DELTA INSTITUTE’S STATEMENT OF COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION
Delta Institute can only be successful in its mission if we direct our capacities, power, and collaborations toward creating greater equity and reversing institutional racism. We regard environmental challenges as intersectional issues that reveal disparities in how we allocate resources and value communities. We envision a region where ALL communities and landscapes thrive. This has not been the case since the forced removal of Kickapoo, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Peoria, Wyandotte, Delaware, and many other tribes from their ancestral lands. We recognize that racial animus, segregation, and institutional inequities have shaped our region and robbed us all of our potential.
At our core, we are an organization that is defined by its people and communities accelerating change, it is written into our very name. We do not minimize the challenges inherent to creating change, and believe it is part of our mission to interrogate ugly histories and current realities, and constantly learn, test, and collaborate until a new, better way of doing things is the standard. We believe that the solutions to our most difficult equity and environmental challenges are already being articulated in the communities that are impacted, and we seek to be a strong partner in securing resources, technical assistance, and government capacity to amplify and accelerate these remedies. To that end, we commit to building and sustaining an organization that represents all communities, to creating an atmosphere where we can bring our full selves to our work, and to directing our energy, diverse perspectives, and broad capacities to the task of renewing our region.
We have formally engaged in Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work since 2016 and created an ad hoc DEI committee including our staff, board, and auxiliary board in April 2019. We approached this as a process of continuous improvement, reflection and learning with the goal of integrating DEI into our programs and operations. This process includes the following ongoing activities:
- Expand representation of BIPOCs at all levels of the organization, including senior leadership.
- Assess our performance on DEI parameters through internal surveys and review processes across stakeholder groups.
- Acknowledge and create processes to reduce implicit bias in our hiring processes.
- Collaborate more equitably with our partners by uncovering hidden power dynamics, recognizing that community partners are best positioned to lead, and working proactively with partners to determine the best role Delta can take in collaborations.
- Communicating with funders about DEI dynamics in their grantmaking.
- Utilize our communications and fundraising channels to amplify partner community organizations and groups led by BIPOCs.
- Curate resources to help build our organizational capacity around intersectional DEI concepts.
- Ensure communications tools, particularly our website, are inclusive to those with disabilities and incorporate ADA Website Compliance 2.0 Guidelines.
Delta’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve this Statement of Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in March 2021. We at Delta are using this Statement to sizably inform all of our policies, processes, practices, and partnerships, including our strategic plan. We are an organization of iteration, evaluation, and continuous improvement, and this includes how we best create thriving landscapes and communities throughout the Midwest. For questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.
OUR NEXT STEPS
Delta Institute undertook and recently completed an 18-month planning period to identify, explore, and strengthen our goals related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Delta recognized in Spring 2019 that we need to evolve to better serve our community partners to achieve our shared vision of a thriving Midwest. This means that we must be authentic and inclusive at our fundamental core, ensuring that we do not contribute to legacy injustices that the 501c3 sector has indirectly/directly perpetuated.
To face this reality headfirst, Delta convened a DEI Committee composed of staff, associate board, and governing board members to create a comprehensive overview of our approach to DEI, with clearly defined and actionable recommendations so that our work results in actual, verifiable change within the organization at all levels. Being candid, we simply could not continue doing “business as usual” if we want to be a genuine and inclusive partner.
In the spirit of collaboration and transparency, we published our DEI Executive Summary online to share more about where we’ve been and where we’re going as an organization. We are using this document and a robust roster of additional DEI resources to help draft a new Strategic Plan. Our current Strategic Plan goes through the end of our FY22 (June 30, 2022)—but we realized that our current Plan is not reflective of who we are, or who we want to be. We will share more in our newsletter and online in the months to come. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.