Why Diversity in the Workplace isn’t Enough

4b97f6f5-a2d4-47c7-be36-8f6909e0853e-1Impact was excited to have Howard University graduate Krsnavati Fair as our summer intern this year. Following her time working with City Year, she wanted to learn more about the nonprofit world. Here’s her blog on one of the most important topics in our industry today. Thanks, Krsnavati—for a truly two-way learning experience this year!

As an intern, entering into a new industry such as nonprofit fundraising was nerve-racking. The only experience I had working in the nonprofit sector was in education. My new role would be collaborating and working with nonprofits and like organizations for a consulting agency. So when I was offered the position at Impact Communications, it seemed like an amazing opportunity I couldn’t pass up. But something that was obvious to me since day one was that I was the only person of color. We know we can’t control the race we were born into nor the family we come from, but what’s astounding is the lack of awareness and unconscious bias we have towards people of diverse communities and backgrounds other than our own.

To get to Impact Communications I would have to commute roughly 1-1/2 hours from my house to work 6-7 hours. Coming from someone who used to work 11-13 hour days, that wasn’t hard. The hardest part of my internship was pretending to be okay with the fact people who look like me are being murdered senselessly…

In the beginning of July, I was flooded with images of slain Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Videos surfaced displaying blatant disregard for innocent lives—something not new to me. Black Lives Matter became another trending topic on Twitter yet again. I was dreading going back to work. I was mortified by the recent events, but I knew I had responsibilities.

When I came back to work that day, I was delightfully surprised at the genuine interest some of my coworkers had to check in with me because of the recent events. I appreciated their concern because to be quite frank there will never be a “right” time to address these “issues”. This is something we can’t sweep under the rug when it’s at the forefront of societal problems.

Yes, more and more nonprofits are “diverse” which is a great step in the right direction. But, it’s not enough to simply hire a person from an underrepresented community. Organizations committed to having a diverse workforce should invest in cultural competency training. And this type of training should also be part of new employee orientation. Ultimately, the goal is for people to become socially aware of each other’s differences, while embracing their own uniqueness. I believe that also involves having difficult conversations about societal problems in order to evoke strong camaraderie.

  • Posted by Krsnavati Fair
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One Response to Why Diversity in the Workplace isn’t Enough

  1. Laurie says:

    I have been in work places where there was a diverse workforce however, there was not a strong camaraderie and there was tensions. They were very uncomfortable places to be as management didn’t help with team building or group activities that would help bring everyone together. Thanks for sharing!

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