I like the focus on racism vs. DEI. I've always felt the DEI approach was too squishy and had way too many off-ramps to be effective. That said, the mission of a nonprofit typically isn't to dismantle institutional racism. It's to feed the hungry, house the homeless, educat[e] the children, bring art and culture into our lives, etc. Its effectiveness is measured in how well it executes on its mission. If a food bank with a ‘white’ management structure feeds twice as many people than one with an ‘anti-racism’ management structure, which is the more effective nonprofit? How important is it to the people being served how the nonprofit management is structured? Don't get me wrong I don't have any patience or apologies for nonprofits that operate in a way that excludes anyone, and yes, the vestiges of racism go deeper than whether white employees use the n-word or overtly marginalize their co-workers of color. I just feel that leaving the purpose and mission of the nonprofit out of the conversation is an oversight and relegates this work to an ancillary position instead of mission critical.”
One of the authors of the article, our own Dave Lenox, addressed that feedback in saying:
We hear you! We are hearing these exact sentiments from clients across sectors. What we do NOT want is for DEI efforts to be seen as a reason to stop serving the people (or environment, or animals, for that matter) that we were formed to serve. It will take all of us working together to address systemic and unconscious bias. But we can't stop the important work of helping in other ways while we do that!
That comment and the response broach a really critical topic: have today’s hot button topics like anti-racism, diversity, equity, and politics gone too far? Or, more specifically, have the focus on these topics sidetracked well-intentioned nonprofits from their primary missions, thereby reducing their effectiveness?
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