5 Tips for Building an Antiracist Culture in Your Fundraising & Development Team w/ Kia Croom
Are you struggling to create an inclusive and equitable work culture? Maybe you need help operationalizing equity and inclusion in your fundraising team!
In this interactive workshop, you’ll come away with:
- Tips for creating and building an inclusive and equitable work culture
- Tips for operationalizing equity and inclusion in fundraising and development teams
- Understand how Instrumentl can help you better research and identify DEI focused funders
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Kia Croom is an experienced fund development executive with over 20 years of experience. To date she’s raised nearly half a billion dollars for nonprofits of all sizes nationwide in a variety of cause areas including STEM, housing and homelessness, youth development, education, HIV/AIDS and more. She’s worked in a host development functions including but not limited to major gifts, grant writing, creative messaging and content writing, and digital marketing and her favorite—brokering high-impact corporate strategic partnerships.
Kia is incredibly passionate about racial and philanthropic justice in philanthropy, and interested in working with agencies committed to addressing anti-black racism specifically by uplifting, strengthening and supporting Black-led nonprofit organizations.
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5 Tips for Building an Antiracist Culture in Your Fundraising & Development Team w/ Kia Croom - Grant Training Transcription
Will: Hello, everyone. And welcome to 5 Tips for Building an Anti-racist Culture in Your Fundraising and Development Team with Kia Croom. This workshop is being recorded and slides will be shared afterwards. So, please, keep your eyes peeled for a follow-up email later today in case you'd like to review anything.
In case it's your first time here, this free workshop is an Instrumentl partner workshop. These are collaborations between Instrumentl and community partners to provide free educational opportunities for nonprofit professionals. Our goal is to tackle problem that folks often have to solve for while also sharing different ways that Instrumentl’s platform can help grant writers win more grants.
Instrumentl is the institutional fundraising platform. If you want to bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place, we can help you do that. And you can set up your own personalized grant recommendations using Kia’s link on the screen here.
Lastly, be sure to stick around for today's presentation. At the end, we will be sharing for you some freebie resources that accompany this presentation as well as resources from Instrumentl. More details to come at the end.
Now, with that housekeeping out of the way, I'm very excited to introduce Kia Croom. Kia is an experienced fun development executive with over 20 years of experience. To date, she's raised nearly half a billion dollars for nonprofits of all sizes nationwide in a variety of cause areas including STEM, housing and homelessness, youth development, education, HIV AIDS, and more. She's worked in a host of development functions including but not limited to major gifts, grant writing, creative messaging and content writing, along with digital marketing, and our favorite, brokering high impact corporate strategic path partnerships. Kia is incredibly passionate about racial and philanthropic justice and philanthropy, and interested in working with agencies committed to addressing anti-black racism, specifically by uplifting, strengthening, and supporting black-led nonprofit organizations.
We ask that if you have any questions along the way, to feel free and add three hashtags in front of them to make them stand out in the Zoom chat. I will also be sharing an anonymous form in the case where you just want to ask any question but you don't want to tie your name in the Zoom chat. And I'll share that throughout the presentation as well so that you can make sure that your question gets asked. With that, Kia, feel free to take it away.
Kia: All right. I am delighted to be here with you today. Delighted that you're taking time out of your day to hang out with me and Instrumentl. Everything that Will already said, you got it. I don't need to drill down on that. Uh-oh, wait a minute, how do I -- okay, here we go.
Welcome to 5 Tips for Building an Inclusive & Anti-racist Culture Within Your Fundraising Team. And I just want to share with you all, I am going to share, this isn't conjecture. Okay? I'm going to share with you a combination of what I've learned in formal training, and a combination of what I have experienced and observed, right, with my own lived experience. I'm going to leverage that. And perhaps, at some point, the experiences of my peers, women and men of color, predominantly women of color who are having some of the most encountering challenges with the lack of inclusion within organizations. Right? So, I'll be happy to share some real life examples with you. And I hope that enriches your learning experience.
So, let's get into what we are going to accomplish together. We're going to get into a little bit of research and receipts. Why? Because again, as I shared, some of this is very much research based. We're going to get into some shared language so that we're operating within the same definitions. I know there's a lot of words that we use when we talk about DEI. So, it's important to level set and get on one accord with the language. We'll get into our five tips for building an inclusive and anti-racist work culture or climate, and then we'll take a look at some of the benefits of embracing anti-racism. And we'll get into a queue for a little bit of Q&A at the end here.
And as you did it, please make note of what we'll share with regard to using three hashtags to make your question stand out or using the anonymous tool to get your questions through. For those who don't necessarily want to do that, feel free to just hashtag it up and drop your questions in the chat.
