Pronoun ribbons at the 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference.
August 23, 2018

Updates on NTEN’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work

As we shared back in March, a group of NTEN staff meet regularly as a diversity, equity, and inclusion taskforce. The work of this taskforce is to identify opportunities to make changes and implement them, big or small, to get us ever closer to living our values and DEI commitment. It is important to us that we are accountable to you all—our community—in this work. And to support that accountability, we want to provide some transparency into both the process of this work and the outputs.

The taskforce has been busy! We meet twice a month and have adjusted our meetings to have one long (60 minutes) meeting for new topics and discussion and one short (30 minutes) meeting for updates and final decisions. This has already proven to be a valuable change for our working styles and gives us time to dig deep into topics, identify work to be done outside of the meeting, and be accountable by reconvening to review and approve the work and next steps.

We’ve had some valuable conversations both as a taskforce and as a full team that haven’t resulted in tangible outputs yet but will continue to shape and inform our thinking and decisions to come.

These include conversations about feedback from community members illustrating the relative ease we have had at publicly championing conversations and actions around gender—and the challenges we’ve had in identifying or leading in similar ways around race. We aren’t, for example, going to put ribbons out at our conference and ask people to identify their race the way we do with pronoun ribbons. But we are committed to finding more ways to elevate racial equity.

Here’s a recap of some of the specific decisions and actions that have come from this work:

  • For a few years now, we have included pronoun ribbons for attendees at our annual conference, provided all gender restrooms, and so on. But we had not taken the important step to make some of those actions visible as staff year round. We now have a pronoun page on the website with information and links to resources. Staff are encouraged to include pronouns (and a link to that page) in their email and online community signatures..
  • Our DEI Commitment and associated policies guided us in identifying more opportunities to make our NTC session proposal, submission, and voting process more inclusive. It also informed the process we used for recruiting and selecting this year’s Session Advisory Committee. We received 785 total session submissions this year, over 200 more submissions than last year!
  • To be more transparent about the benefits we provide to staff, support potential job applicants in knowing whether working here would meet their needs and goals, and model our belief that all organizations should make their benefits public, we created a Working at NTEN page on our website.
  • We updated our Code of Conduct based on the DEI Commitment, to be consistent across these documents about the ways we reference diversity and make clear our community engagement expectations.
  • All of our Nonprofit Tech Club and online group organizer charters now include the DEI Commitment and the relevant policies.
  • Staff are better positioned to communicate our policy about participating in panels or events only if they are diverse—which has been a practice for longer than our stated policy—by now having the policy publicly listed on our website.
  • The NTEN Job Board now provides information about why including a salary range is important. This is a first-step measure to start educating job posters about this topic, recognizing that many of people posting the jobs are not necessarily the ones to make the decision about including that information. Our hope is that we can equip them with the right information to change their own internal practice around including salaries in job postings, and that we eventually change our job submission form to require a salary be listed.
  • In the past, we provided 10 paid holidays each year (in addition to paid time off) but the dates of those holidays were decided to match the federal calendar. Telling staff that they need to take December 25 off, whether that day has any significance to them or not, and that other days in December were not an equivalent holiday, was not aligned with our values nor our Commitment. Staff now have 10 holidays they can take each year (still in addition to PTO) but they are entirely flexible and can be used on any day of the year.

Some of the topics coming up in the next month or two for the taskforce include:

  • Continue working to normalize the use of pronouns in public ways like on the staff page, board page, in the online community, and in presentations.
  • We gathered great feedback from staff at our summer all-staff planning meetings about the policies included in the DEI commitment now that they had been in use for a few months. We will use that feedback to make edits and additions.
  • Outside of the taskforce, we are forming an Accessibility Committee for the NTC. Applications will be accepted until September, 28. The taskforce will support the committee and looks forward to learning from them, too.

Community members are welcome and invited to bring questions, concerns, feedback, or ideas to us anytime, and are invited to attend a meeting whether you want to add something to the agenda or not. You can contact us by phone (503-272-8800) or email (community@nten.org) at any time, or you can submit anonymous feedback by using this online form.

Amy Sample Ward
Driven by a belief that the nonprofit technology community can be a movement-based force for positive change, Amy is NTEN’s CEO and former membership director. Her prior experience in direct service, policy, philanthropy, and capacity-building organizations has also fueled her aspirations to create meaningful, inclusive, and compassionate community engagement and educational opportunities for all organizations. Amy inspires the NTEN team and partners around the world to believe in community-generated change. She believes technology can help nonprofits reach their missions more effectively, efficiently, and inclusively, and she’s interested in everything from digital equity to social innovation.