Dear DFW Family,
Dining for Women (DFW) is an organization that is fully committed to gender equality for all, and we carry out our programs understanding this great responsibility. I am happy to announce that DFW is also rising to the challenge of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in a formal and deliberate fashion.
Since our work benefits both members and grant participants, we recognize that we cross many divides, not only in terms of physical locations and sufficiency of resources, but also in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We have a crucial role to play in nurturing the global gender equality movement. By recognizing our responsibility to work toward a more diverse and accountable community of global citizens, we are fully stepping into our leadership obligation.
Solidarity has taken on a new meaning for us in light of a rapidly changing and highly polarized world, but DFW has been a leader in equality from its inception. DFW has always stood in solidarity with our grantee partners around the world through our grant making, which champions locally-led initiatives, not imposed, westernized solutions. As a model of democratized philanthropy, we value every donation equally and do not impose a minimum donation as many giving circles require. We have always been non-partisan and non-religious, opening our doors to any who wish to join us on our mission to achieve gender equality. DFW chapters form because individuals have joined together in a commitment to justice and equality for women and girls around the world. Our current members share these values and, as a community of learners, I hope that our community will embrace a more diverse and inclusive future.
In a natural next step for our organization, we will actively seek to stand in solidarity with DFW members and future members in our organization who face multiple barriers, stereotypes, discrimination, and racism in their personal and professional journeys. In order to do this, we will cultivate a culture that is intentionally inclusive. We want DFW to be a place where everyone has a sense of belonging and can be active in our collective power in the global movement for gender equality.
As DFW’s CEO, I am excited to lead the organization more intentionally in this direction. I have spent the last two years personally learning and growing with our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee which is made up of extraordinary volunteers. This committee has researched our “bright spots” of diversity and compiled a report to demonstrate that, indeed, diversity is and can be successful at DFW. The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee additionally produced the “Case for Diversity” for staff, volunteer leadership, and board to ensure that we all have the same understanding of why diversity is critical to an organization’s success. And finally, the committee is in the process of proposing a board-level “Diversity and Inclusion Policy” which will guide operational practices and policies. While these efforts have been “behind the scenes,” they have had incredible impact on our organization and the future of our efforts.
I now invite all of our members to join us in our DEI efforts as we transform systems, norms, and practices that are holding some of us back. It is time for us to visibly and intentionally stand in solidarity with all people. I know there will be setbacks and the process won’t be perfect, but the lessons we learn will move us forward together.
As we move into the future, our intentional DEI work will include:
- Learning and Growing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Webinars/trainings on DEI for board, staff, national volunteers, and members
- Intentional discussions and reading groups for board, staff, national volunteers, and members
- Inclusive and Equitable Policies and Culture
- Reviewing and developing HR Policy
- Reviewing staff and volunteer recruitment practices
- Auditing internal and external communications practices
- Identifying areas for improvement and addressing these deficiencies
- Updating our language and images to ensure all our communications are inclusive
- Inclusive and Equitable External Partnerships, Collaborations, and Contracts
- Reaching out to other social justice and gender equality organizations for learning /co-creating initiatives
- Establishing practices to ensure that those we work with share our values and respect our practices
- Active Strategy to Increase Diversity among our Membership
- Develop a membership growth strategy that clearly demonstrates our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Learning and Growing is my number one priority, and I invite you to join me in personal reflection and learning to better recognize privilege, power dynamics, and unconscious bias in order to increase equity and build an inclusive culture. Policy and Culture development will be an ongoing initiative in 2020 with a review of all internal policies. External Partnerships, Collaborations, and Contracts speaks to the desire to work with high-quality organizations that share our values, respect our practices, and can also challenge us to be better. And finally, when we are successfully identifying opportunities for improvement, we will develop and implement an Inclusive Membership growth strategy.
Recognizing that the journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion begins where decisions are being made, we will create a working group consisting of staff, board members, and national volunteers from all of our national committees. In all of these initiatives and activities, I commit to keeping the board, staff, and members apprised of progress and challenges.
Please accept this statement as a personal commitment to make these issues a priority for our entire organization. To this end, I have publicly signed onto the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion which outlines four commitments:
First, to bridge the gap around sharing and collaborating across our organization in order to advance this issue within our nonprofit community. This means sharing a workplace that supports an open dialogue on complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion.
Second, to share valuable lessons learned through challenges, in addition to lessons learned through progress.
Third, to implement unconscious bias training throughout our organization, including our board of directors, staff, volunteer leadership, and members.
And finally, to share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors.
I commit to working with experts, our members and community, and other philanthropic groups on this important journey together. Our board, staff, and members desire a more diverse and inclusive version of our organization; this desire will yield incredible depth, growth, and impact for DFW. Please accept my invitation to co-create a more inclusive culture.
Beth Ellen Holimon
President and CEO
Dining for Women