We all know the answers to these very simple questions. When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus. This is the moment when we know what we must do, when we know what is right.
Dr. Robin: So that was Mitch Landrieu, who was the mayor of New Orleans, who was approached by many, many over years, and years, and years to remove specific statues, confederate statues. And he did this about five years ago. He didn’t remove all the statues, but he removed five that were on prominent city property. And he shares in a longer version of this how he walked past those statues his whole life and they never meant anything to him. It didn’t bother him at all until friends intentionally brought him into the experience.
And this is why having that diverse group of leaders is so important because they were able to share with him exactly what he shared in that snippet of the video, what those statues means to a black person who’s walking beneath them each and every day. What they mean to them in terms of what the city is saying to them about their place in the city, about the power, or lack of power that they have. And that it means that the city would continue to uphold such a violent past, a time when black people were fought over as property.
What I love about Mitch Landrieu is that . . . and why I give him as an example of impactful leadership is because this man held a press conference to say he was going to do this. Now, I’m happy the statues are being removed throughout the South and the country now, but most of these statues are being removed in the middle of the night. Okay. At least in Atlanta and in Georgia, I can tell you, literally the news crews go out and stake out and watch them dismantling confederate statues in the middle of the night. There are no press conferences. No one is saying, “We’re doing this because this is the right thing to do. We’re doing this because we’re impactful leaders. We’re doing this because we have a common understanding and a common purpose because we heard the voices of those in our community and how this hurts them. Because we know that this creates a sense of division because we want to create an anti-biased and anti-racist society, because we know and we believe that words, and images, and actions ensure that we uphold one another when we respect them.” And we know that iconography, which Bryan Stevenson talks about has a great meaning and carries pain within our community.
Nope. They’re taking down in the middle of the night. So they’re doing the right thing, but they’re not doing it as a leader. And I’m challenging you to participate as an impactful leader, to stand up for these things. We need your voices. We need the collective voice of those who know the right thing to do, as he says, “When you hear it and you see this, then you know, it is right and you know what you must do.” That applies to you leaders on this call.
So I want you to also think about what are the priorities that create a sense of urgency, issues or conditions that you’re dealing with that need you to be an impactful leader. If you have any you want to drop in the chat box, please do. These don’t have to be confederate statues. That’s a big issue. They could be issues that are for you related to inclusive voices, related to changing how you do certain programs, programs that have been enabling situations versus changing situations and conditions, ways in which you have been marginalizing participants, ways in which you haven’t been elevating staff, ways in what you haven’t been promoting and given opportunities to vendors and community members, ways in which you haven’t been funding at the grassroots level instead of funding at a higher, more white dominant level and then having them go into grassroots organizations to do the work. So there’s so many ways in which we have to create a sense of urgency around these issues and change conditions and create more impactful leadership. I’m going to pause and see, Steven, what we have in the chat box.
Steven: Yeah. We’ve got a lot of people chiming in here. Folks saying that they’re taking themselves through exercises that challenge them to share their experiences with the DEI in a safe space. Chad’s saying they’re creating more intentionality for their programs to better equip the people that they’re serving. Looks like an organization here is defending native lands but they don’t have Native Americans on the board. That seems to be . . . you know, I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. They’re, you know, serving people that the board doesn’t reflect necessarily. Hearing microaggressions. I’m sure that’s a big one too. Alice is saying they’re just going to schedule a listening session to connect with the needs of the neighborhood. Listening’s good. April’s saying they’re challenging a 100-year-old educational curriculum that is very Eurocentric and doesn’t reflect the diversity. Yeah. Lots of interesting stuff here.
Dr. Robin: Okay. And there’s some interesting questions in the Q&A too. I’ll tackle a couple of those. So one was . . . let me go back to it is, do you have a board matrix? So I suggest you go to boardsource.org. There’s a template there for board matrix, which gives you an idea, but board matrix are uniquely developed. So you want to certainly look at your community. You want to look at those you serve, you want to have that data in front of you so that you can create both a demographic component to your matrix and skills, competencies, lived experience component to your matrix. So you don’t want your matrix to just be about where people were, corporate America, small business. University academician, business owner, CPAs. You want those, you want women, various racial ethnicities, religion, age, gender, gender identity. You want that. You also want ways in which people bring lived experiences, advocacy, relationships, grassroots, power. You want all of that.
