Solidarity for Good: Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

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As progressive nonprofit employees, we know there is strength in diversity. At our respective nonprofits, many of us craft and promote progressive policy solutions to racial, gender and ethnic inequity. By joining together in a union, we’ve worked collaboratively to implement policies that foster diversity, inclusion, and equality in our workplaces.

Here are some examples of how we have encouraged diversity and equality at our respective organizations:

  • Diversity commitments: Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU) members have negotiated for clauses in our union contracts that commit our employers to increasing diversity.
  • Diversity in hiring: Our members at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have secured commitments from their organization to recruit candidates from historically black colleges and universities and attend career fairs focusing on historically marginalized groups. Additionally, our CAP members have acted on their opportunity to work with managers in CAP’s Diversity and Inclusion committee to review the hiring process and provide guidance to improve the process. Economic Policy Institute's (EPI’s) Diversity Committee has submitted recommendations – approved by the unit – that ensure that EPI hiring practices do not result in less-than-equitable hiring patterns. Our members at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and the Center for Community Change (CCC) have contracts that commit their organizations to hiring from a diverse pool of applicants as well.
  • Climate surveys: Our members at CAP negotiated for climate surveys, or surveys that solicit employees’ experience of the work environment and identify strengths and weakness. Climate surveys often include questions about diversity, inclusion, and bias. Our members and the leadership of CAP’s diversity committee will work together to address issues identified by the survey.
  • Anti-discrimination policies: Institutional policies that forbid discrimination in the workplace are a key component of promoting an inclusive environment. Recently, our CAP members worked with management to formulate an even stronger anti-discrimination policy includes a more exhaustive list of what constitutes harassing behavior, protections for incidents that occur not just at the office but also at work-related events, and a more transparent reporting and investigations process.    
  • Closing the wage gap: Racial pay inequality continues to be a problem for employees in the U.S. Black workers make less than whites at every education level, according to 2016 research by EPI. Specifically, the median black worker made 75 percent of what the median white worker made in an hour in 2016. As for Hispanic men, they earned 69 percent of white men’s earnings in 2015. Women of color face a wage gap both due to their race and gender. According to EPI’s research, black women earned only 65 cents on the white male dollar and Hispanic women earned only 59 cents on the white male dollar. We’ve bargained to try to close these gaps at NPEU-organized workplaces:

o  Pay equity analysis: Our members at CCC have negotiated for a labor management committee that will discuss and address pay equity issues at least annually. Those of us employed at CAP have committed the organization to conducting a pay equity analysis and addressing the identified issues, if any, collaboratively with management.

o   Pay transparency: Pay transparency enables pay disparities based on race, ethnicity, and/or gender to be identified. We’ve negotiated at multiple organizations for open and clear pay scales that allow employees to identify their salary by job title, experience, skills, and training.

o   Family Friendly Work Policies: Women who have a family tend to be penalized because they may have to leave the workforce after the birth of a child, at least initially. Gaps in work can cause women with children to have a permanent loss in wages as they fall behind their male counterparts who did not temporarily leave the workforce. As institutions, CAP and EPI have recommended solutions that include family friendly, work-life policies to help women stay in the work force, or not penalize women who temporarily leave. Paid sick days allow our members to care for sick family members, attend medical appointments, and stay home when they are sick themselves as well as balance their work responsibilities. The generous sick leave policies we’ve negotiated help all employees, and especially alleviate the burden on parents. For example, our members at EPI accrue 96 hours of sick leave per year. We’ve also negotiated for paid family leave for parents for the adoption or birth of a child—that ranges from six weeks to six months depending on the employer—which allows our members to balance the demands of work and family.

o   Flexible work locations: At the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF), we secured the right for employees to work at alternate locations if family needs arise, and worked with the organization to put the structures in place to ensure staff could stay home with sick kids when needed, but supervisors could ensure open lines of communication and checks to ensure work was still getting completed.

Solidarity for good is our motto for a reason. By negotiating contracts that allow us  to root out inequity and embrace differences, we are making our organizations even better places to work and promoting workplace standards that are in the interest of the common good.

If you are interested in learning more about us or starting a union at your nonprofit, please reach out!