Let's take a quick look at our ground rules. I want to reiterate that this is a safe space. Consider this your learning and training ground, right? I often hear, particularly from white people, that there's some discomfort in asking certain questions or having people that they can go to. Bring them. Bring your questions. Let this be a training ground and learning place, right? We’re operating under the assumption that questions are rooted in the best intentions. And I do want to share that this will be an honest discussion. I intend to be very honest and transparent with you. And finally, the content being discussed and presented here is not designed to “make anybody feel bad.” However, I do want to lift up the fact that discomfort is very much a part of this, right, when it's working at its best. There is some discomfort that you will experience, right? It's all in how you handle and harness your discomfort when you're having these types of conversations. And I do want to lift up that, well, the content isn't designed to make anyone “feel bad,” right? There are people of color. Like myself. I'm a black female fundraiser working in an industry that you all know and love, like I know and love, but it has its inherent biases. It definitely has a racist underbelly which is very pronounced in different places and spaces. And I'm oftentimes made to feel uncomfortable as are other people of color.
So, I wanted to just ground in these truths here and let them be our north star throughout this presentation. I thought I'd share just a little bit about myself. As you can see here, some fun facts about myself, things that I love. If you listen to my podcast, The Black Fundraisers’ Podcast, or the Fundraising and Marketing Playbook, you'll know I'm a big, unabashed lover of rap, classically trained national journalist. You probably didn't know I'm an empty nester. I've got a beautiful son who has just become such an incredible young man. He's going to be leaving the nest soon. He's got a buddy who also lives here with us. So I guess I could say I have two sons, if you will. Even though he's not biologically mine and lives with us, I do consider him mine and love him just the same. And I'm so proud of both of them.
So, I’ll be an empty nester soon. Woop, woop, woop. And you get the picture. I love the beach. I try to go every quarter. I love cooking. So, I love my cornbread and collard greens, country girl at heart. Just a little bit about me so you know who's presenting to you here.
So, let's get into this research and receipts. I don't know if you are familiar with Blue State Media’s Research. If you're not, get to know them. They are a wonderful, wonderful resource. I think about a year ago, they conducted a study to assess the risk and rewards of embracing anti-racism. What do you think they fail? Let's find out together.
Their research indicated that 68% of their respondents strongly agree with the strong case for equity and inclusion, and indicated that they would prefer, right, or support organizations that embrace DEI in their work and in their mission. Right? I want you to just put a pin in that.
When we talk about receipts, right, it's one thing to look at a data point. It's another thing to live with workplace trauma. Raise your hand if you've experienced it. Right? And I'm saying that to you, but I can't see you, right? But I got both of my hands up. I put my feet up, if I could, because I've experienced it considerably throughout my fundraising career. And guess who else is reeling from the perpetration of workplace ratio trauma? Women of color, right? What are the women of color saying? An overwhelming majority of them self-report experiences with racism at work that run the gamut from being discriminated against based on how they dress, their weight, the way that they style their hair, et cetera.
And this article with the Harvard Business Review paints that picture, right? I encourage you to grab that article. Take a read in your spare time. But what are these women of color saying? They’re saying that they're exhausted. They're isolated. They feel alone. They're in pain. They're crying. They're just feeling very unsupported. Right? And what does that -- what is the consequence of that, right? When you got a group of people who are not having lived experience with inclusion within their workplace, within their teams, within their organizations, they're dotting the door. And they're dotting the door at alarming rates. And when we think about the consequence of people leaving organizations or even leaving the industry, that translates to incredible talent that's going out the door.
I actually read an article, and I can't really think of where. If it comes to me, I'll share it with you all. But this article talked about the fact that during the pandemic, right, and even now, more and more women of color are leaving their jobs and starting their own businesses or starting their own consultancies because they want to experience psychological safety. They've had it with racism and white supremacy. Right?
So with all that being said, we’ve got some empirical research. And we've got some more anecdotal research, which I think makes a really strong business case for not just the moral case, right, but also the business case. The moral case being an organization, a leader or a manager, should be committed to creating an inclusive team dynamic, an inclusive climate, an equitable climate, right? And then we see as a -- oh, to a business case, those data points from Blue State Media suggest that even donors are feeling it, right, and wanting to see more inclusion and equity in the organizations that they support.
We're going to take a moment and get into a little bit of Shared Language. Inclusion. The way that I look at the inclusion and define inclusion in my education and training is that it's a relational construct. Okay? Yes, it translates to -- or as parallel to feelings of belongingness, right? I belong. I feel welcome. I feel valued here. I feel as though my ideas and my brain trust is celebrated. However, it's truly a relational construct that really deals more or less with the quality of the relationships within the team. What do I mean by that? The quality of the team dynamics. The quality of the connections that people experience to one another, right? The quality of and the value proposition of learning from one another and learning about one's culture and celebrating once lived experience, right? That openness to learn and zeal to learn and embrace other cultures, right? Very different from belonging. Okay? Which, again, deals within my value. Do I feel as though I have a place here? Is my uniqueness celebrated? Right? Can I come to work with a half-shaved head razor lines and blue fingernails and bright colors and feel accepted as a black woman within a team, right? Am I really valued? And is my value integrated within this team and even celebrate it. Right? I just want to distinguish between those two, inclusion versus belonging.
