At United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, establishing a culture rich in diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to our mission. From how we invest in our communities to how we hire and promote members of our excellent team–this work is fundamental to everything we do.
In June 2020, we made a public commitment to take clear and quantifiable action towards becoming an anti-racist organization. After listening and speaking with board members, community leaders, and partner organizations, we engaged in a nationwide search and began working with Inclusent, a nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion firm. Through our partnership with Inclusent, we assessed every aspect of our organizational commitments including our governance, procurement, staffing, and culture to best serve our mission.
Additionally, we’ve taken steps to actively listen to our community and examine our grant-making model to ensure equitable practices. We’re excited to provide an update on our progress to date.
Community Listening & Outreach
We believe strongly that our ability to address poverty effectively relies on deep attunement to and trust in the communities we serve. As we approached our second century of service, we instituted a deliberate shift to engage residents in the design, implementation, and evaluation of our work. From community listening tours to advisory committees to neighbor feedback surveys, the people we serve are at the table with us more than ever before.
For example, to help inform the priorities of The Promise: The Philadelphia Poverty Action Plan, we conducted research to better understand what was and wasn't changing about poverty during the pandemic. With our support, nine Generocity journalists worked with community leaders to hear firsthand from neighbors experiencing hardships and opportunities. From Point Breeze to Mantua, Fairhill to Kensington, and everywhere in between, Generocity spoke with hundreds of people living in, learning from, and working against poverty in the age of COVID-19. The report continues to inform our efforts in Philadelphia County and beyond.
In grantmaking, we set out to understand how we are allocating funding using a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. While funded partners have provided client demographic data for many years, we recently began collecting board, staff, and leadership demographic data in our FY19 grant reports. Alongside impact, geographic, and organizational data, this additional information gives us a more holistic view of our resource allocation and strengthens our decision-making capabilities. Findings from this portfolio review process were also shared with funded partners to strengthen knowledge and shared learning.
We are educating and facilitating conversations with our team to better understand cultural and race-related issues through anti-racism, anti-bias and inclusive leadership workshops. To foster and embrace inclusion, we are championing the celebration of diverse national holidays, including Pride Month and Juneteenth, and providing opportunities for engagement and education through town hall meetings and guest speakers.
Organizational Culture & Engagement
To better understand our team members’ experiences and views on equity and inclusion, we are forming an internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. This step will enable us to promote a safe and inclusive workplace based on shared values, mutual respect, and dignity.
Recruiting & Retention
We completed a comprehensive pay-scale study across our entire organization to provide transparency and equity on roles. We have also strengthened our hiring requirements to ensure a diverse slate of candidates are interviewed and considered for all professional job openings.
In the coming months, we will continue to provide updates as we develop clear and quantifiable benchmarks and a measurable roadmap for enhancements to organizational culture, governance, grantmaking, procurement, and operations.
President & CEO