Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

What to Do when Staffing and Budget Constraints Threaten EDI Efforts

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June 10, 2024

Many social sector organizations are facing staffing challenges and tight budget constraints. For leaders striving to hold on to their organizational commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), keeping the work going can feel like navigating hurdle after hurdle.

Amid the ebbs and flows in support for EDI in the workplace, staff capacity is a constant factor. In our work at Social Current, we have seen that the organizations that are able to successfully advance equity over the long term pay attention to the time and resources needed to achieve their goals. They also allow provide the flexibility and support their staff need to thrive.

Some strategies for managing through times of reduced capacity include:

Adapt Your EDI Goals and Action Plan

Review your goals for the year and for the longer term. Which are already embedded into existing work and job responsibilities? Make sure to capture their progress. Identify the strategies and tactics that will require a significant lift from your committee or new resources and revise your plan to reflect the reality of your staff capacity and existing commitments. It’s better to prioritize and reduce the number of goals for the year than to risk burnout by asking people to take on more than is feasible.

Keep Goals Aligned and Focused

It’s often easier to give up the difficult work and keep the bare minimum going during times of low capacity. When identifying core goals to focus on for the year, choose what’s most important, the ones that address root causes of your biggest challenges. This may look like:

  • Pausing your EDI newsletter and quarterly brown bag discussions in favor of implementing your staff professional development plan.
  • Eliminating subcommittees or discussion groups to engage staff members in conducting your program equity audit.
  • Prioritizing learning for staff members on topics/issues they’ve identified as critical, holding off on implementing other action items until core training is complete.

Be sure to consider the data on your organization’s current needs and readiness when making choices. Identify the leverage potential of each strategy and create a balance that allows you to continue making progress toward embedding EDI over the long term.

Strengthen Your Committee Structure

It’s important not to relegate implementation of the organization’s EDI goals to one or two people, even during lean times. Committees are a proven strategy for maintaining momentum over the long term. It’s important to build a network of staff EDI champions and increase the diversity of voices when making decisions. Committees also serve as an important anchor for your champions, as well as the skeptical, to see the continued commitment to your stated EDI goals and values.

Communicate Progress and Challenges

Transparency is critical for shifting the organization’s culture to embed EDI values and practices. Report to staff on the changes made to the EDI plan, the goals that will be prioritized, and the reason for the shifts. Follow up with regular reports on the data so that staff can see the progress made.

Additional Resources and Support

  • Guide to Creating an Effective Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee: If your committee needs support or could benefit from a review of structure, download Social Current’s free guide on effective EDI committees. It includes recommendations for a committee’s purpose and authority, size and makeup, and troubleshooting common committee challenges.
  • Virtual Training: Advancing Equity Workshop: Fundamentals to Support Your Journey, offered in July and November, is a three-part training to help you advance your personal EDI journey, build an inclusive workplace culture, and become more aware of the systems that impact us all.
  • Customized Consultation: Social Current’s experienced staff can help you jumpstart your efforts or troubleshoot challenges, which could save you time and money in the long run. Our services can be tailored to your organization’s specific needs.
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About Social Current

Social Current is the premier partner and solutions provider to a diverse network of human and social service organizations. We offer a range of innovative solutions through COA Accreditation, consultation, impact partnerships, knowledge curation and dissemination, learning collaboratives, networking, public policy advocacy and mobilization, and trainings.