Our Equity Story: DEI Definitions and Statement

In fall 2017, CNE staff drafted a “Justice and Equity Commitment” that included a statement on diversity and inclusion. The statement was presented to the board with mixed reviews. Through discussion, it became clear that the organization needed to step back to step forward, starting with creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force of both board and staff, and spending time together defining key terms and our unique equity commitment.

With the founding of the DEI Steering Committee in early 2019, a year-long process began in which the committee members refined definitions of “equity,” “diversity,” and “inclusion” and reworked a statement. With the definitions in place, the Steering Committee then turned to how CNE’s work related to the problems of systemic injustice and its effects on the nonprofit sector and how It should capture that in a public-facing statement.

At the April 2020 board meeting, members of the DEI Steering Committee led the board in a discussion of the definitions and statement. There was animated debate, including whether the language in the commitment would alienate partners or invite them in. Ultimately, the board unanimously approved the new Equity Commitment, which was published on our website in June of 2020.

Related resources:

Examples of Values Statements with Commitments to Diversity and Inclusiveness (article)—breakdown of components commonly included in DEI statements

Social Justice Glossary (article)—an extensive list of social justice terms, clearly defined

Awake to Woke to Work (guide)—a comprehensive outline of DEI across all facets of nonprofit organizations