Dear Colleagues and Champions for Social Impact:
It is with deep concern about the state of race relations in our nation that I write this letter. On the heels of what has already been a trying time in the world, this past week, our nation witnessed a horrific set of events. From the experience in New York City of an African American male, Christian Cooper to the tragedy in Minneapolis of George Floyd’s senseless and undeserved death, tensions are on the rise around the country. Some cities experienced protests, looting, and violence. To say many are experiencing unrest is an immeasurable understatement.
Many of your employees may be logging on virtually or returning to work after consuming painful video footage, spending hours watching responses to the acts unfold, and participating in protests for racial and social justice, all while seeking ways to cope with ongoing offenses to the human and civil rights of African Americans. It does not help that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted persons of color at disproportionately high rates. We know that employees do not simply turn off their emotions and personal lives just because the workweek begins. Silencing one’s emotions is especially challenging now because we are still finding our way to a post-pandemic normal.
Nonprofit HR deeply values and prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). We are attuned to the strength and value that DEI brings to every organization. We are in-tune with the richness of experience, perspective, and collaboration that a diverse and equitable workforce brings. Diverse, equitable, and inclusive practices enrich the lives of organizations and transform the way we serve and engage communities. And we are aware that when left unaddressed or under-addressed, inequitable treatment of peoples has a toxic, destructive effect on an organization’s culture.
If there is one glimmer of hope in these ongoing challenges, it is that we have control over our individual actions. We have the power to become more aware and thoughtful about the narratives we tell and fuel. Fortunately, many organizations in the social sector are well-positioned to address and help eradicate the societal ills we currently face. We all need to call out and then heal internally from the re-opening of centuries-old wounds stemming from power systems that fail to uphold access and justice for all. For Nonprofit HR, we remain committed to upholding the principles of human dignity for all persons, regardless of racial and ethnic identity, age, faith, gender, sexual identity and orientation, differing abilities, intersectionality, and socioeconomic status.
There are likely employees among your staff who may be both physically and emotionally distanced this week. These employees may need additional support and new spaces for healthy release dialogue. Now is the perfect time to consider new ways you can initiate, encourage, and participate in healthy communication and problem-solving.
Together, we can all rise to a higher level of empathy, understanding, and compassion. Together, we can also build a more inclusive sector where equality and equity are no longer aspirations but reality.
Lisa Brown Alexander, SPHR
Founder & CEO