by Pamela Ross
vice president of opportunity, equity and inclusion
Today’s climate requires bold and courageous leaders. Leaders that not only care and have compassion but are also willing to lose some things in the fight of justice for all.
We can no longer afford to stand on the sidelines becoming more intellectual about the issues or be proud because we are the greatest cheerleaders. We all have to fight to ensure everyone has an opportunity to achieve their greatest dreams.
CICF has put a stake in the ground to say we can do better. We do not want to be known as a “good” organization doing “good” work—we want and need to become game-changers.
CICF often gets asked how we are doing this work, but there is no secret formula to becoming a game-changer. You have to put in the work to learn, understand and discover, both as an individual and as an organization.
Our goal is to be anti-racist multicultural organization by changing our culture, policies and practices. We are building a new way of operationalizing our impact in this community. CICF started with a self-assessment of who we are, what we want to see changed and where we had the power to make change. We are guided by the following principles:
- Don’t KEEP making the same mistakes—Be willing to recalibrate, learn and slow down.
- Be INTENTIONAL—Great intentions do not always lead to fair results; change your behavior.
- Be ACCOUNTABLE—When we make mistakes, we must own them and be transparent.
- Listen BEFORE acting—Power does not mean you know everything; share the power.
- Build AUTHENTIC relationships—Relationships are not transactions. There is a difference between a “meeting” and taking the time to build trust through ongoing interactions and engagement.
- Take action WITH residents—Let go of the mindset of “doing for” and creating the negative consequences of “doing to.”
- Racism STILL exists—We must work to dismantle the systems that continue to perpetuate it and speak truth to power.
These guidelines are the result of CICF’s work to intentionally and systemically change where we have the power to make a difference.
…we need partners and people who are not only willing to be bold and courageous but also willing to speak the truth.
We believe this can truly be an Inclusive City for all, but we need partners and people who are not only willing to be bold and courageous but also willing to speak the truth. It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It may be easier to support another organization’s efforts to address systemic racism, but to really be a game-changer, you must look inward first.
Here are a few considerations if you are serious about becoming an anti-racist organization:
- If you are an all white institution, but say you believe in equity and inclusion, that needs to change.
- If you are all white led institution (you have no leaders of color), but say you believe in equity and inclusion, that needs to change.
- If you are an institution that predominately serves people of color, but your staff and board does not represent the ratio of the people you serve, that needs to change.
- If you are one of many institutions of power in this city that has the ability to make a real change for all but have no pathway or authentic way to understanding and listening to resident voice, that needs to change.
- If you believe people are unfairly held back due to racist systems that still exist, be an advocate.
- If you don’t believe people are still unfairly held back due to racist systems, get informed.
- If you are that hiring manager who says, “we couldn’t find anyone of color,” ask yourself why and create those relationships.
- Overall, BE PRESENT in this journey.
Are there risks and unknown factors involved in this journey? Absolutely. Does CICF still have work to do? Always. But we also believe we can make a difference. We are hopeful and excited about the opportunities ahead. We’re being open, transparent and willing to share our journey. However, this is not only about what CICF is doing, it’s about you, too. The real question is “What are you doing to make this an equitable community for all?”
Let us all truly be the change we wish to see in our community. My favorite quote has become one from the great Nelson Mandela…“Fools multiply when wise men are silent.”
Let’s rise up wise men and women. NO MORE SILENCE.