I love my job as an executive coach. Of course, I add value and like to think of myself as helping to create successful nonprofits. I feel so lucky to be able to do this for a living.
And I often get more out of it than I give.
My clients are excellent leaders, and they are smart, strategic, innovative and creative. They share their new ideas with me, and the nice thing is that I can share those ideas with you.
I got a really good one today.
Are you ready to hear about the most creative decision my clients have made to bring racial diversity to life in their organization?
It’s really good.
And it has nothing to do with the racial or ethnic diversity of your board and staff (the most common conversation we all have).
It’s about $$…
IT’S ALL ABOUT MONEY AND POWER
That’s the conclusion reached by Managing Director Brian K. Bond. He took an in-depth look at how to bring racial diversity to life in a real and powerful way in his organization. Brian leads PFLAG National, the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and the people who love them.
Brian’s idea predated 2020 when American society faced a racial toll with the murder of George Floyd. Brian’s career spans decades (he won’t like that phrase), and this isn’t his first ED rodeo. That said, much of his career has been spent in politics, most recently as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, known to many as the gateway to the White House, at through which everyone can participate and inform the work of the President. Through this role, he has worked with, listened to and learned from a diverse population of people across the country, and his political journey has instilled in him a real understanding of the power of local communities. This made him a natural to lead an organization with hundreds of thousands of members in communities across America.
Here is the idea that Brian brought to life. But first, a bit of history:
So there was this meeting of the finance committee on the investment of cash reserves. At this meeting, Brian’s diversity and community DNA were front and center. “I would like to explore our reservation’s investment in minority depository institutions – these institutions bridge the gap with the unbanked, they support home ownership in minority communities. These institutions need money to support their communities.
Brian’s idea was prescient. It turned out that it was these very minority depository institutions that went overboard and worked three times in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, outpacing other banks in advocating for PPP loans to find their way into their communities.
The finance committee has begun to look at their work from a different angle (more broadly than just high yield opportunities). They got it. And approved the idea. They agreed to invest $1 million of their $4 million reserve in minority depository institutions. With $250,000 as a threshold (a floor amount to make sure the money would be assured), they agreed to focus on four communities: Black and African American, Native, Hispanic and Asian, and Pacific Islander.
SELECTION OF BANKS
National PFLAG leadership did the research (including sites like the FDIC page on Minority Depository Institutions) while reaching out to community leaders to get started – to find out who was there. Next are screening conversations with a long list of prospects for each community, conducted by both staff and the board! It was part of a DEI learning experience for everyone. Here are some issues they fixed:
- Talk about your commitment to your community.
- What are you doing to support the unbanked?
- Show us your EEO statement so we know your non-discrimination clauses include LGBTQ+ people.
- Tell us your position on LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion.
THE REACTION OF THE BANKS
So you get a cold call from an LGBTQ+ organization looking to invest $250,000 in your institution. The reactions received by PFLAG National were mixed (pun intended).
Some said no thank you. Brian saw many of these people as not wanting to go through a layer of bureaucracy with their boards. Other institutions were excited to share how they support their community and how they celebrate LGBTQ+ people in their communities. A credit union revised their EEO statement and when Brian saw it, his reaction? “It could have been better than ours!
HOW’S IT GOING?
The PFLAG National Board of Directors just approved adding an additional $500,000 to these MDIs. I think that tells you what you need to know.
BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE
Creative ideas spin the wheels, and in the DEI space, once you look at your work through a DEI lens, you begin to work differently. PFLAG National is also looking at DEI more broadly and with equal creativity — interviewing minority-owned CPA firms and providers. PFLAG National is igniting the public conversation at these intersections, recently examining the intersection of LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities (bring your commitment to life, and the next thing you know you have an LGBTQ+ writer living with a disability). PFLAG National has sent a loud and clear message that everyone belongs.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Nothing would please me more than to share this message with your staff or your Board of Directors. When you share it, add these additional chat prompts:
- What were your takeaways?
- Would our organization move dollars from high yield banks to invest in these historically marginalized communities? What would have to be true for the answer to this question to be yes?
- Analyze your work (and your stakeholders) with the same DEI goal enabled. How can your organization break out of staffing and board metrics and get creative? What would it take?
Our own DEI consultant gave advice early on that helped us as we worked together – go slow to go fast. So while I encourage you to start these conversations, it may not be one of the quick wins initiatives you undertake. Work must be intentional to be sustainable.
Don’t let that intimidate you. It’s a journey. Be intentional. And in the spirit of this blog post, explore every nook and cranny of the work you do and how you do it — and know that creativity can pay dividends (in this case, pun intended).
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