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Change in Action: DEI Initiatives At DRG and Beyond

By now you know that the DRG Group is deeply committed to serving as change-agents in our industry. And right now, fighting for change at our organizations and in our communities is crucial for our donors, beneficiaries, employees, colleagues, and friends. That's why we're continuing to call upon each of you to make a commitment to social justice. And we don't just talk to the talk. In addition to the commitments mentioned in this post, the DRG Group is doing a few more things that we're really proud of:

  1. We will no longer accept job postings that do not list salary expectations. We stand in solidarity with other organizations like AFP who have already implemented this policy. It helps us from perpetuating wage gaps and unrealistic expectations of employers and candidates.

  2. We continue to host and will continue to host DEI discussions monthly with fundraisers in our field. These discussions are valuable and need to continue as we continue our change efforts.

  3. At our annual business meeting, we will have programming and discussions on DEI and in addition we are planning in our 2021 webinar series to have a section in every webinar dedicated to DEI in our work.

Here's what our team members are doing at their organizations: (And can I say on a personal note, that I am so, so proud of the work they are doing in this space!)

At UC Davis, the theme of their yearly Supervisors Retreat was, “The Power of One in a World of Difference." They invited the new Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and an Associate Chief Diversity Officer to facilitate a conversation for all supervisors. They are driving toward a more inclusive environment at UC Davi, and specifically in their Development operation, and started that work by checking their own personal biases and getting a baseline. DRG Group member, Angie Joens, shares, "It was tough, real, open and it required a lot of vulnerability from each participant. We began a dialogue that we intend to continue all year long."

UC Davis also created a special DEI committee to keep them focused on their commitment and they will be sharing programming, research, and other findings throughout the year.

They have also set a goal to review every position description to make certain any biased language is removed. Huge undertaking? Yes! But one they are very committed to, and once complete, they believe it will provide them with language that is more inclusive. (And so do we!)

DRG Group member, Matthew Helmer, and his team at Colorado State University have taken many steps to demonstrate their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Matthew shares, "It began with an acknowledgment that this is a journey and they have a long way to go, but also a promise that they will travel the road together and be unrelenting in their pursuit of positive change." Some of the actions include:

  • Amidst a hiring hold, they were able to successfully fill two roles critical to the university's DEI efforts through internal searches. One will focus on training their team and the other will strengthen connections and outreach with diverse populations of alumni and donors.

  • As part of ongoing strategic planning efforts, CSU activated a team to review and update policies and practices across the board while also developing a new DEI framework for the way they do business. This helps establish a focus on DEI with tangible outcomes that infuse their commitment throughout every aspect of the organization — becoming more than the work of a committee whose recommendations lay dormant on a shelf.

  • CSU also engaged in a team-wide shared reading and book discussion experience — So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo — and the plan to extend this commitment to learning by partnering with the College of Liberal Arts for film screening and discussion with the director as part of the annual ACT Human Rights Film Festival.

"All of this is made possible by a firm and clear commitment from leadership to learning and doing better as an organization," says Matthew. "Our vice president has been unwavering in her commitment and vocal in support of our team’s growth, setting aside time for important conversations and trainings, and holding our team accountable to moving the organization toward equity and inclusion. This is the action required of each of us to truly make a difference in our organizations."

Aside from the work each of us can do in our professional roles, real and meaningful change can only occur if all of us make the same commitments in our personal lives. Having raw, meaningful conversations with friends who experience day to day life very differently than you do, learning about their fears and their challenges—listening deeply and approaching each conversation with openness and empathy. These are the hard conversations we need to have.

DRG Group member, Sarah Sims, shares, "I have also amassed a reading list that I am slowing working my way through. The books aren't just on race and bias, but fiction and non-fiction by a wide variety of multicultural authors who can expose me to a world that is unfamiliar. Even in storytelling, a reader can be exposed to race, religion, socioeconomic backgrounds, history and culture in a new and profound manner that opens your world."

Change is never easy, and in this case, we simply don't have a choice. Lives depend on our commitment to social justice and the hard work we put in to create positive change— in our homes, in our communities, and in our organizations.

We'd love to hear what you're doing—either personally or professionally—in this space. What steps are you taking to create positive change? How can we help? Please share in the comments below.

If you're feeling inspired but you don't know where to start, join us for free on October 21 for a live discussion and Q&A on diversity, equity, and inclusion in fundraising. You can also check out our collection of books to read, shows to watch, and examples of others doing brilliant work in DEI.


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