Different-colored leaves hang on a string.

As you step into your nonprofit vision for 2021, change abounds. It is behind you, it is ahead of you, and it is affecting you now. Change is often a vehicle for new opportunities. It can provide a much-needed shift in your organization’s purpose and practices.

Take, for example, the powerful change we are experiencing in the social fabric of our country as individuals are newly awakening to systems of injustice and racism that have existed for decades. This movement has infiltrated organizations, too, and leading nonprofits are ensuring their mission, vision, and values champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Here is how you can use a DEI lens as you implement change in your organization this New Year.

Diagnose before you act

All organizational change follows a similar pattern, like the Kubler-Ross Change Curve described in Brighter Strategies’s free e-book, “Change Management: The Role of Strategic Communication.” Creating more diversity, equity, and inclusion in your agency requires a change process of its own.

  • Identify the pain points. While many leaders are eager to jump right into all-things DEI this year, those savvy in change management understand that you must first identify the problem before you determine a solution. Define your company’s DEI goals for 2021 and assess where you are right now on this journey.
  • Create benchmarks. The only way to show progress is to measure it. Use SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) goals to illustrate how your people, planning, processes, and performance have grown this year.

Focus your DEI lens on talent

Your nonprofit’s practices are only as good as its people. The talent you hire and develop will operate the systems that drive change in your organization. This interconnectivity means that getting the people piece of the puzzle right is critical when it comes to DEI and change.

  • Rethink hiring. First, your staff must embody DEI. Employees must represent—in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, and so forth—the people you serve. If you are intending to create real change, your workforce must be the change you wish to see. How is your talent acquisition approach encouraging such diversity, equity, and inclusion? This year, take a hard look at how you attract, source, and select talent.
  • Prioritize education. All people in your organization can benefit from ongoing DEI awareness training. This includes education to uncover unconscious bias as well as conversations about your organization’s DEI values and expectations. Audit your learning and development menu to ensure such opportunities exist.

Get clear about DEI in your culture

Organizational culture can be a vague construct. The more ambiguous you allow the term “culture fit” to be, the wider you open the door to unconscious bias in practices like hiring, performance management, and career development. Make using a DEI lens the most important definition of your agency’s culture.

  • Walk the talk. From the Board of Directors to your frontline managers, your organization’s leaders must talk about and model your DEI values consistently. Create committees that work solely on culture change initiatives, and form councils that ensure your practices are diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
  • Be human. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that people are more than their profession, and life is messy. Creating a culture that elevates empathy, listening, kindness, and grace will do wonders for DEI efforts. When your people feel they can show up fully at work, they will be more present and engaged in the work that they do.

Change, DEI, culture—these are difficult topics to tackle. Sometimes you need an expert voice and objective perspective to point you in the right direction. Brighter Strategies is here to be that consultative partner for you in 2021. Contact us today to get started.

A Framework for DEI Strategy

Your organization is ready to get serious about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). But what does that mean? What departments does that include? How do you start? We’ve prepared this visual tool to help you better understand what’s included in a DEI plan and where you can start.

A Framework for DEI Strategy eBook