“We have no Indigenous and People of Color on staff"



Date of Publication
November, 2018

In our industry as Managers, Supervisors and Executive Directors there are a plethora of gifting's that are bestowed to us in how we serve, advocate and add value to our organizations and or coalitions. In order to serve with due diligence we have to be willing to strive towards working as experts on a mission to eliminate any and all forms of oppression that serves to corrode and undermine the work of the anti-sexual violence movement.

The main form of oppression tends to rear its ugliness in the form of exclusion and a lack of collectively championing all marginalized communities. Communities who are more often than not experience serious stigmas, are dismissed, not believed or brought to the forefront of the discussion and work of eliminating sexual violence.

In order for us as decision makers, supervisors and executive directors to answer the call of serving our coalitions and organizations with great intentionality, we have to take a closer look at operating workplaces through an anti-oppressive lens. In doing so, we must be intentional about our hiring processes. Our hiring processes serve as a gateway to include and encourage new initiatives, concepts and expansive ideas of how to better serve Indigenous and or Communities of Color.

In early 2015, April Reign, an activist, speaker and social media influencer created the hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite in a quest to bright to light the blatant lack of diverse representation from marginalized communities in the Hollywood scene. It called attention to the actors and actresses who have been passed over during the Oscars, Emmys and even other cinematic award ceremonies. Her initiative brought about a larger discussion and to-date remains an ongoing discussion in how more and more directors, actors, actresses and crew men and women being championed on and off screen for their valuable contributions.

Yet the question remains, what do you do when your working environment evidently lacks Indigenous people and or People of Color? How do you do go about creating a hiring process that is inviting, and inclusive?

Begin with the Basics

It is essential to start with what you have, this simply means taking an inventory of what can be done differently, while being sensitive to areas in your organization that need to be more inclusive on a micro and macro scale. For example:

  • When hiring a bilingual candidate, do you prioritize hiring an indigenous person or Person of Color from the culture representing that specific language? (As representation matters and being culturally sensitive in your approach will in turn serve your organization well).
  • Prioritize candidates with cultural and language skill sets in all agency positions, not merely an individual tasked with a particular community outreach. Utilize a “Preferred Qualifications” to list items like:
    • Ability to speak, read, and write in Mandarin.
    • Volunteer or paid experience within underserved communities or culturally specific programs.
  • In job announcements and advertisements include statements like,
    • “People of Color are strongly encouraged to apply.”
    • “Applicants from historically marginalized communities are strongly encouraged.”
  • Also be mindful of setting wage and salary compensations that champion equal pay. According to the US Census Bureau, on average black women only make 61 cents to every dollar made by a white man.

The Intentionality of Equity + Inclusivity

The idea of diversity serves to embody inclusivity, this is especially important in light of nonprofits and foundations. As we thrive on a mission statements that seek to ultimately create a higher calling for all things social justice related.

As recently as 2015, Huffington post released a report indicating that only 8% of all non-profit executive leadership were diverse in nature. Furthermore, foundations are made up of 92% of white executive directors. As alarming as these findings are, addressing these disparities will require a rigorous examination on how we as organizations create, manage and ultimately structure our hiring processes.

Often times the most important thing that a hiring manager and or the executive leadership team can do is to be an accomplice to your mission statement, and this may come in the form of administering surveys, carefully looking at the inclusive language used in your organization and events, and initiatives being spearheaded by your planning committees. (Example: Is there a mindfulness of being conscious of honoring the indigenous land that you are doing your activity on? Is there an active model in place to be aware of the immigrant communities that you serve?) These questions are crucial evolving practices that serve your mission. This may also include:

  • Getting professional help or peer support from other organizations/coalitions who have been successful with their inclusion efforts.
  • Seeking to hire indigenous and people of color in your leadership positions. (not just entry level positions) That goes a long way in how decisions are ultimately made in your organization and or coalition.
  • Look for ways where staff members can receive training to understand their biases and what microaggressions look like.
  • Start by making a needs assessment list as it pertains to your organization’s hiring process. This will allow your organization to strengthen their ability to champion diversity and inclusivity.
  • Consider an Anti-Oppression Activity Report as an accountability tool. This kind of report takes a critical look at our work to underline where we are failing our communities.
  • Create a task-force checklist and research effective organizations that champion diversity
  • Invest in recruiting from local colleges where students can initially intern within your organization.

Diversity is winning

Diversity deficits are not always discussions that are broadcasted by organizations, yet the lack of representation from indigenous communities and communities of color in positions of leadership and boardrooms affects how we derive our mandates and get our work done with excellence in the communities we serve.

When we look to add we are sending a strong message that fuels a stronger organizational structures that are conscious about messaging, social justice and human rights issues that are vital in how we intent to progressively grow towards improving our services and resources that meet the needs of our goals, objectives and mission mandates.

Additionally, being effective change makers and deliberate allies, accomplices and agitators of good will require us to be willing to look at all of our vantage points, examine our calls to action by displaying the courage to step outside of what the norm has been for sometime. Because when we do, we ensure that the pulse of leadership and staffing is striving to improve, grow and expand to a place that is representative of where we are heading towards as a nation.

Recent statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management indicate that minority communities account for at least 6 of the 8 largest cities in the United States, with the buying power of over $750 billion and Women of Color often being the sole household earners. Evidently the tide of our household demographics is changing in our nation, and statistical findings from the US census bureau indicate that in 2045 white communities will make up only 49.7% of the population. While Hispanic populations will make up 24.6%, 13.1 percent for black communities, 7.9 percent for Asian communities, and 3.8 percent for multiracial communities. This suggests that we as a nation are expanding our languages, cultures, food and how we live as we strive towards a non-binary way of living. This is a great plus for us, as we are essentially being enriched by the ideas, values, initiatives and innovations of communities from different walks of life. Rather than fear how this may look like in the years to come, this is an opportunity being presented to all hiring managers, boardrooms and coalitions to embrace a future where we are even more welcoming and excited to expand our services, campaigns, initiatives, missions and mandates to our local communities and beyond.

Notes and References

  1. Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060, Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman. US census bureau
  2. Diversity And Inclusion: Essential To All Non-Profits, Anika Rahman. Huffington Post
  3. Black Women and the Pay Gap, The American Association of University Women (AAUW)