Join us in Integrating Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility (DEIA) Learning into Your Nonprofit

Lianna Olds
June 22, 2022

We know that keeping equity front and centered in our organization’s work is critical to meeting our mission. Here is one way the Nonprofit Association of Washington (NAWA) team is prioritizing equity learning. We’re sharing one of our strategies along with specific “lesson plans” developed by various team members that you can try in your organization.

The general approach: set aside 30-45 minutes of staff meeting time once a month for DEIA learning. Rotate responsibility for planning a discussion topic and questions among staff members. The lead staff for the month choose a DEIA-related resource they find useful and share it with all staff at least a week before the discussion date. This might be a short article, a podcast, or a video. A few reflection questions are also shared in advance.

During the allotted staff meeting time, the lead staff facilitate 30 minutes of discussion about the topic, making space for all team members to participate. Note: Our staff team is 13, and 30 minutes is barely enough time to allow each person to share briefly. Adjust the timing based on your staff size and/or consider breakout groups if needed. You may also wish to follow up at a later date to give individuals a chance to share additional reflections.

Here are the topics we’ve explored so far in 2022:

Authenticity at Work (organized by Lianna Olds)

Watch The myth of bringing your whole, authentic self to work, TED Talk by Jodi-Ann Burey

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do we mean when we ask for “authenticity “at work? What barriers have you experienced to “authenticity”?
  2. Are there words other than “authentic” that reflect the values we want to see in our organization?
  3. How do our biases inform our interpretation of “authentic?”

Generational Differences (organized by Laura Pierce)

Read this article and check out these short videos:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you experienced friction with other leaders of different generations related to how they view DEI issues?
  2. Is there an observation or recommendation in the article or in the videos that felt particularly true or resonant for you? Why?
  3. What is your learning edge related to these issues?

Rest as resistance to White Supremacy and capitalism (organized by LeeAnne Beres)

Discussion Questions:

  1. How do White Supremacy culture and capitalism try to control who has the “right” to rest?
  2. What does rest look like to you beyond literally sleeping or taking a nap? What feelings does the idea or the practice of rest bring up in you?
  3. A question from the Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey: “Have you looked in the mirror to see how internalized capitalism and grind culture shows up in how you engage with yourself and others? Since deprogramming is a lifelong unraveling, where are you in the process? Have you examined how you consciously and unconsciously behave and react?”
  4. How can we counter toxic productivity and prioritize rest at NAWA? What are some ideas for more liberatory practices around time and energy management at the organizational level?

Implicit Bias (organized by the NAWA Equity Committee)

We also join with our board for board/staff equity discussions. Most recently, we read Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. Below is the guide for a 90-minute group discussion.

Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People (Banaji & Greenwald)

Discussion Questions: (from MAC Dewitt Wallace Library)

  1. Before reading this book, how familiar were you with implicit association/unconscious bias? How did that affect how you approached the book? How have any of your ideas on the topic changed or evolved?
  2. What most surprised you as you read this book?
  3. Can you remember a time that you realized something you were quite certain about was wrong? How does that experience inform you today?
  4. The authors define a category as “a collection of things having enough in common so that it is convenient to treat them as kin,” and they use social categories like race, ethnicity, and gender in a lot of examples. What other categories do we use to create shortcuts? How does that affect behavior and decisions?
  5. The “Us and Them” chapter talks about in-groups and out-groups. When have you been part of one or the other? What did that look or feel like?

Implicit Association Test

Take the Race, Disability, Age, and Sexuality Implicit Association Tests.

Discussion Questions (from Ohio State University):

  1. What feelings or reactions did you have upon learning your IAT results?
  2. Reflect on your life experiences that may have influences your results. Consider your childhood and family upbringing; the neighborhoods in which you’ve lived; elements of your career path; media messages; your family and peer networks; etc. How might these experiences have shaped your biases, with or without your conscious awareness?
  3. How might knowing your IAT results affect your future actions and decisions, both in your role at your workplace and in other aspects of life?

Application to Nonprofit Association of Washington

  1. What are some ways that blindspots and implicit associations impact us in our work at NAWA?
  2. How can we help each other avoid blindspots?
  3. How do we use this knowledge to effect change in the nonprofit sector in Washington State?

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