So you want to create a very composition matrix. I use an Excel spreadsheet then I map the current board against that matrix. I have people say, “Where do you see yourself on this matrix?” And then you look at your gaps and those gaps help guide your board building. So those gaps help you to make that intersectionality. So you may need a person of color, a black person, Latino. You may need one or two. You don’t just want one, or three or four. Then you also need an accountant. Then you also need a physician. Then you also need . . . So you can find a female black physician. You can find a Hispanic, a Latino male accountant. You can find an academician who’s Asian and who cares about your particular mission. And that goes through . . .
Also, when you go on board source, you know, take a look at the board building process, which goes to identify, cultivate, and then recruit. We mess up because boards start right at recruit. And they start at recruit because basically they’re just looking at people they know who they can just call up. But when you’re looking for people you don’t know but who you need to know, you identify who you need to know then you cultivate those relationships and then you recruit them. So often it’s taking six months to a year before you’re actually recruiting someone. So that’s a quick snippet about that.
There was one other question that I wanted to comment on and I can’t find it. It may come back to me. I saw it earlier and then I . . . Oh, why do you think we do not see more black males in fundraising profession? So, first of all, there are more now. I work in the South and I work with . . . 50% of my organizations are philanthropy and I see quite a few black leaders. But the reason why we see few is because philanthropy has been white-dominant. Funds have been primarily white dominant-driven, coming from white communities, and there has, historically, for 400 years, been a bias against believing that black people can be trusted with resources. So there’s this there’s bias, this unconscious bias and conscious bias, which gets us to this allied leadership that creates a limiting opportunity for people of color to have access, full access to all opportunities, even when they are qualified.
And so now there’s a trend for us to call folks instead of allied leaders, but accomplices or co-conspirators, meaning people who want to put skin in the game. It’s basically what they’re saying. When ally leaders more or less recognize their privilege and wanted to stand in solidarity, accomplices are those people out on the Black Lives Matter front lines who are getting arrested as well, who are saying, “Not only am I your ally, but I will get arrested alongside of you.”
So we want people who are willing to take the risk and someone who’s willing to take the risk says, “I’m going to hire a black leader of my philanthropy organization, and there are quite a few now and men, because I believe in this person’s competency and capabilities and I know.” Another reason why we don’t see more is because there are not equitable systems to ensure that they are found, that they are sourced, and that they are interviewed.
So when the NBA . . . no NBA, sorry, the NFL decided to do something about black coaches and the lack of black coaches, they were able to do that when they created what was called the Rooney rule, and that meant that they had to interview at least one black coach, one black coach candidate. And once they started to do that, then we saw the hiring of black coaches increased. They were never even getting to the interview because they were only interviewing people from the same class, the same group of folks, the same circulated group of potential coaches, who they knew and they weren’t interviewing those coaches who were the coaches for the different sections of football.
So until they made that rule. And so you have to make some real rules, you have to say, “We will advertise in certain places. We will ensure that we bet and that we have a certain number of candidates of color. We will make sure that we interview so many candidates of color. We will debias our interviewing process by training our interviewers, by doing blind interviewing and whatever ways we can.” You set up a way in which you give those folks opportunities because we know that we have to create an equitable playing field that eradicates and that addresses our understanding of root causes of the disparities in the outcomes. And so that’s another real reason.
So I’ve got this slide here for you on ally and accomplice. I’m not going to go through it because I think that you can read it, but I want you to really take a look at this, internalize it, you know, Kendi Ibram, who I know you’ve all heard, who wrote the now very famous book about “How to Be an Antiracist,” you know, has a very simple definition. And he just defines it as someone who is expressing an anti-racist idea, supporting an anti-racist policy with their actions. So we want people who say, “I am an anti-racist and this is what I do, and this is what I will do,” both on your boards, in your leadership positions, and those that you are working with, who you are funding, right? Who you are giving resources to through your organization’s funding. And these are just some examples.
This was written in 2006, and I still love it. I still love it, “Assume racism is everywhere.” So folks who have their head in the sand and go, “Oh, it’s just a few people.” No, it’s not. Who notice who is at the center of power and who’s missing from that center. Who notice when racism is denied and minimized, when often this is where they are blaming the victim. All of these things, these are just some of the keys of what we want you to exhibit and we want folks to exhibit when they’re are accomplices and they are allies. So I want you to think about how you see your role as an anti-racist or as an ally or accomplice, where are you in that journey, and how are you getting there? Is that the road that you see yourself on, where you can say to yourself that, “I am working towards being an anti-racist and being an ally and an accomplice?” And with that, we are at the end. It’s 2:00. But I’m certainly okay with taking a few more questions, Steven, that might be in the chat box.
