Almost 5 months after making a formal commitment to improving our culture, practices, and client-facing approaches to uphold diversity, equity, and inclusion, we have had some early learnings. We are adapting our commitment to reflect those learnings, with a particular focus on the importance of community partnership and the need for us to recognize and hold ourselves accountable to our organizational position of power and privilege.
At Third Sector, we believe that in order to uphold our core values - Respect, Rigor, Results, Resourcefulness, and Reflection - we must have a deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, in both the way we operate as an organization and how we approach our work. Today’s societal challenges are rooted in systemic discrimination and disproportionately affect people along racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. Under the leadership and support of our Board, CEO, and management team, we work alongside communities to address challenges such as multigenerational poverty, housing stability, workforce and economic mobility, and physical and mental health, as well as the systems that prevent equitable access and deliver services that lead to disproportionate outcomes. In order to positively impact these complex issues, we must seek out and elevate diverse local perspectives, foster an inclusive environment where those voices are centered in the decision-making process, and embrace an equity-centered approach that uses our privileged position to meet the needs of the marginalized and historically underserved.
Elevating diverse perspectives: We value and respect diversity in its many forms: race, ethnicity, national origin, ability, class, faith, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and experience. Diverse perspectives lead to better solutions, but those perspectives, particularly from people of color, are often silenced. In our recruiting practices, we seek to bring diverse candidates to the table. In our engagements with local communities, we acknowledge the power of local wisdom and lived experience to create lasting social change, and in our privileged position, we seek to create the space for that wisdom and experience to influence us as an organization, the practices we engage in, and the communities in which we work.
Fostering an inclusive environment: Building a diverse team and engaging community members is not enough. In order to learn from and co-create with people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, we seek to foster an inclusive and collaborative environment where team members, clients, and community members can fully participate in decision-making processes, prosper, and reach their full potential.
Embracing an equity-centered approach:
We recognize that those in positions of power and privilege have created a system that functions by excluding and oppressing others. Racial and ethnic minorities, in particular, have less access to the resources, services, and opportunities needed to thrive. In order to direct resources and services where they are needed most, we seek to apply an equity-centered approach that questions and addresses the structures that disadvantage certain people . We strive to work in partnership with non-profit providers and the people they serve to adapt to community-specific context and address the root cause of disparate opportunities. Equal opportunity is not possible until equity is achieved, and this requires making deliberate efforts to reach the traditionally underserved, ignored, and systemically disenfranchised and include them in the decision-making process as equal parties.
Third Sector is committed to continually working to improve our efforts to elevate diverse local perspectives, foster an inclusive environment, and embrace an equity-centered approach. We recognize that because we stand in a privileged position in this work, it is our responsibility to engage in diversity, equity and inclusion work both internally and with our partners. In service of that responsibility, we have formed a cross-office Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group who, in coordination with Third Sector leadership, identifies and executes on action plans to uphold our commitment. We will document our latest progress in our blog and are always open to discussing efforts with others. We are a learning organization that encourages our team members, clients, and partners to continuously improve in pursuit of better outcomes for communities. As such, we welcome outside feedback and support in reaching our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and approach.