Our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization
by WREN Staff on Nov 11, 2020
In June WREN sent a message of solidarity with Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in this country who bear the brunt of state-sanctioned violence handed down through generations of systemic racism and anti-Blackness. In this message, we made a promise to our network to become an actively anti-racist organization. We acknowledge that releasing a statement does little to address the historic and continuing trauma Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities endure daily, nor does it address WREN’s complicity in upholding white supremacy. Dismantling entrenched white supremacy within our organization and the social institutions we touch requires bold action, not empty rhetoric. We will back up our promises with a commitment to anti-racist practice that we hope will lead to meaningful change. Dismantling white supremacy will take sustained, collective effort, and we invite your input to foster a climate of accountability inside WREN, now and in the future.
Here are some of the steps WREN has taken to become actively Anti-Racist since June 2020:
As we developed our 2021-2023 strategic plan, we worked with board, staff, and external stakeholders to assess where we have fallen short in being actively and explicitly anti-racist, and where we can make immediate improvements. We assessed our programs, communications, community outreach and engagement, fundraising, human resource practices, and internal decision-making practices. Our strategic plan includes specific and measurable targets in all of these areas.
HR Policy Updates
We will continue to assess policies and practices to determine where we can better align with racial equity principles. Updates to employment policies include:
- Revisions to all of our human resources policies to help increase overall staff diversity and diversity in leadership.
- Improvements to our Inclusion and Equity policy.
- A new employee compensation strategy that solidifies our commitment and steps taken to ensure fair and measurable pay practices.
In the past, WREN has inconsistently compensated presenters for speaking at events that generated registration fees. We recognize the harm that we caused to presenters by not paying them for their labor, especially those who have the least access to structural privilege. Charging registration fees for events presents financial barriers that limit accessibility. To address these harms, we are committed to:
- Compensating speakers for meetings and events.
- Prioritizing accessibility of events by removing as many financial barriers as possible.
- Prioritizing Black, Brown, Indigenous, Immigrant, LGBTQ+, and Disabled vendors and consultants in all projects.
We are committed to transforming our organizational culture to reflect the values of racial equity and gender justice by:
- Bringing in outside experts to help us identify internal barriers to inclusion and equity (through internal surveys, one-on-one discussions, and group discussions); support to build a more cohesive and trusting team.
- Adopting inclusive practices regarding gender identity (e.g., identification of pronouns in meetings, interviews, and digital communications, prioritizing venues with gender-inclusive restrooms, implementing a bathroom buddies plan for venues with gendered restrooms).
- Investing in training for staff and board on anti-racist practice.
Urgency, one of the tenets of white supremacy culture, disrupts the trust-building process. We will nurture our partnerships with organizations led by Black, Brown, Indigenous, Immigrant, LGBTQ+, and Disabled people by centering their needs and setting realistic time frames to achieve shared goals. We will allow ourselves more time to develop relationships with these organizations and grassroots leaders and co-create content for events that amplify underrepresented voices. We will begin this process by offering space for connection and collaboration and engaging in skillshares to help build our collective capacity for organizing.
- Being more explicit about analysis and communications that incorporate racial disparities (e.g., moving from race-“neutral” analysis of the gender wage gap to one that highlights racial disparities upfront)
- Prioritizing accessibility of events by removing as many financial barriers as possible
- Continuing to name white supremacy and racism as the root causes for inequality in this state and identify solutions that will help to uproot them in our policies, institutions, and systems.
Inclusive Policy Agenda Framework
WREN’s policy agenda framework is rooted in the principles of fairness, equity and inclusiveness, so that all women and gender-expansive people —of every race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, family status, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression – can prosper and thrive. It reflects the importance of policy that serves across lifespan and regardless of income, identity or background. To that end, we will work to center the needs of Black women, Brown women, Indigenous women, immigrant women, LGBTQ people, women with disabilities, and women with low incomes in our policy recommendations through surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one conversations with community leaders. Our policy framework will undergo a rigorous vetting process by Black, Brown, Indigenous, Immigrant, LGBTQ+, Disabled, low-income, and grassroots leaders prior to its adoption.
- The formation of a multi-identity Anti-Racist Working Group comprised of WREN staff and board members focused on guiding a change process to align policies, practices and culture with the values of diversity, inclusion and racial equity.
- Participation in a White Working Group with white-identifying staffers from coalition partners within the Southeastern Alliance for Reproductive Equity (SEARE) to identify and process the ways white supremacy affects us as individuals, how that shows up in our work, and how we can move toward better practice and accountability.
- A commitment to co-creating leadership structures with decision-making power explicitly centering Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Immigrant leaders.
- A commitment to developing audit tools and evaluation processes to support our accountability (both by internal staff and external stakeholders).
- A commitment to language justice and accessibility, starting with Spanish speaking communities and disabled people.
We will continue to learn and grow as individuals and as an organization. WREN by definition is a network. As such, we commit to educating each and every member of our network in anti-racist practices. The network should be a place where members work toward equity without fear. While no space can be truly free from harm, WREN will strive to reduce harm to those who disproportionately experience gender injustice. Each member of the network will be encouraged to contribute their power for the good of the whole. We are a network of thousands and we hope our commitment today will build a better South Carolina in the future. We hope you will learn and grow with us.