Psychological safety is critical. This is a make or break, right, construct. When you talk about creating an inclusive and equitable environment or equitable climate or equitable culture, you'll hear me refer to all three. Just notice they're one and the same. I use them interchangeably.
Psychological safety is the freedom to be and express myself without fear of consequence or retaliation. It's my ability to ask the difficult questions and not feel as though my manager is going to put a demerit by my name behind the screen, right, behind the Zoom monitor or make a list and keep it twice because he or she or they are pissed off that I asked a tough question, right? It’s feeling as though when I see one of my co-workers being targeted or being discriminated against or having an encounter with a racist colleague that I can provide bystander intervention and stand in. Right? Be an ally or an accomplice without the fear of being punished or targeted, right? It's really a make-or-break construct. And we'll talk more about psychological safety and the consequences if it is not present. The consequences are such that people will self-censure and will not bring their first fruits and their ideas and their concerns to the table. So, psychological safety is critical.
An inclusive culture, aka, inclusive climate. What is that? When we're thinking about creating an inclusive climate, we're thinking about an environment in which there are norms, there are standards. And they are pronounced that racism isn't tolerated here. Discrimination is not tolerated here. Biases are not acceptable, right? When we're using them -- because there's a difference between prejudices and biases, right? But we want to -- when biases are being used in a way that's discriminating and blocking opportunities or preventing others from thriving, those kinds of behaviors are not welcomed in an inclusive climate, right? Why? Because we strive to have that inclusive climate where folks enjoy psychological safety and are experiencing belongingness. Right? And celebrated for their uniqueness and unique contributions. So, it's important that we -- in building these climates, these inclusive, equitable, anti-racist climates that we have very strong norms that are unabashed. And folks are unabashed and welcomed and encouraged to block out white supremacy and racism whenever it rears its ugly head. Are you with me?
I'd like to take a quick poll. Where is your organization in its DEI journey? Where is your organization in its DEI journey? Yes, we have policies and systems to enforce in measured DEI. It's a work in progress. I'm sorry. The question is has your organization taken steps to operationalize DEI? Okay? So, yes, we have policies and systems. Yes, we're a work in progress. Not quite, but we're talking about it. We're warming up to it. We're not sure where to start. This hasn't even been a topic or a discussion. I'd like for you to respond to this poll, submit your responses. And at some point, we'll get the results of that poll. So, please, by all means, participate in this poll.
Okay. And our poll results have been shared with us. It looks like the majority of us on the call are acknowledging that it's a work in progress. Okay. I celebrate that. A small proportion, 15%, but I'm encouraged nonetheless by that 15%, has codified policies to enforce and measure DEI. We've got a small segment 18% that says not quite. But we're talking about it. You’re warming up to it. And it looks like we're neck and neck. I’m not sure how or where to start with 77% of respondents and 5% of respondents who have not considered nor talked about this.
Thank you for doing that. This helps me in my presentation and delivery just to give some ideas throughout. And, again, I'm going to leverage some deeply personal experiences of my own with inclusion and/or the lack thereof in the workplace. Thank you for doing that. Okay. Let me make sure I'm in the right place. All right. So, let's get into our five tips. Are you with me? If you’re with me, give me a thumbs up, a what, what, or something in the chat as we get into our five tips for building an anti-racist culture.
Number one, managers must, if you're making notes, I want you to put must in all caps. Managers must lead with inclusion. What do I mean by that? Right? Because remember, inclusion is that relational construct, right? Remember, we're looking at how people interact and interface in the degree to which folks are wanting to get to know and learn about others and respecting one another's lived experiences and culture.
So, what should that inclusive leader be modeling? Let's get into these behaviors. Number one, the manager must create opportunities for team insights. What do you mean by that, Kia? Meaning, the manager must create space, whether it's before a meeting, right, whether it's after a meeting, opportunities to share individuating data about one another. And it could be as simple as talking about everyone's passions. For instance, if we were all in a room together and you were to say, “You know what, Kia, tell us about your impetus for the work that you do in the nonprofit and philanthropy space.” I tell you, I grew up in poverty in the 80s. I saw things. I experienced things. And those experiences shaped me to be who I am, a champion for equity, right?
