Last month, FUND Community Institute released its most recent research report, Advancing Equity: Diversity and Inclusion at CDFIs (available at www.fundci.org ).
The report is based on research to identify the best practices of CDFIs that are recognized as being ahead of the curve in fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion both internally and externally. The purpose is to share both innovative and replicable practices for use by other CDFIs in advancing their own diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
Given the mission and history of the industry, a commitment to and knowledge of DEI issues is believed to be inherent to and part of the culture of CDFIs. However, while DEI issues are frequently part of industry discussions, these values and beliefs are not yet codified into formal policies or procedures.
A common theme from key informants is that, for most CDFIs, their support and implementation of DEI initiatives is an organic process that currently is mostly about consistently moving the pendulum closer to equity.
“I would probably describe our commitment as very, sort of, values led, but still quite informal.”
“I don’t know if we necessarily have any formal policies around that. It’s just ingrained in the values of the organization at every level.”
“I think there’s a lot of places we identify some of our core values as really highlighting DEI, but not necessarily being named explicitly as such.”
“We are in agreement, but there is nothing in our policies yet that reflects this.”
“Our culture is organically E and I – the way that we work with each other and give all people a chance to lead, but not in writing. We don’t have that structure.”
“Commitment to DEI, but need more language and intentionality behind it.”
“As a continual iterative process that’s more of a journey, not necessarily a destination.”
The beliefs and values that guide the community development finance industry would seem to be a strong basis for starting and propelling further many CDFIs on the movement towards diverse, equitable, and inclusive work places. In thinking about how CDFIs that are beginning to move the pendulum in their organizations, the research suggests one place to start might be with formalizing organizational values and beliefs. Next week we will discuss the importance of having formal value statements or mission statements that explicitly address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Does your organization have these? Do you think they are important?
FUND Community Institute (FUND CI)
FUND CI was founded in 2017 as part of the family of FUND Consulting organizations. In an effort to support the CDFI Industry, one of the main activities of the organization is to conduct and disseminate research on CDFIs and related topics. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org