Community Action's Commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Antiracism: Statement from the Board of Directors
Community Action is an anti-poverty organization with close ties to the Civil Rights movement. We know and recognize that systemic racism is among the most significant and pervasive causes of poverty, among other social and economic inequities. At Community Action, we are charged with addressing both the conditions and causes of poverty. In the summer of 2020, the need to take concrete action in alignment with this charge was evident as the effects of systemic racism were brought to the forefront. We recognized there was internal work we needed to do, beginning with asking very vulnerable and necessary questions:
How are we, as an organization, currently perpetuating racism and oppression? And What concrete actions can we take to become a truly antiracist, anti-oppressive organization?
To find answers, Community Action partnered with k+r strategies—a local collaborative, majority-queer, and Black-owned change navigation firm—to complete an extensive internal audit relating to organizational culture around diversity, equity, and inclusion. The multi-month process included a review of organizational processes, procedures, and practices, as well as collection of input from the Board, leadership team, staff, participants, and other stakeholders.
On Tuesday, October 26th, 2021, the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties’ Board of Directors reviewed and accepted the resulting audit report. Included are several opportunities for growth, summarized as follows:
1. Moving from “diversity” to antiracism and anti-oppression. From the report:
“Designing a truly equitable future requires us to move beyond diversity and inclusion. Prioritization of diversity thinking maintains white supremacy culture by simply inviting non-white people into predominantly white spaces. It does not insist that the culture itself shift to embrace and uplift the needs of BIPOC [Black Indigenous People of Color] or global majority people, or those with other historically marginalized identities.”
2. Creating intentional opportunities for racial equity in leadership. From the report:
“Given the realities of systemic racism and oppression, it is not enough to rely on talented candidates with marginalized identities to seek out Community Action as an employer and/or to rely on individual staff members to make their way through the rungs of the organizational ladder without a system of support. Community Action, instead, must use its resources to ensure that recruitment, hiring, and retention processes are maintained in the spirit of building strong, dynamic, diverse teams as opposed to inadvertently fostering a sense of competition and/or scarcity.”
3. Prioritizing the development of shared language and tools for staff. From the report:
“It is critical to provide staff across the organization with the same foundational tools to approach their antiracist and anti-oppressive goals; as well as to communicate clearly the organization’s expectations with respect to discussing issues of anti-racism and anti-oppression in staff’s day-to-day.”
Community Action’s board of directors embraces these opportunities for growth in becoming an antiracist, anti-oppressive organization. These opportunities, as well as additional findings and recommendations within the audit report, will inform and guide the agency’s future goals and priorities.
As Community Action continues its commitment to learning, growth, and future planning, we look forward to opportunities to continue to invite input and feedback from our community. It is through this process that we will improve upon efforts to address both the conditions and causes of poverty in Lancaster and Saunders Counties, and create a safer, more equitable community for all.