Steven: Yeah. I would love that. I feel like I could hang out with you all day. I won’t keep you all day though. I know you’re busy and you’ve got a lot to do, but there are a lot of questions here. And as you were talking, Robin, I was kind of thinking of this idea of sort of performative allyship. You know, you mentioned taking the monuments down at night and, you know, transactional things. I think a lot of people may think that they’re doing something good by maybe reading a book or attending a webinar or hosting a webinar. And I’m kind of talking about myself, but how can people kind of move beyond maybe some of those superficial actions into something that is more than that, that can truly be transformative.
Dr. Robin: Right. Well, that’s where you get to the accomplice level, when you really put your life in on the line. You really get engaged in the work. So not only are you just reading it, but how active are you in the work in the community? So one of the things Bryan Stevenson has been called it’s for organizations, leaders to get proximate for you to understand and you to really have real relationships with those and know what that suffering is, for you to share in that suffering. So for you to do what it takes to eradicate that suffering in a personal way. So if you’re a board member and you’re only coming to board meetings, you don’t have any skin in the game. So how are you showing up for the work, right? If you’re sitting in a room and you hear people say negative and derogatory comments but you never speak up, you don’t have any skin in the game.
So how are you representing yourself when no one is watching and when you’re in a room full of people who are not quite yet there? Are you fully there, even in their presence? Are you saying, “This is wrong? This is how I see it. This is what I believe?” How are you with your friends and family? You know, if you’re not speaking the truth in your own home with your friends and family, with people who you have influence over, how are you going to be able to speak that truth to those who you work with and who you serve as a leader with?
So we really have to make it very personal and you have to get engaged outside of what you’re reading, use that as your armor because you’re equipped with facts, you’re equipped with the truth, and then go in, lean in and challenge those things that are wrong, support those things that are right, spend more time on the front lines of whatever way you feel comfortable and safe, but get out of your box, your safety box of your office, or your boardroom, and be a part of really creating that change, so.
Steven: Yeah. Along those same lines, what advice did you have for someone who maybe wants to approach their boss, the CEO, a board member and say, “Hey, this needs to be a priority. You know, you need to take this more seriously.” And I think I said this last time you were on, but, you know, we’ve got 300 people listening live. We’ve got 1200 people registered for the recording. I’m not worried about those people, you know, but I’m worried about the people who aren’t listening to this conversation. How should you approach those people? Is it sending them, you know, the recording of this or sending them the articles or the books that you recommended? How would you recommend people kind of approach that?
Dr. Robin: So the first thing I would say is that it’s always individual and you always approach by sharing your journey. We convert people most through personal stories, and so connecting this work to your personal story and how you started this journey. So not approaching them as if, “Look at me,” this, “I know I’m so much more advanced than you,” but going to them and say, you know, “I want to talk to you about a journey that I’ve been on and how this journey has enlightened me, how it has changed me, and how I think it is making me a better person for this work, and I think could make others a better person for the work and help us to collectively be better. So in my journey, this is what I’ve done, this is what I’ve experienced, and this is how it’s impacted me. And I think this is a journey that’s worthwhile for all of us. And so as a leader of our organization, I’d like to talk about some ideas I have and hear your thoughts for how we can, you know, move this to a collective effort.”
Always come with ideas. Always come with ideas, whether it’s are you thinking that you all should bring in a speaker? Are you thinking you should start, you know, a book club to read? Are you thinking that you should . . . maybe you’re doing your strategic plan, it should be a part of the strategic plan. Are you thinking that the group should . . . whatever, have some ideas, have some resources. And then be willing to be a part of the effort.
So don’t come and just dump it and say, “Okay. Tell me what you’re going to do.” Always say, “Let’s talk about what we should do next. How can I follow up on this? What would you like to do to have assurances that we’re ready for this? Can we form a committee? Can we form a test group?” Hold the conversation accountable to the next level and make sure that you wrap that up so that you get some assurance about . . . even if it’s just, “I’ll send you a few articles for you to read. Can I check back in with you in a month and let’s talk about this again?” So gauge what that next level of accountability is going to be, but make sure that you include that in that conversation.
Steven: Love it. Robin, a few people have shared concerns about potential loss of funding for maybe being more vocal about these issues. Maybe there’s some willingness within the organization, but they’re worried about external consequences like, maybe some donors will suddenly be turned off by, by our, you know, renewed or new interests. And I don’t want to discount those fears, but it seems to me that, you know, maybe for every donor you might lose, there’d be 5 to 10 that would be energized, you know? Is there some truth to that? What advice would you have to those people who are maybe feeling that?
