Jeanne Tedrow, President & CEO, North Carolina Center for Nonprofits
In 2017 when the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits launched our Walking the Talk initiative, we committed to live into the values that reflect equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). These values were considered as we formed and implemented the 2017-2023 strategic plan. At the board, staff, and organizational level, the Center works to inform itself and to educate the sector on issues related to EDI.
While this EDI journey is not a linear path nor smooth, we knew it was important to begin. Doing so in 2017, we have since taken small steps, primarily related to personal and individual change. This approach has included sharing webinars on implicit bias, defining the difference between equity and inclusion, defining white supremacy and how it shows up in our daily lives, and sharing our feelings during the pandemic when we saw from our remote workplaces Black and Brown Americans killed at the hands of the police. We know that real change occurs at a systems level and occurs when systems are disrupted in positive ways to reflect equity.
Organizationally, we have participated in many activities that helped us think about our own biases and how these influence our practices and our leadership role. While we implemented external programs that we hope would inform and influence the sector, we also began our own internal work. We formed equity committees of our board and staff, reviewed our personnel policies and changed them to reflect values of equity and inclusion. We hired a consultant to work with the board and staff to reflect on the ways that we could dive more deeply into our EDI work.
As a result, we have begun to make changes in our operations. The board reviewed its nomination and selection process and intentionally considered new members to reflect the diversity of the nonprofit sector more fully. The staff looked at our Principles & Practices guide and agreed that EDI should be embedded in each principle rather than standing alone in a separate principle. The board also adopted our outward facing equity statement and defined the purpose of the board’s equity committee. There is much more to do.
Our commitment to this journey is to continue informing, leading, and walking the talk, recognizing that we have so much more to gain. As a nonprofit sector, we are richer because we are diverse, and when our leadership reflects this diversity, our sector will be stronger. We invite you to join us as we look toward 2022 to continue our journey.