So what is it about the mention of “diversity” that sends so many people in our field heading for the exit? Lots just don’t want to hear any more about it. Some feel that they’ve paid their dues, having already sat through too many diversity-focused conversations, meetings, and task forces leading to not much change. Others? Well, let’s be honest, others simply don’t care or see it as relevant to their own work.
But here’s the problem: the issues are still very much alive. The promised land remains quite a distance off. As Ambassador James Joseph just eloquently reminded us at today’s breakfast plenary, the field’s challenges around diversity related to race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and ability are not, despite many well-intended efforts, over. And it’s time for the field to lead.
And there’s a promising way to make some real progress: the D5 initiative, a five-year undertaking to bring about field-wide changes in how we advance equity and inclusion . D5 is extraordinary in part because, for the first time, it brings together key infrastructure institutions and networks, including Regional Associations of grantmakers, the Council on Foundations, the Foundation Center, population-focused philanthropic funds, and the Joint Affinity Groups. This coalition alone gives D5 unusual depth and reach. (Full disclosure: Horizons Foundation has been privileged to be part of the D5 leadership team.)
At the conference, D5 announced its superb new director, Kelly Brown, and released its “State of the Work” report, an overview of how well the field is doing in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The report does two things. First, it sums up the “state of the work” as of 2011 with clear, simple data on key markers like portion of CEOs and trustees from diverse backgrounds or the funds granted to historically marginalized populations. Second, it sets out the goals and strategies that D5 has set to make progress – tangible, measurable, field-wide progress – over the next five years.
There was also a great signal of the momentum D5 is gathering when, very early this morning, D5 hosted a breakfast meeting for supporters and those interested in the work as it moves ahead. Many of the leading CEOs, trustees, and other leaders in the field were there. Foundation supporters like The California Endowment, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Prudential Foundation talked about why they’ve committee substantial funding toward the $15 million initiative (about half of which has been raised already).
There are several ways to get involved with D5. You can find the “State of the Work” report and more about D5 at www.d5coalition.org. And you’ll be hearing much more about it in the coming months and years.
Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.