So, it's incompetent for a manager to create those opportunities for the team to just kind of be present where we put pretentiousness to the side, where we put our job titles to the side, and we just show up as people that genuinely want to get to know and learn about one another. Because here's what happens, in doing so, we learn that while we're different, right? There are some respects that we’re a lot more relaxed than we thought of. Perhaps somebody loves apple pie on the team. I love apple pie, right? We might start swapping recipes, or we might have a bake off. Right? We're breaking down walls when we create opportunities for team insights.
An inclusive manager must also articulate clear standards for inclusive behavior, right? Modeling it, walking it out, right? Meaning, inclusive behavior is listening to everyone's question or giving folks an opportunity to speak without being fed off and interrupted. Right? How many remember the confirmation hearings for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson? His sister was constantly interrupted at different times by some of our legislators, some of our congressional leaders, right, some of the heads in the Senate. That inclusive leader is going to create clear standards and ground rules that those kinds of behaviors are not tolerated. Not only are they rude, not only do they cause people to self-censure and to shrink, right? But they are also inhibitors to inclusion. And where they're inhibitors to inclusion, inhibitors to inclusion are like weeds in your yard. You got to get them up by the route and get them out.
The inclusive leader must also promote psychological safety. Remember, I shared that that is a biggie. Okay? Psychological safety, meaning, this inclusive leader must model that this is a safe space. People's views and perspectives are accepted and welcomed and there's no punishment, right? That people can share their thoughts and ideas and concerns without being hailed in some kind of contempt. And lastly, an inclusive leader celebrates diversity in thought or diverse perspectives and harnesses those as a strength.
I want you to take a moment and think. What would your team be like if everybody saw it just like you? Right? Somebody on here might be thinking, “Okay. Well, it might be easy peasy.” Yeah, it might be easy peasy. But there was someone who once said, “Nothing worth having is worth working for.” Right? And I, in 22 years of fundraising, can't think of a time in which I wanted everybody. I mean, everybody, to agree and say the same thing as me. More often than not, I welcome those diversity of thought, that diversity of ideas. And I'm going to let you in on a secret. It made me better. It made for better strategies that garnered better results. Right?
Let's get into number two. The inclusive leader must, again, another capital M-U-S-T. He, she, or they must assess the inclusiveness of their team. And he, she, they must do so honestly and be honest with themselves. So, what are some ways to do that? What are some things to look for? Well, let's look for status cues, right? Who is that person within the team whose voice is always being heard? And maybe trumping the voices of others? Right? No pun intended. I didn't mean to bring it up, but this is a real thing. Right? You’re trumping or stepping on the toes of others, right, within the team. Where is that happening and who's doing it?
When it comes to delegating tasks within the team, who's burdened and who's benefiting? For instance, are the women on the team the only people that are being asked and engaged around taking notes, right? Who's bearing the burden? And who's carrying the benefits? The inclusive leader has to take a hard look at those dynamics and be honest about them, right?
What behaviors are rearing their head, their ugly head -- well, what behaviors are rearing their head that either contribute to and support inclusion or inhibit inclusion? Things like somebody is constantly speaking over a person, right? Or someone who's constantly dominating the conversation. And we'll talk about some of these behaviors a little later in the presentation. But these are just a few clues to look for. Right?
And when this inclusive leader -- because this is the linear process, the inclusive leader is constantly assessing the environment. This isn't something that you just do one and done. You're constantly spot checking, especially as your organism, your team is shaped and molded by the dynamics taking place within the organization. Right? And one thing I want to stop here and point out to you all is that you can do everything within your power as a manager to build an inclusive and anti-racist climate within your team. But if that is not a shared value at the top with your C suite, with your CEO, your ED, or otherwise, it’s not likely to be experienced at the organization level. Meaning, people in your team might experience inclusion, right? And I had this experience where I felt comfortable wearing my African headdress in my team. But when it came time to be in the room in an all-staff meeting, I might not have necessarily felt that way, right? I might not have necessarily felt comfortable doing so. Right? While we can accomplish this within a team, it's important that the organization as a whole be on board is all I'm simply saying here.
Now, back to what this inclusive manager should look for. I'm sorry, what methods are useful to assess the climate? It's as simple as just having an informal conversation, checking in with an employee. How are you feeling? How did you feel the conversation within the team went? And then stop talking. Listen presently, right? Listen with your ears and listen with your heart.
It can also come in the form of focus groups, surveys, asking the team as a whole, or like I said, those informal on-the-spot assessments where you just check in and just be a human being and check in with your subordinates or your colleagues, et cetera. Right? And I've got a question for using at the bottom. Where is the pay? The inclusive leader is looking for the pay. Who might have been a victim of workplace racial trauma or any kind of trauma? What kind of healing? What kind of resources might support their healing? And how is that impacting them? Is it making them want to cowl and be less participatory as a result? The inclusive manager is looking for these things, right?
