The social sector should be a place where diverse populations can gain meaningful employment, feel valued in and contribute to inclusive workplace cultures, have opportunities for advancement to leadership roles, and create programs and practices that reflect and honor communities served. The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ values access, opportunity, and prosperity for all people and supports the organizations in its strategic action network in developing the competencies, practices, and policies to achieve their organizational equity goals for related to their workplace culture, human resources, and leadership and governance. 

This is what it will take to embed effective equity, diversity, and inclusion strategies and activities all levels:

Organizational Culture

  • Addressing mental models and supporting behavior change through positive interactions and reinforcement 
  • Prioritizing equity, diversity, and inclusion in staff time, budget, and planning
  • Mentoring and leadership development that is intentional, interracial, intergenerational
  • Engaging leadership boards in training and setting vision

Hiring Practices

  • Addressing gaps in executive recruitment and the use of informal networks in hiring for leadership positions
  • Reviewing protocol and policies for implicit bias
  • Loosening employment criteria that is unnecessarily restrictive
  • Valuing lived experience in the hiring process

Sector-Level Considerations

  • Addressing power dynamics to remove win/lose reaction (“zero-sum bias”)
  • Creating positive peer pressure within and between organizations
  • Generating interest in a social sector career path starting at high school or earlier
  • Creating more pathways to employment for people returning from incarceration

Equity in Action: Case Examples and Resources

Two paths for accelerating equity, diversity, and inclusion in the social sector are organizational journeys—strengthening the relationships organizations have with their communities and other stakeholders—and developing effective leadership pipelines.

Organizational Journeys

Staff, board members, volunteers, and community members learn best through authentic relationships with peers, experts, and other stakeholders within and across systems and sectors. 

Here are some ways to start or expand your organization’s equity journey:

Develop and apply a community cultural lens by creating an engagement plan. Identify factors that impact the creation of practices and actions that will create a more equitable organization. Examine organization practices in the hiring and/or advancement of people from the community into your organization.

Watch these videos for an inside look at four organizations in the Alliance network and their equity work: 

Learn how ANDRUS has transformed its trauma-informed and trauma-responsive model and developed a set of interactive tools that help children, families, and organizations cope with emotional, relational, psychological, and physical trauma. Hear how UCAN's strategic commitment to its community extends to building the local business economy. With their campus relocation project, they became intentional in supplier diversity and have become the sixth largest employer in North Lawndale. Learn about the internationally known Glasswing: Racial Healing training that focuses on how to effectively start conversations related to race and developing viable pathways in addressing racism. Hear how this their culture creates an authentic inclusion-focused environment for both staff and the communities it serves.

Leadership Pipelines

For equity, diversity, and inclusion to be effective and sustainable in the social sector, there must be a robust talent pipeline of diverse and equitable talent representative of the communities being served; this type of genuine leadership embraces racial and ethnic diversity.

More Information

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