Bracing to Lead Through Post-Election Uncertainty

As we prepare for a pivotal moment in our political history, social sector leaders are grappling with the uncertainty of this election and the looming impact it will have on their teams. What do I say? Should I share my own perspectives? What are other organizations doing? How should I support my staff on Wednesday and in the weeks that follow? We’ve heard leaders wrestle with these and other questions as they plan for an imminent new reality this week (and beyond). Whatever results come or remain unknown on election day, we will face the challenge of taking care of the communities we serve while simultaneously trying to take care of our colleagues and ourselves. Here are measures social sector leaders are taking, including our own, to support their teams after Election Day.

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.

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.

From Saviorism to Co-Conspiring

In this month’s blog exploring cross-cutting themes that surfaced in our DEI in Action case studies we released recently, Promise54's Dawn Albert and Lora Cover take a closer look at one theme that surfaced in Blue Engine and TNTP’s cases  — the role(s) of white folks in racial equity work. This blog is written by white folks, and directed toward white folks.

These are not the case studies you’re used to.

Ever since Promise54 released Unrealized Impact — a first-of-its-kind effort to quantify the state of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the education field — we’ve received many requests for narratives sharing organizations’ actual DEI journeys. 

We’ve heard you loud and clear!

Radically Human.

At Promise54, one of our most sacred guiding principles is the idea of being radically human. Xiomara Padamsee, Promise54's CEO, shares what it means to her, and where it came from.