The inclusive manager is going to do all that is possible to create those clear standards for inclusiveness. I call them inclusive rules of engagement. And these are vital to stamping out racism. And below here, I included a number of behaviors that should be discouraged and that should be reinforced. Right? I talked about interrupting. I talked about dominance posturing where one person is always monopolizing the conversation, kind of filibustering and never allows anyone to say that. And I want to digress for a moment and share my own lived experience with dominance posturing.
I'll never forget, I was in a team -- I was in a meeting. It wasn't a team meeting. I was in a meeting with my white male supervisor. And there were some donors and some prospective donors in the room. And this white male supervisor, my whole team is assembled. We're in the meeting. But none of us got a word in edgewise. We might as well have been the window dressing in the window in that particular board room. We sat there. We never had an opportunity to even introduce ourselves. He went down the team and pointed to each one of us and shared our names for us, right? And as this was going on, you could kind of -- if you're a person that reads the room, you can kind of read the room and gather that folks were a little bit uncomfortable, right? Like, okay, this is kind of weird. Is anybody else going to say anything at all? This is creepy, right? But this person doesn't want to read the room. So, he continued to talk in the entire meeting. And at the end of the meeting, there was a line of people wanting to talk to me. They came to me and said, “Listen, it's an awful shame that I didn't get to hear from you. I'd like to know more about you. And I hate that I didn't get the opportunity.
And in so many words, folks were saying -- and some of these folks were white. Some of them weren't like, gosh, it's a shame that this guy didn't allow you to get a word in edgewise. And I'm also sorry. Right? They were embarrassed for me almost, right? Dominance posturing.
We've all heard of microaggressions. Right? In addition to dominance posturing. The pejorative terms that folks use when -- I have people tell me often, “You're very articulate.” It might not necessarily mean to be condescending, or so forth. But those kinds of comments are, right? Micro affirmations, right? I want to go back to microaggressions for a minute because I hear about microaggressions most often. The most common microaggression that I hear is women of color being cut off, right? Or people of color in general. You're in a meeting. You're contributing. You’re being cut off. Your supervisor says, “Okay, we're moving on,” as though he, she, or they kind of rejected or dismissed your contribution.
Got another quick story to share. I’ll never forget. I was in a meeting. This was post George Floyd. This was during that racial reckoning. And a manager did that exact thing to me. I raised a perfectly valuable great strategy in a meeting, and the response I got was, “Okay, moving on.” And a colleague of mine demonstrated bystander intervention. She said, “Wait a minute, excuse me. She had raised a very valid comment and you just moved on as though it was yesterday's news? I want to go back to her comment. And let's seriously consider what she's talking about before we move on.” Very uncomfortable moment. But I was so grateful that she did that because I was exhausted with being treated that way within that team. Okay? Perfect example of bystander intervention in the case of a microaggression being perpetrated on someone.
Just as dastardly as microaggressions or micro affirmations, those affirmations that folks give to suggest if they acknowledge and they agree with what some people are saying, right, but not what other people are having to say. Right? You lean in and you're nodding when one particular or a couple of people are saying things. But when others are saying things, you’re stoned, you’re ice cold, you're unengaged. You may not even be present, right? Those are micro-affirmations, right? I didn't want to skip over withholding information. This happens. Setting people up for the okey-doke or to failure. It happens to folks, right? The inclusive manager is making sure that people aren't hoarding information. When it comes to exclusion that folks aren't being excluded from meetings, that they're being engaged and encouraged to participate in all facets of the team.
What should be reinforced? Standing up for one another, as I shared with you, a white ally did for me when I was micro aggressed by a white male supervisor, right? Not only that, she asked before we moved on, “Are you satisfied? Do you feel like we can move on? Do you feel heard?” Right? Standing up for one another.
Silo-busting? Right? Collaborating. No silos. Right? Giving one another the benefit of the doubt assuming that folks have the best intention. We talked a little bit about that earlier. And just demonstrating care and concern for your fellow man or woman or otherwise, right? Being there, just being a good old salt of the earth human being in demonstrating kindness to one another. An inclusive manager creates the rules of engagement that guide the tide. Right? Very, very important.
Now, that inclusive manager, those inclusive standards, those rules of engagement, they're not necessarily just limited to how you interact with one another within the team. They're also very relevant to the work products that you're curating and producing as a team, right? For instance, direct mail appeals. I realize there may be fundraisers on the team that play a role in content creation or creative brief production, right? And when we're doing so, that inclusive manager is making certain that these creatives are free of those denigrating terms, right, that denigrate or relegate people like poor or vulnerable or at risk youth. Was I in at risk youth having grown up in poverty? Was I poor or vulnerable?
