An issue that has been pre-occupying those in the non-profit sector in Canada are the now substantiated and discouraging allegations of racism and racist incidents, that have occurred amongst the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), GTA. There has been incredible work done by many colleagues, especialy black colleagues, who have been the subject of these experiences, and who have done a huge service to the community here in Canada, by taking leadership on these issues. Mide Akerewusi is someone who comes to mind in this respect, and who has agreed to take on the role of the chair of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Toronto Chapter. Under Mide’s leadership, there have already been a number of steps made towards apologies, downgrading the chapter status, and beginning to re-engage with the sector with a very strong anti-racist lens.
Relatedly, a report recently came out from Imagine Canada, that is based on a survey that involved 1,500 non-profit leaders across Canada, that dug deep into organizational commitments to equity, diversity and inclusion, and the extent to which changes have been made in the sector. A key finding of the report is that the degree of deep commitment and transformation taking place in organizations is much greater in organizations that are led by people of color or by other people who face some kind of marginalization or under-representation, as compared to white-led organizations, who are often the slowest to move on these issues and have made the least progress in terms of deep changes.
The report highlights that while non-profit leaders generally support equity, diversity, and inclusion, far fewer pursue it with deep intentionality, and that the success of leadership and management structures, such as equity working groups, are often dependent on where these groups are positioned and who they’re accountable to. Those that involve senior leadership and senior managers, that have really made a commitment at the organizational level, are the ones who’ve seen the most transformation.
Another important issue that is highlighted in the report is that funders themselves have a key role to play in advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion, by specifically supporting and funding black, indigenous and other racialized led organizations, as well as other organizations committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Reflecting on her years working in the federal service, Jesse reflects on the kind of transformation seen in the sector when the government of Canada announced the Feminist International Assistance Policy, which was a really transformational moment for the international cooperation sector, in terms of taking issues of gender equality and underrepresentation seriously.
This highlights a really important lesson for this moment in Canada, vis-a-vis reconciliation, anti-racism, and anti-black racism particularly. There is a real opportunity for the government to take more leadership and action in ensuring that organizations that work with them meet certain standards. That if the government is going to be funding organizations, these organizations reflect key equity and diversity standards, and that funding is targeted to building the capacity of the sector in those areas.
As a firm, JN Clarke Consulting has been doing a lot of reflection on DEI, and are very committed to following a strong framework for our own work in this area, cross cutting these considerations strongly in our ‘Building Equity” training series for example, in the context of fundraising.
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