Equity and Inclusion Action Steps for Gainesville’s Nonprofit Sector
As our country works towards creating a more equitable society for all, here in Alachua County our nonprofit sector has long recognized the need for more access for underserved populations and has been providing services to fill those gaps for decades. From offering empowerment groups for minority youth and financial literacy programs to reduce poverty to providing food and shelter for people in need and quality childcare focused on school-readiness, our local nonprofit sector has been working diligently to provide equitable access for all.
However, according to BoardSource, the leading governance resource within the nonprofit sector, the leadership landscape of the nonprofit community nationally has predominately remained white over the last 25 years. Nationally, 90% of chief executives and 84% of board members report as Caucasian with 27% of boards consisting of all white members.
When these numbers were presented to the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, it was time to act locally. The Foundation is dedicated to equity work within our community including assembling and listening to feedback and insights of our Equity Task Force, convening local diversity and inclusion officers from across industries to share leading practices, and providing governance training to community members from diverse backgrounds and connecting them to nonprofits in need of board leadership.
We are committed to social change and recommend the following action steps toward racial equity and accountability for the social sector:
- Adopt and measure equity as a core value within your organization.
- Organizations should partake in in-depth board assessments that identify board composition, how they arrived at this point, and how to proceed forward with equity at the forefront of the work they are doing.
- Organizations should conduct a routine mission audit: Who are you? Who do you serve? Let this guide your organization in creating an authentic mission that reflects the needs of those you serve through your programming.
- Promote diversity within your leadership team by having candid conversations about diversity and inclusivity and including these goals within your organization’s strategic plan.
- Raise awareness surrounding the lack of diversity within the nonprofit sector specifically at the governance and executive level.
- Through The Philanthropy Hub, our community’s local nonprofit database, we will be able to ascertain data specifically around Alachua County nonprofits including their current board and executive composition. This will provide the transparency needed to create immediate and long-term strategic planning around our local equity issues.
- Training top leadership including Board chairs and organization directors will help raise awareness and provide solutions to common challenges.
- Recruit, retain, and promote minorities within the local nonprofit community, specifically at the Board and Executive levels.
- Appoint qualified community members to board positions who may not yet be CEOs or senior level executives within their professional organizations. Create awareness of how nonprofit service can open doors to other industries. Historically, minority community members have not had the opportunity to serve in these positions so to limit board participation to those titles continues to foster the problem. Encourage board service as a pathway to professional achievement, rather than requiring professional status as a precondition. This will benefit both board members and organizations. We charge the nonprofit sector to look to fill these seats with members of the community whose skill sets match the needs of the organization.
- Create an executive leadership path by training current staff on how to serve at an executive leadership level with a strategic goal of promoting from within. Company culture carries significant weight so promoting those that know and understand your mission best will help with retention. We suggest creating a track that promotes from within and recognizes the advantages of diverse perspectives.
- Work towards cultural competence within your organizations to prevent representation-ism.
- Representation-ism is the practice of adding minorities solely for the sake of creating a diverse population, which does not create an inclusive environment where ideas from all are welcomed to the table. Cultural competence is a constructive practice that combats representation-ism. Cultural competence occurs when an organization allows for many different behaviors, attitudes, and policies and works effectively in cross-cultural settings to produce better outcomes. Cultural competence acknowledges and validates who people are by focusing on the organization’s culture, while removing the need to place blame and assume guilt.
- Create an inclusion, diversity, equity, and access resource directory that includes topics that pertain to your organization, your industry, and your staff’s development.
- Educate the governing board about equity issues within our community. This can be achieved by establishing collaboration within the nonprofit and for-profit sectors surrounding inclusion, diversity, equity, and access efforts. When we are working together, we learn new and innovative ways to face a challenge head on.
As we work towards a more equitable society, we must turn the lens upon ourselves and truly reflect upon our actions and their effects. The following members from the Community Foundation’s Equity Task Force have done so and we ask that you do the same.
This work has always been important so we will continue these efforts and hope you join us on this journey!
Supporting organizations and community members:
- Alyssa Brown, Vice President, Public Policy, Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce
- Angela Howard, President & CEO, North Central Florida YMCA
- Carrie Lee, Board Chair, Community Foundation of North Central Florida
- Charles Harris, CEO, Central Florida Community Action Agency
- Deborah Bowie, Assistant City Manager, City of Gainesville
- Maggie Labarta, Owner and Founder, Impact Non-profit Consulting
- Eric Godet, President & CEO, Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce
- Ian R. Fletcher, Vice President of Education & Talent Alignment, Greater Gainesville Chamber’s Compact Foundation
- James Lawrence, GNV4ALL
- John Alexander, Executive Director, Gainesville Police Department – Reichert House
- Laura dePaz Cabrera, Managing Partner, George & Cabrera Immigration Attorneys
- Natalya Bannister, Executive Director, Pace Center for Girls, Alachua
- Tiffany McKenzie, Director of Community Development, Central Florida Community Action Agency
- Virginia Grant, President, Gainesville Black Professionals