I don't like to be referred to as such, right? Rather, I prefer that an organization refer to the contextual factors that contributed to me living in poverty. So, I'm never writing about black and brown people whose children are such as poor or vulnerable. I'm talking about the inequitable systems and characterizing them for being ambitious and overcoming and zealous, and all of these wonderful things, right, in spite of the inequity they're faced with. Right?
That inclusive leader is committed to that. There's no holds barred. Those pejorative denigrated terms are banished, right? And this inclusive manager and the team is committed to assets frames narrative. And if you're not familiar with assets framing, I encourage you to do a good old Google. Look up a brother that I adore and celebrate. His name is Trabian Shorters. He's got a whole canon of resources on assets based framing and why that is important, why it's important to characterize people based on their ambitions and goals rather than the things that demoralize and present barriers for them, right?
Last but not least, that inclusive leader, again, is reinforcing these two. Not using the pejorative terms, embracing assets based, assets framed, assets based narrative and prohibiting the white savior narratives that center whiteness and denigrate black and brown constituents.
Now, if I had to give you a picture of what those look like, it looks like -- how many remember those commercials that would come on in the middle of the night? Right? Where they would show the malnourished kids, right? Regardless of what continent, what country they were in. And they've got the white person that's bringing the water or giving them a piece of fruit or a piece of meat, right? Those images center on whiteness and reinforced racism and white supremacy and overstate the ability of the donors. They suggest that the white savior being the white donor, right, they really give more power to that donor in changing these circumstances and changing the narrative in ways that don't do that story justice. I hope that makes sense to somebody. The inclusive leader is codifying in clear standards that prohibit these tactics.
The inclusive leader creates a clear system of rewards and punishment. How are you celebrating employees and model inclusion? How are you disciplining those who do not? In meetings, I was in an organization once that would have these monthly meetings where folks would be celebrated and given a gift card or an award based on exemplary behaviours they model, right? Standing in the gap and supporting colleagues. That's a reward, right?
A discipline, I don't think I have to get into disciplinary measures, whether you're being written up, whether you're being asked to apologize or public -- whatever the case may be, right? The inclusive leader is modeling that.
And finally, the inclusive leader will prioritize equity and inclusion when recruiting new talent. He, she, or they are incredibly mindful of where they’re marketing their opportunities, are those vehicles those that attract diverse talent? The inclusive leader is putting his, or her, their money where their mouth is and procuring services and commodities from historically marginalized racial and social groups even, right, in the spirit of equity and inclusion. And I already talked to you at length about what the inclusive leader is doing to ensure that inclusion is modelled in their creatives and marketing, right?
Lastly, the inclusive leader is committed to codifying KPIs that measure inclusion. Whether we're talking about diverse hires, whether we're talking about diverse suppliers, whether we're talking about the number of team builds we do to promote diversity. There's some empirical research that we can hang our hats on.
And I'm going to talk really briefly about the benefits of an inclusive strategy. Number one, we’re retaining the top talent, right? Diverse talent, right? Who could use some diverse fundraising professionals in their team right now? Who can benefit from that diversity of thought, right? It's a win-win. I can assure you. And we saw with Blue State Media the value proposition for embracing anti-racism and appealing to different racial and ethnic and social groups as prospective donors. Number three, we're helping to dismantle systems of oppression. And number four, increased employee engagement and productivity.
And I've seen this firsthand with my own two eyes. Employees who feel as though they're working in an inclusive and equitable environment tend to be motivated and show up. Right? Here's a slide that I put in here just for musing, something to think about in your quiet moments. And to look at where you really stand, right, in this journey, or questions that you might want to ask of your manager or your team. Right? When you're in conversations, who's trying to get in the room but can’t?
A question that I asked my team all the time is, whose voice haven't we heard? I want to hear from you. And sometimes I call on a person, right, to say, “Listen, what are your thoughts about this? I'd love to hear from you. We haven't heard your voice represented in the conversation. And we very much want to.” Right?
I just hope this is helpful when you think about all of this and take all of this in. DEI and belonging. Remember, feeling valued, having that can boost connections to one another.
And I hope that you have found value in this. We talked a little bit about qualitative and quantitative data regarding the value proposition for embracing anti-racism. We talked about that moral case and that business case. And in this case, I think that two things can be true at one time, right, and both need to be considered. We got an understanding of why that moral and business case are so important in our journeys for embracing equity, inclusion, and anti-racism.
And I share my five tips with you for building an inclusive and anti-racist culture within your fundraising team. I encourage you to reach out to me. This is my email. You all got my LinkedIn. You got all that you should need to get in touch with me. I'm happy to answer any questions you have. Because I'm genuinely committed to ensuring that this sector gets this right. Because the mantle and the work that we are called to do is too important for us to be losing genuine, wonderful salt of the earth committed people, because they're not having inclusive -- experiencing inclusion at work. I can't afford to lose those folks. You can't afford to lose them. So, we're going to get this right as a sector.
