As your organization leans into Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) work it’s important to remember that financial policies can either advance or hinder the progress you are making. Aligning financial practices with the strategic goals of the organization will always take you further faster. Here are a few things to consider:
1. Financial Assistance
If your organization provides scholarships or other financial assistance for programs, take a fresh look at the structure of the assistance scale and the ease of access for constituents. Consider linking your assistance scale to widely embraced data points like the United States poverty level, living wage calculations for your area or median household incomes. Data driven models can reduce bias, allow more dollars to flow to those most in need and even allow you to potentially serve a larger group of people. Consider also how to make the process simpler and easier. If a family has already been vetted and approved by a local government entity for another form of assistance, can you accept that in lieu of a separate and lengthy application? Do you have a place in your facility where intake can happen in a private and dignified setting?
2. Vendor and Partner Selection
Your organization is likely to be actively partnering with other organizations in the community. Are you considering where they stand on DEI issues? Are your missions and purposes aligned in this way? Everyone who is working with you impacts the community’s trust as much as those working for you.
Does your spending in the community reflect your commitment to DEI? Understanding where your vendors stand is important, as is actively seeking to engage with Minority & Women Owned Businesses (MWBE). You may have long standing relationships with suppliers that work very well. But when it’s time to branch into a new space, or to put existing services out for an RFP, don’t just look in the same places you always have. Consider researching certified MWBEs in your area and encourage a preapproval or preregistration process with your procurement team.
Collecting cash payments for program services can be expensive and difficult to control. Staff must either transport cash to the bank, with the risks involved, or pay a courier service to make the route for them. Banks are also increasingly charging fees for cash deposits. Understandably, many finance leaders have been working to eliminate cash from the revenue cycle of their organization. But consider that some of your constituents may live and work in a cash driven tradition. Why they do is much less important than the fact that they do. And if you are unwilling or unable to accommodate this very real need, this group may be blocked from accessing your services. Balance your need for internal control with the realities of those you wish to serve when it comes to cash and other forms of payment.
Finally, you aren’t going to hope your way to a diverse, equitable and inclusive organization. Strategic initiatives that are funded get accomplished. Your budget should reflect the spending required to get where you want to be. Consider this funding an item that needs to happen and commit to not cutting back during the year if the budget gets tight.
How has your organization and Finance Team made changes to move towards a more diverse, equitable and inclusive way of work? Let us know in the comments below.