Supervisors of Development Staff of Color

The first work for supervisors of development staff of color in understanding their challenges of development staff of color is personal – understanding your own lens on structural racism and how it affects your staff of color’s ability to be successful at their jobs.

  • Engage in your own DEI training, readings and professional development. Take the time to explore your own biases (unconscious and conscious) and how they might be impacting your perception of the capabilities and potential of the people who you manage. Be sensitive to the reality of racial equity issues in society at large, but especially in the development program with its built-in tensions around class, power and privilege.
     
  • Strive to develop open, trusting and supportive relationships with all of your staff. Get to know them as people, and not just a job title or function, by giving due attention to the “who” of the work, and not just the “what.” With respect to supervising fundraisers of color, this means understanding that DEI issues are real and that they occur within the confines of the work they do as well as in the outside world. Be sensitive to the fact that what may seem like a “small” or relatively minor issue is often compounded by many other pressures and circumstances the supervisor may not necessarily be aware of. Your ability to listen and empathize is critical. If you need support in this aspect of your role, request it from leadership.
     
  • Take time to reflect on the team-building environment that helps your supervisees feel acclimated and welcomed into the organization. Consider what opportunities for exposure to other aspects of the mission they have been given. Check in to inquire about other ways you can align their interests with the work of the organization.
     
  • Be open to feedback if your nonprofit is still in the early stages of addressing inclusion, and be prepared to listen to what can sometimes be difficult critiques about internally-focused or externally-generated racial tensions.
     
  • Make an investment in building and broadening the skills of your development staff so they feel ready to take on additional professional responsibilities as they arise. Consider what access to mentoring, job shadowing and coaching might look like, and make sure your employees take advantage of these activities. Be transparent about the pathway to promotion, and establish one if it doesn’t already exist.
     
  • Advocate for development staff of color in your charge. Be the influencer on the executive director, where possible, and stand up for the needs of your supervisees.
     
  • Open up your networks within the organization as well as externally, to help your direct reports build connections and relationships with stakeholders in the profession.
     
  • Make sure your assessment of development staff of color’s performance is based on transparent, established checkpoints (see HR department recommendations).
     

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