And I think, Will, I'm going to pass this over to you.
Will: Yeah, real quick. We have a ton of questions. So, I'll be quick about this section.
In the case where you are new to us today and this is your first Instrumentl partner workshop, we are Instrumentl. We bring grant prospecting, tracking, and management to one place. And if you are looking to uplevel your grant approach, feel free to check out Kia’s link, which has been shared in the slide deck as well as in the Zoom chat. And what folks typically find is that they are finding a ton of good fit funders. There are also DEI grants on Instrumentl as well. So, you can check those out as well.
And if you go to the next slide, Kia, for attending our workshop today -- Kia, can you go ahead and move to the next slide there?
Kia: Absolutely. We're going to go on through this. I included a freebie that just reiterates what are those inclusive behaviors that we want to ensure are being modelled and demonstrated. And what are those inhibitors, those high chains that should be discouraged? So, you're at liberty to download that and use that, share it with your team. Have I gotten to the last slide here?
Will: Yeah, that’s the last slide. So, I'll put that link in the chat in case you are looking for more there. Katie, if you use that Instrumentl.com/r/kia link, that will let you create your free account and you can get your personalized grant recommendations from there.
I'm going to go ahead and start jumping into the Q&A because we've got a lot of questions to work through.
Kia: Happy to do it.
Will: So, Kia, first question for you. From Vicki, can you share the Blue State Media's website? Vicki was struggling to find that.
Kia: Yeah. Would somebody find that? I don't want to go off screen and screw up and end up hanging up on you all on the Zoom. So, if somebody could help with that, Google Blue State Media, research on the case for Equity and Inclusion.
Next question, please.
Will: Sure. And you can also email Kia in a case where you still can't find it afterwards.
Kia: Absolutely. Absolutely. Next question.
Will: Rey asked, I find that there are a lot of times where black or persons of color employees have the burden of moving the organization closer to a more inclusive and equitable culture. Can you share ways that a person of color can encourage their co-workers to do their own work or engage with creating an anti-racist culture without relying on or putting that burden on the employees of color?
Kia: Absolutely. It is a very, very bad practice to do that. And I don't think that I need to talk about what. Well, no, I'm going to talk about why. For someone to assume that the people that are impacted by an issue should be resolving that issue when it's really not their issue is a cardinal sin. And I've experienced it. I've seen it happen.
And what I encourage people to do -- and it can't be just the black people or the people of color. This is where we need white allies to say, “Listen, this isn't a job that our black counterparts, or our Asian, or our Latin X counterparts should be tasked with fixing. Let's put some resources towards hiring. There are a ton of remarkable diversity consultants, DEI consultants, to really help us get a handle on this.
Thank you for that question.
Will: Vicki asked, wouldn't DEI always be a work in progress? Going back to that poll question set earlier.
Kia: It absolutely should be a work in progress. It absolutely should be. It's a linear journey. It absolutely should be.
Next question, please.
Will: An anonymous question was asked, we have policies and systems but they aren't followed. Any suggestions on what you do here?
Kia: You’ve got to call that out. And what I generally encourage people to do is to find the allies, right? Who was that person within the organization that has the status and the “gravitas,” right, that shares, that is committed to inclusion, right? And seeing that its model to call that out, right? So many times, organizations do the work, check a box, and operate business as usual. And folks are like, “Okay. Well, what did we just invest in that strategy for?” It takes people to call it out.
Now, I have seen a push-pull take place where you've got your mid level or junior folks. I have seen instances where mid level and junior employees have been very instrumental in pushing and applying pressure at the top to make some change, make some organizational strides. But I think that when it works best is when those committed to operationalizing inclusion can identify that ally, right? Hopefully, there is an ally within that leadership team that can, in some cases, provide cover, right, for folks that might become a target. I mean, let's just be real and beat the drum of justice and call that out.
I hope that helps.
Will: Andrea asked, what are safe or respectful ways to bring your manager’s attention to blind spots they have to include on a team?
Kia: A safe way to do it. I don't know if there's a safe way to do it. But I'm not a person that plays it safe. If you can't tell by necessarily looking at me, you might consider asking your supervisor or manager if they're comfortable -- permission, right? How many people are familiar with the Verita’s way of major gift fundraising? Right? I imagine some of you on the chat are. What I would consider doing is just saying, “Listen, I love to give you some feedback, because feedback goes both ways, and have that conversation with them. Right? That would be the way that I dealt with that.
