diverse group of people having a discussion

Equity in Action: Best Practices for DEI at Your Nonprofit

On July 27, 2021, TechSoup hosted the live webinar Equity in Action: A Chat with EIDC Director LaCheka Phillips. I had the opportunity to interview LaCheka, and we discussed how nonprofit leaders can collaborate with project managers, engage the nonprofit community, and maintain employee buy-in to better create an equitable, inclusive, and diverse culture.

drawing of a woman sitting in a chair on a cloud having an online meeting with a diverse group of people

But first, why EIDC and not the more common acronym, DEI? The program's name is an intentional focus on the order in which TechSoup approaches change: The program aims to foster a culture of equity and inclusion in order to ensure meaningful diversity.

Over the last year, the program focused on the following initiatives:

  • Promoting diversity in the tech industry through HBCU outreach and partnerships
  • Building an inclusive hiring strategy
  • Conducting staff training and facilitating discussions on DEI subjects
  • Bridging access to TechSoup resources for Black-led nonprofits within the COVID Recovery Fund and the digital resiliency program
  • Leading conference workshops and webinars that encourage DEI strategies for other nonprofits

This year, the program will continue working with DEI leaders and programs, HBCUs, and the TechSoup Global Network partners to deepen TechSoup's commitment to strive for a more equitable planet.

We invite you to watch the webinar recording below and review our key takeaways and recommendations. We hope this conversation illuminates the value of developing a DEI program within your organization.

Collaboration Is Key for Maintaining DEI Buy-in

"It's impossible to do this work siloed."

Tackling systemic inequities rooted in white supremacist culture is challenging to do at any organization. But this task is at the forefront of building DEI goals that benefit the multivariate identities within an organization. Publicizing commitment is the first step. Maintaining buy-in includes the following factors:

  • Gaining support from senior leadership
  • Ensuring that initiatives align with organizational mission and values
  • Backing employee resource groups and affinity groups
  • Collaborating with project managers and department heads across the organization

DEI Initiatives Are Work, and Work Costs Money

According to the report 2021 Nonprofit Diversity Practices (PDF) by Nonprofit HR, only 19 percent of nonprofits with a DEI strategy have a formal DEI budget. What can funding do to enhance your organization's DEI initiatives?

  • Enable organizationwide training and professional development opportunities
  • Prioritize sourcing diverse candidates and expanding your reach
  • Partner with Black, indigenous, POC, LGBTQ+, neurodiversity, and disability-focused organizations for mission-driven community impact
  • Pay DEI practitioners for consulting and training, including DEI assessments

If You're Leading the DEI Initiatives at Your Nonprofit, You Deserve a Break Too

Doing work that requires the constant consumption and education of trauma, harassment, racism, prejudice, and ableism can be very triggering and exhausting. Some DEI practitioners have experienced compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress. Know you aren't alone. Here is how LaCheka recommends that others engaged in this work protect their mental health:

  • Give yourself permission to step away from your workspace.
  • Build community with other DEI professionals.
  • If you have a pet, cuddle with it!

The work of building and maintaining a robust and fruitful DEI strategy is ongoing. With alignment, collaboration, and advocacy, we can commit to implementing systemic change that empowers the communities we serve.

Resources to Support DEI Work

Here are a few resources that LaCheka shared during the event to support DEI work at nonprofit organizations:

Additional Resources

Jasmine Malone is the Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Culture (EIDC) intern at TechSoup and a senior at the Xavier University of Louisiana majoring in Spanish and minoring in Political Science. As the EIDC intern, Jasmine aids program initiatives that enhance the impact of TechSoup's mission and values.

Top photo: Shutterstock