This week’s blog is written by Laura Ringo, Executive Director, Partners for Active Living
Facing Race Together: Reflections from Together SC Nonprofit Summit
Annual TogetherSC Nonprofit Summit
Together SC, a statewide organization that supports the needs of South Carolina nonprofits, recently hosted their annual conference in Columbia. The Mary Black Foundation was one of the generous sponsors who helped ensure its success. This year Together SC decided on one overall focus and theme, Facing Race Together. This was a diversion from the typical conference format which usually includes a wide range of nonprofit capacities like program evaluation, board development, strategic planning, fundraising, social media engagement, etc.
I attended a number of sessions throughout the conference but two stand out as I reflect on the experience. The first one was led by a surgeon who challenged beliefs on health equity and shared the idea of an ‘in’ group and an ‘out’ group that receive differing kinds of care for both systematic and individualistic reasons. He asked important reflective questions like:
What can I do? How much do I contribute to the inequity?
Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture
The other one was “Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture.” The speaker laid out how nonprofits can improve their internal focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. I appreciated the discussion around such an important topic and felt the tangible milestones were especially meaningful because it helped me understand how to better put theory into action.
The speaker suggested that there are seven “levers” that nonprofits can pull to move along the spectrum in creating a race equity culture from Awake (stage 1) to Woke (stage 2) to Work (stage 3). The levers to move organizations through the race equity cycle are (1) senior leaders, (2) data, (3) organizational culture, (4) learning environment, (5) board of directors, (6) communities, (7) managers.
Here is a copy of the chart from the training pertaining to the board of directors lever:
This chart, as well as the others provided assist in identifying concrete examples for improvement and for ensuring that race equity is embedded deep within critical aspects of an organization.
For me one of the most important questions to ask after a new learning opportunity is ‘now what’? My hope is that my board, team of colleagues, and I can evaluate our current stage on the race equity spectrum and then outline steps for improvement. This seems like it will be a multi-year process to ensure that we continue progressing and evaluating.
For more information on the Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture, check out https://www.equityinthecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Equity-in-Center-Awake-Woke-Work-2019-final-1.pdf