For someone who might be a little bit uncomfortable doing that, you might want to document those instances, right? And if you see a continuing theme here that really needs to be addressed in a very formal sense, you might have to escalate those things to human resources. And I want to share with you that this is kind of one of those things where when you see things happening, that counter that -- these racist encounters, when you see white supremacy rearing its head, right, and impacting folks, sometimes it is. In most cases, it is better to just go the full mile and document it and have that person call to the road and discipline for that behavior. Otherwise, things aren't necessarily likely to change. I have had that experience and had to really swallow my fears and say, “You know what? If I'm putting the target on my back, so be it. But this has to stop.”
But again, I was at that point, and I realized that everyone is in their own journey with this, within their lived experiences. So, I would just encourage discretion and some real soul searching around where you are on that and what you feel led to do to get a different result, right, to quail and to curtail those behaviors?
Will: Awesome. And we've got a couple more questions. I'll ask as many as I can. But if you cannot get your question asked in time, I'm putting Kia’s email in the chat as well in the case where your question has not gotten to.
Bridget asked, “Can you share more examples of questions or activities to help get team insights?”
Kia: Yeah. I mean, I have done things like have folks bring baby pictures to a meeting. Right? Share your baby pictures and memories from your childhood. Just simply asking folks, what contributed -- you don't want to ask somebody why they're here. You want to find out why they're here. Meaning, why are you working inside of a children's organization? Or what prompted your -- what is your impetus for working with the children and youth organization, or a child welfare organization, or a domestic violence organization? And you may have some watershed moments. Having a potluck is an opportunity. I don't know how many folks are back in the office. But things like that, that just allow us to just kind of be present and get to know one another.
Will: Awesome. Alex asked, “Can you talk more about micro-affirmations? They were put on the discouraged side.”
Kia: Micro-affirmations are not positive. Micro-affirmation, I’ll try to paint the picture, it is a picture of me in a meeting with my white male counterparts. I'm the only black female within the team, right? And whenever I say something, I give the ice grill and the poker face. But when my other co-workers, my other male white male counterparts are sharing, folks are all but high-fiving one another and constantly nodding. But when I have something to say, their body language suggests that they're just totally disinterested in hearing what I have to say. That should be discouraged.
Next question, please.
Will: And this will be our last question and an honest one, which is why I want to prioritize it. At my last two organizations, I think organizational leadership genuinely believes they're committed to anti-racism. And yet, there continues to be areas where entrenched culture and resistance to change perpetuates racism. How do we move forward in organizations where the appearance of progress maybe rather than the reality?
Kia: Is your -- what I would ask that individual is were the efforts to prioritize equity inclusion, diversity, was that work done internally? Did you work with a third-party consultant? Because my experience has been this, when we did the work internally, our efforts were swept under the rug, right? There wasn't any investment or any outlay. There wasn't any buy in from the board, right, from the employees, from the -- I won't say there wasn't buy in. The contributions, I would say, that we would have benefited from having trained facilitators help us to operationalize inclusion, right, inclusion and equity in action.
When that didn't happen, it was like the case -- there wasn't such a strong case for changing behaviors. There wasn't a charter established. There weren't metrics established that, in essence, hold the organization accountable. So, what I would want to -- I would want to know a little bit more, and I would find ways to -- if you're in a position to, if you're in a leadership capacity, for instance, to encourage that. And I would really take a good, hard honest look at whether or not you as an employee as one person, right, can really shepherd this. Or even if you sync up with a couple of employees you can really shepherd this. Because my lived experience has been complete exhaustion, right, with that very dynamic. And at some point, that exhaustion almost cost me to leave the sector and leave the work that I've done. And I've done some incredible things.
So, I would ask that individual who posted that question a couple of things. Number one, just at a glance, did the organization invest in resources? Did they invest in consultants to really embed this within the organization? If that was the case and that didn't happen, or even if you all manage this internally and tried to change, which I never recommend organizations do. I would encourage you, if you feel it's worth it, to enlist the support and the service of a professional, right? To talk to your leadership and look at doing that, hiring a consultant to do this work, right?
And remember, this is landing your work. This work, you may not see all the fruits and the benefits of that work during your tenure. Right? It may be that the person that comes behind you reaps the benefits of that inclusive culture. But before you invest any further, I would want you to assess your psychological safety, your mental health because this work can be exhausting. And it's running a lot of people out of the sector. And to really look at that and look at, is this environment the right environment for you? Or is it time to find happiness elsewhere?
Will: With that, we are at time. Kia, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you to everyone for tuning in. And look out for the slides and replays regarding this presentation in just a few days from now. Hopefully, if you enjoyed this, you'll be back next week as we talk with Chad Barger in terms of productivity tips and more.
All right. Thank you so much, everybody. And if you have any follow-up questions for Kia, feel free to email her. The email has been shared and will also be shared later on in the replan slides. All right. Have a great day, rest of the day, everybody.
Kia: Thank you, all.
Will: Bye now.