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Journey Toward Racial Equity Report: Year 2

Publication date: 
June, 2023

In 2019, the Forum commissioned the design and implementation of a Racial Equity Organizational Self-Assessment for PSOs (assessment) to support its members along their racial equity journeys by capturing a snapshot of their internal and external racial equity efforts. The information gathered in 2019 established a baseline of PSO members’ efforts to advance racial equity at their respective organizations; identified successes and challenges of designing and implementing racial equity efforts; and helped the Forum better understand members’ progress along their racial equity journeys and how to best support PSOs to advance their efforts. In 2022, the Forum launched a follow-up assessment to continue to benchmark the progress PSOs were making along their racial equity journeys and provide a valuable tool in that work.

The Racial Equity Capacity Assessment and this report were realized through the contribution and efforts of many individuals. The Forum is grateful to be on this journey with all of the individuals who made this effort possible and deeply appreciates their thought partnership and commitment to advancing racial equity.  

Key Learnings From the Assessment

Some of the learnings from the baseline Racial Equity Capacity Assessment for PSOs:

  • PSOs are making notable progress in advancing their internal racial equity efforts. Slightly over half of PSOs (52%) that participated in the follow-up assessment reported they were in the more advanced internal stages of development – establishing and reinforcing stages. This represents a substantial increase from the baseline assessment, where only 22% of PSOs reported they were in the more advanced stages of development.
  • Senior leadership and board members are playing a more active role in their organizations to help advance racial equity efforts. However, changing the organizational learning culture continues to be a challenge.
  • PSOs are looking inward to center racial equity within their organization. The vast majority of assessment respondents (86%) reported that their PSOs have considered how to center racial equity across their organization and within the context of their mission.
  • While commitment from executive leadership is vital, equally as important is the buy-in from staff to infuse racial equity across the organization. Compared to the baseline assessment, respondents in 2022 reported greater momentum coming from staff and board members to set clear goals, objectives, and/or strategies to advance racial equity.
  • PSOs’ budgets are more frequently prioritizing racial equity efforts. A larger proportion of PSOs in 2022 are committing funds or grants to support their internal racial equity efforts.

Recommendations

  • Continue to look inward. Although PSOs have made notable progress in advancing their internal racial equity efforts, with more PSOs reporting they are in the more advanced internal stages of development, there continues to be an opportunity for PSOs to genuinely examine how their policies, practices, and culture support or hinder their racial equity efforts.
  • Secure the commitment of senior leadership and board members. PSOs that reported making gains to advance their internal racial equity efforts noted that having the support of senior leadership and board members was crucial. Senior leadership and board members hold tremendous power that is often needed to make significant and lasting changes across the institution.
  • Diversify the board, senior leadership, and staff. Bringing onboard diverse perspectives helped these PSOs take bolder stances on racial equity, embed racial equity as part of their strategic framework, and actively and continuously engage in conversations that center racial equity and justice.
  • Increase PSOs members’ understanding of racial equity. A growing number of PSOs shared that the reluctance of their membership base to support racial equity efforts hinders the progress they are making to advance racial equity efforts – both internally within their organization and externally with their members and constituencies.
  • Normalize conversations about race, racial equity, and racial justice. Engaging in discussions and conversations about race-related topics can create discomfort for individuals and many institutions choose to avoid these topics. Several PSOs shared that being open to discussions about race and racism and, importantly, being open to discomfort was an important step to focusing on their internal racial equity efforts.

As in 2019, the development of the assessment was made possible thanks in part to financial support from Borealis Philanthropy’s Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund.