On November 2, 2019, CSUEB's Nonprofit Management Certificate Program will introduce a new course--Creating a Culture of Change: Fostering DEI in the Workplace. Program Director Renee Rubin Ross reached out to course instructor Sonia Mañjon, who serves as the Director of LeaderSpring Center, to learn more about course content and need for this course.
Renee: So tell us about the course - what kind of information do you share? What will students take away? How will it strengthen the work of students who are working in the nonprofit sector or want to work in the nonprofit sector?
Sonia: Creating a Culture of Change: Fostering DEI in the workplace is a course that will help students understand what it means to have an equity lens. Starting with empathy in the workplace to facilitating difficult conversations and modeling empathetic listening, we can move into understanding the four levels of racism/oppression and implicit bias, and end with identifying and altering structural racial inequity. This class will assist students in developing a framework for planning and implementation of diversity, equity and inclusion practices that promote and produce culture change in the organization infrastructure. We will explore DEI frameworks, assessments, and scorecards currently being used. Students will interrogate their organization’s culture with respect to DEI and develop a tool kit that can be used to promote change.
Renee: For those who are not familiar with DEI, can you share some background on conversations happening in the nonprofit sector about racial equity and racial justice?
Sonia: DEI has been around over the past 40 years. Back in the day, 1970’s and 80’s, it was referred to as multiculturalism or cultural pluralism. The lens was social justice, which limited the authentic inclusion of racial equity and justice. I don’t believe social justice can be achieved if we are not paying attention to racial justice. The nonprofit sector is beginning to understand the correlations between under-funding and demographic changes, and the racial and gender leadership gaps. Recent studies from the Building Movement Project, Fund the People, TSNE Mission Works, and American Association of University Women (AAUW) show that people of color and women have equivalent qualifications to their white, male counterparts and express greater eagerness to lead nonprofits. These studies put the onus on organizations to combat systems of oppression by incorporating policies and practices that promote diversity and inclusion. Foundations are also coming on board and placing DEI front and center. The San Francisco Foundation established the Bay Area Equity Atlas and have worked with community leaders to develop a comprehensive and easy-to-use data and policy tool to help create a more equitable Bay Area.
LeaderSpring Center has adopted a racial equity priority and developed a hallmark methodology for service delivery centered on an asset-based approach and a belief in the strengths of leaders and organizations that posit power as developing from a place of strength, capacity, and talent. Our theory of organizational culture transformation is driven by racial equity and social justice and occurs in 5 over lapping phases from a catalytic spark. All phases are critical to create sustained transformed culture. The theory also requires engagement at all levels beginning with executive and senior management level leadership. Transformation for diversity, equity and inclusion occur when individual changes are supported by structural accountability.
Renee: Why is this course needed now?
Sonia: Nonprofit leaders of color are increasingly facing funding limitations for their organizations. This is due in part to philanthropic giving that does not reflect population diversity. Data shows the rapid growth of nonwhite groups in the United States, which is projected to become a minority-majority country by 2044. It also shows the stark contrast between the percentage of people of color in the United States and the amount of foundational funding—less than five percent—granted to nonprofits led by people of color annually. The amount of funding given to POC-led nonprofits has been stagnant for the past decade, a funding trend that directly contradicts demographic trends.
Given the future of the nation’s demographics, the U.S. will have to rely on all its inhabitants to remain viable, creative, innovative, and well-positioned on the world stage. Adequate funding for non-profit organizations led by and serving communities of color should be a top priority now. This precursor to what’s to come serves as a segue into another critical aspect of the non-profit sector as it relates to racial and ethnic diversity.
Traditionally, the social sector addressed its lack of diversity by arguing that people of color and women needed additional training to advance professionally. This framework put responsibility for the equity gap on those facing discrimination. To create robust solutions, we need theories of change that pursues a preferred future of equitable systems that honor human dignity. This future occurs through the thoughtful cultivation of four change-levers: Personal transformation, organizational and structural transformation; and collaborative networks.
The demographic changes the nation is undergoing are not stopping; this is a time to act. DEI strategies through an equity lens will not only serve those who have been underserved and undermined, it will serve the U.S. well when it is a minority-majority country. This demographic equalizer must be matched with equalizing strategies that remove barriers to advancement, place value in diversity, and pursue growth through inclusion and equity.
Renee: You haven't taught the course yet -- but based on what you've learned about CSUEB's students from teaching the Nonprofit Leadership course, what kinds of responses and questions are you anticipating?
Sonia: I’ve only taught one course, Leadership Skills in Spring 2019, and the responses and questions I’ve received from students are how to operationalize what they are learning in the program. They want to understand what has been tried, tested and proven. While DEI work takes time, energy and a willingness for systems and cultural change to take hold in the workplace, we have to create a workforce where everyone understands that only through a collective effort will we see transformation take place.
Renee: For those who can't take the course now, what can they do to learn more about these important topics?
There is an abundance of information coming from The Building Movement Project research and reports, Fund the People toolkits, and LeaderSpring Center programs and events. Centering Racial Equity: A Vital Board Summit Nov 6th from 9am – 4:30pm is part of LeaderSpring’s Fall Equity Series. This all-day opportunity for board members and CEOs is designed to inform, engage, and provide a pathway for Boards of Directors to become more racially equitable and inclusive.
Register for Creating a Culture of Change: Fostering DEI in the Workplace here.