Helping Workforce Development Funders Prioritize Racial Equity

Posted February 10, 2021, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Woman talking on phone in a professional setting

Work­force devel­op­ment fun­ders can be effec­tive change­mak­ers in the push to pro­mote racial equi­ty, accord­ing to a new pub­li­ca­tion pro­duced with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s support.

Racial Equi­ty Frame­work for Work­force Devel­op­ment Fun­ders iden­ti­fies spe­cif­ic steps that fun­ders can take to com­bat sys­temic racism and help lev­el the play­ing field — in school and at work — for peo­ple of col­or. The doc­u­ment, released by the phil­an­thropic net­work Work­force Mat­ters, stems from con­ver­sa­tions among a group of 13 orga­ni­za­tions that fund work­force devel­op­ment efforts.

The chal­lenge

Many peo­ple of col­or still face bar­ri­ers to career and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties, due to past racist prac­tices and poli­cies, such as occu­pa­tion­al seg­re­ga­tion and lim­it­ed sup­ports for agri­cul­tur­al and domes­tic work­ers. Among those impact­ed: Black, Lati­no and Indige­nous peo­ple, who are far less like­ly than their white peers to have jobs that pay fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing wages. The eco­nom­ic tur­moil stem­ming from the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has exac­er­bat­ed exist­ing inequities that deep­en these dis­par­i­ties, the pub­li­ca­tion says.

Rec­om­men­da­tions for the field

Racial Equi­ty Frame­work for Work­force Devel­op­ment Fun­ders calls on fun­ders to invest in:

  • the devel­op­ment of lead­ers of color;
  • employ­ers, grantees, con­sul­tants and ven­dors that demon­strate equi­table hir­ing and employ­ment practices;
  • research that demon­strates the val­ue of diver­si­ty, equi­ty and inclu­sion in the work­place and exam­ines how work­force train­ing and edu­ca­tion­al poli­cies might affect peo­ple of col­or and oth­er mar­gin­al­ized communities;
  • advo­ca­cy and case build­ing about why com­mu­ni­ties of col­or must be equi­tably rep­re­sent­ed in all indus­tries and occupations;
  • strate­gies that help build work­er pow­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly those of col­or, and make it eas­i­er for them to switch jobs or take legal action if they are dis­crim­i­nat­ed against at work; and
  • stan­dards to which fun­ders may hold them­selves account­able for racial equi­ty — includ­ing met­rics for chang­ing inter­nal poli­cies, prac­tices and for adjust­ing grant­mak­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and initiatives.

Beyond these rec­om­men­da­tions, the pub­li­ca­tion defines key terms — such as diver­si­ty, inclu­sion and racial equi­ty — and breaks down how fun­ders can help to advance these con­cepts in local work­force devel­op­ment efforts. It also spot­lights employ­ment and train­ing ini­tia­tives that cen­ter racial equi­ty, includ­ing the Casey-sup­port­ed Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial (LEAP)™ initiative.

Down­load the publication

Work­force devel­op­ment leaves too many tal­ent­ed indi­vid­u­als of col­or behind,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion who co-chairs a Work­force Mat­ters racial-equi­ty work­ing group. We hope fun­ders and work­force col­leagues use this frame­work to iden­ti­fy con­crete ways to inter­rupt sys­temic racism and to spark broad­er con­ver­sa­tions about racial equi­ty that are urgent­ly need­ed in the field.”

Learn more from Casey’s Race Equi­ty and Inclu­sion Action Guide

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