Dr. Robin: You know, I think that’s more of a myth. I haven’t seen much truth to that. To be honest, I worked with a group in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is in the seat of a lot of our systemic racism. There were board members who had that concern. And, in fact, what we did was we used data. We used our community coalition and the voices from the community leaders. We did visioning and we methodically kept their . . . they called them their emeritus board members engaged in this journey by giving them updates and information. They didn’t lose a single donor. So I think it’s more of a myth than it is a reality. I think when you connect it to your mission and it’s clear that what you’re doing aligns with your mission, you connect it to your purpose and to your values, and you keep your donors engaged.
You give them a chance to share their thoughts with you, but you stand firm that you know that where you’re doing is going to make a difference and that that’s why they’re trusting you with their resources because they want to make a difference. Those who see that will stay. And I agree, if you lose any, you’re going to, in fact, recruit many others who really want that kind of journey. That’s the work they want to happen. They want impactful work. They want equity-driven work to happen. And so you’ll recoup with other donors. So I haven’t seen that being a real reason to be hesitant about entering into this work.
Steven: It makes sense. And we’ve seen that on the grant side too where the funders, the want that, right?
Dr. Robin: Absolutely. And now, now more than ever. If you can’t move boldly in 2020, you’ve got the wrong funders because I’m telling you, this is where the work is, this is where people are clamoring to do work, this is where the funding is coming from. Most funders are really shifting and ensuring that their grantees speak to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in their grant applications, that they have diverse boards, that they have a clear vision. I mean, this is what’s happening. And so if you’re not teeing up your work for that now, you’re going to find yourself behind because many of your funders are, in fact, thinking about ways to implement these kinds of standards in how they fund, so.
Steven: It is an opportunity, right?
Dr. Robin: Yes. It is an opportunity.
Steven: That may be a good place to end it. I know there’s a couple other questions here, but Dr. Robin, where can people get a hold of you? We would definitely want to keep the conversation going.
Steven: I love it.
Dr. Robin: And you can link into me. Link into me at Robin Stacia.
Steven: Take her up on the offer. Obviously, a wealth of knowledge. You’ve been so generous, over two hours of this education for us, much needed. Thank you. Thank you for doing this. It’s been fun, not just to listen, but to get to know you over the last few weeks and learn from you.
Dr. Robin: Thank you. I have absolutely loved every minute of it. And I thank, you know, you’re a great group of colleagues and members for being on here with us. So thanks so much.
Steven: Yeah. Good group. I appreciate all the folks who listened live.
Dr. Robin: Love you guys. All the comments are awesome. Wish we had time to speak to them all, but, you know?
Steven: I know. There’s too many good ones, but I know people have been hanging out for a while. But I’m going to send the recording. I’ll send part one just in case folks didn’t see that one, the slides. We’ll get all that good stuff in front of you. And yeah, the chats are just kind of rolling in here.
Dr. Robin: Yeah. And thanks, everybody. I see the thank you s, and I appreciate that. It warms me. Thanks so much.
Steven: It was fun. So we’ve got some cool webinars coming up. I just wanted to highlight one that we’ve got going on. Actually tomorrow, one a week wasn’t enough for me. We got our buddy, Jay Frost, from DonorSearch, going to talk about some of the prospecting tips and tricks he has seen since the pandemic started. He’s got an interesting bird’s eye view of the wealth screening world. So if any of you are maybe gearing up for some major gift or capital campaign type campaigns towards your end, check that out tomorrow, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, almost 24 hours from now. Going to be a good one, totally free. But we’ve got lots of other webinars actually on schedule through. I think I put a 2021 something on the calendar.
Dr. Robin: Wow. That’s awesome.
Steven: Yeah. It seems a little scary, but it’s not that far away. So definitely check it out. We’d love to see you again on another session. Like I said, I love doing these, and today was by far no exception. But we will call it a day there. Like I said, look for an email from me with all the goodies, all the recordings. We’ll get that to you and hopefully see you tomorrow. If not, on another session. If not, have a good rest of your week. If you’re out West, we’re thinking about you, please stay safe. You know, we need you all in the world, but we’re definitely thinking about you folks out West. Stay safe. We need you. And hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye now.
Dr. Robin: Bye, everybody.
Steven: See you.
Dr. Robin: Thanks.