The Complexities of Resilience
We recently held a teamwide discussion of the concept of resilience, and asked Promise54 team members to share their reflections on how and where they learned about resilience and how they’re considering it today. When we entered into the conversation, we were expecting – and found! – inspiring stories of perseverance, courage, strength, power, and survival. But, notably, the notion of resilience can also be oppressive - a source of pain and suffering. We found ourselves in a rich discussion of the nuances, complexities, and trade-offs that can accompany resilience, as well as the ways in which the concept has been weaponized, and how our own beliefs about resilience have changed over time.
We’re eager to share the raw reflections of a subset of our team members, in hopes that readers find inspiration or meaning in them. But, before we fully dive in, we’d like to take a minute to make our intent clear: our aim is to reclaim the concept of resilience by embracing the consideration of all its nuances.
Ring the Alarm: When the “Burden Alert” Sounds, Think Informed Consent
In this moment many organizations are scrambling to articulate commitments to DEI, anti-racism, and racial justice and to do the hard work of living and leading in alignment with those commitments. As leaders work to figure out how to do all of that, there is often a tendency to turn to Black and Brown folks (or folks with other historically marginalized identities) to ask for input, help, guidance, and leadership. When that tendency kicks in, the “burden alert” should sound!
50 Actions Your Org Can Take After Posting About BLM
This list is intended to serve as a starting point for leaders contemplating where to go from here and for staff members who are advocating and case-making within their own organizations. It also serves as a reminder that words and written statements, shared internally or publicly, must be accompanied by substantive action and change.
We share this to help broaden the conversation as organizations think through what action to take. It is best used as a menu - pursuing the strategies that make sense for your people and context - rather than as a checklist to complete.
We Can’t Disrupt White Supremacy and Anti-Blackness Without a Mirror
As we consider our historical treatment of members of the Black community in the US versus today, the realities are eerily similar. The common denominator is white supremacy and anti-Blackness. White supremacy and anti-Blackness are insidious in part because they have been deeply embedded within us over multiple generations of socialization. That means we won’t be able to truly dismantle or rebuild - as a nation and within our own organizations - unless a mirror is one of our primary tools. So, let’s each take a long hard look, breathing slowly and deeply, to interrogate our own upbringing, beliefs, fears, insecurities, comfort, privileges, leadership, and safety.
Stressful Times Highlight Painful Truths: A Progress Report on Brown v. Board
This month marks the 66th anniversary of one of the most significant cases in education and civil rights history: Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the Supreme Court ended our racist, Jim Crow separatism in favor of equality and access for all, establishing the on-paper precedent that racial segregation in the U.S public school system was unconstitutional. At Promise54, we take special note of the landmark decision that inspired our name as well as our work to support our clients and push ourselves to deliver on Brown v Board’s promise. Unfortunately, there is still plenty to do.
If You’re Choosing Between “DEI” and Crisis Management, You’re Choosing Wrong.
The last few months have left me reeling - and fielding questions from clients who are reeling too - about how to approach DEI work in this maelstrom. Is now really the right time to be “doing DEI?” If so, why is it essential to prioritize DEI as the winds storm around us? And finally, how should organizations and their leaders prioritize DEI in the context of unprecedented strategic, financial, and moral obstacles?
The answer to all of these questions hinges on one of my fundamental truths: DEI is not a thing we do, it is the way we do everything.
Both/And: Values Based Decision Making in a Time of Crisis
Transforming core services to virtual overnight...bring your child to work EVERY day...sleepless worry for ourselves and our at-risk loved ones...even deeper divides along socio-economic and generational lines...amplified racism and xenophobia....How are we supposed to make the range of critical decisions required of us while swirling in the stress? Our brains have developed a response through biological evolution: pre-programmed shortcuts based on habits. But are the habits that we’ve built in the past representative of the leaders that we want to be today?
In times of stress, our brains naturally default to previously ingrained behaviors to navigate uncertainty. This includes existing habits around top-down, individualistic decision-making; information- (and thus power-) hoarding; and binary either/or thinking. In other words, unless we interrupt it, the extreme stress of today’s circumstances could lead many of us to default to white dominant culture habits in this exact moment when slow and intentional leadership, clear and transparent communication, and trust and relationship-informed decision making are most critical.
Must the show go on? COVID-19 and the Hidden Inequity of ‘Personal Choice’
Even as more large systems suspend activities to encourage social distancing, I continue to hear from many organizations in the non-profit, education, and philanthropic space where internal guidance around whether or not adult staff should travel or work from home really amounts to “use your discretion”, “it’s your personal choice”, or “suspend non-essential activities”. Here’s the problem: there are some messy, uncomfortable, hidden inequities in these generalized, personal choice messages.
Psychological Safety: What’s Keeping Your Team From Taking Critical Risks?
Promise54’s Vanessa Douyon and Kiera Vinson share their experience of how psychological safety within organizations fosters greater risk-taking, effectiveness, and productivity – and how your team can get there.
It’s About to Get Real…
This month, we’re naming a phenomenon that we see across organizations doing this work, including TNTP and Blue Engine: the more an organization centers DEI, the more unknowns are surfaced. Promise54’s COO Latricia Barksdale offers some things organizations can do to prepare for the bumpy road ahead.