Talking Points (Appendix I)
New Ways of Looking at Gender and Diversity
New Language - As a sector, we long have needed new language and new thinking to address stubborn issues like gender and diversity in philanthropy. New ways of labeling these issues—phrases like “deep diversity” and “naming Norm”—help us all to think differently about how we do our work.
"Intersectionality" - The goal is to think about gender in context of all the other ways people are seen as different from each other. It’s not “just” about gender, or “just” about race or ethnicity. The bigger picture of “intersectionality” highlights how all our differences—gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, disability, geography, age, learning styles, and all sorts of other physiological, social, cultural, and economically defined differences—combine to make all of us complex human beings.
Importance of “Institutionalizing” These Issues
Learning Organizations - Paying attention to these issues is not about “doing the right thing.” “Doing the right thing” is obviously important, but even more important is strengthening our organizations, using all of the “differences that divide us” to teach our organizations to become more effective. Differences help us become “learning organizations,” a proven strategy for organizational effectiveness.
“Deep Diversity” - We must look differently at issues of diversity within organizations. “Deep diversity” means that we learn to see the breadth of differences among our staff, trustees, and grantees: all the ways that we are different from each other. And it also means that we learn how to institutionalize that knowledge, make it part of our organization’s culture, as “normal” a part of our daily lives as how we answer the telephone.
“Naming Norm” - Foundations, nonprofits, and a wide range of other organizations must recognize Norm, the arbiter of “proper and acceptable behavior” that too often becomes an unnamed, undiscussable problem. Norm knowledge, awareness of all the ways differences are locked into how we see people and how organizational culture operates, is essential for effective philanthropy. Not all norms are harmful, but many do get in the way of our health and the health of our relationships and our organizations.
Gender and Norm
Understanding Gender Helps Us Understand “Norm” - Gender is a useful resource for understanding all kinds of differences, for understanding how unexamined assumptions about each other and what we think of as “normal” in organizations is key to achieving effective philanthropy. Norm Undermines Innovation Examples of the social construction of gender help document how Norm undermines innovation and effectiveness, both in foundations and in grantees.
“Funding Norm Doesn’t Fund Norma” - The same funding strategies that fund women and girls effectively are also practices that strengthen philanthropy, in general, which benefits all.
Knowing Where Foundation Dollars Are Spent - To be effective, philanthropy has to understand the implications and benefits of how and where its dollars are spent. Knowing who actually benefits from foundation grants is an important component of foundation accountability.
Not Just “A Fair Share” - The most appropriate goal for any funder committed to equitable funding is not assuring women and girls get a “fair share” of anything. The metaphor is misleading. The goal is “deep democracy,” a stronger, more vibrant society in which everyone’s diverse contributions are recognized, appreciated, utilized, and funded.
All Issues Are Women’s Issues Virtually all issues are women’s issues: better understanding how our society “constructs” gender is one avenue into understanding how all differences get in the way of effective philanthropy unless we learn to see through our unexamined assumptions. Women and Girls Not a “Special Interest” Group To label a majority of the population as a “special interest group” doesn’t make sense. Effective funders have learned that women’s and girls’ needs seldom are met if women and girls are considered mere “add-ons” to traditional philanthropic programs. Well-designed grants supporting the needs and strengths of women and girls both in this country and internationally are essential to effective philanthropy.