As part of our commitment to advancing racial equity, EDAM will be highlighting excerpts from the International Economic Development Council’s Playbook for Equitable Economic Development
throughout the year. The following excerpt highlights key points from the chapter entitled Managing EDOs.
One strategy that an economic development organization (or business) can deploy to show commitment to diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) in their communities with their actions is to create a DEI statement. The IEDC Playbook for Equitable Economic Development recommends five elements for a meaningful statement:
- Name the problem unequivocally – Avoid “we are in this together” platitudes and overly-broad language like (“people of color” or “minority” or “diversity.”) While those are positive areas of focus, this moment is about the Black community and should be named as such.
- Demonstrate empathy – Show that you hear the community’s pain, trauma, anger, sadness, grief. This is about the Black community’s pain, not your company’s . Show that you are listening and you hear them.
- Demonstrate humility – Indicate that your company is doing its own self reflection right now and listening and learning. . . . Don’t rely on statements like “we’ve got a diverse board,” “… diverse employee base,” or “we’ve been doing XXX in this area” without acknowledging there is still work to be done.
- State your plan of action – A statement of solidarity without sharing how your company will be part of the long term solution may be seen as empty. It might be a financial donation to an organization working on the cause, or – even better – setting aside an annual budget for the cause. Perhaps it’s reviewing your own hiring/board recruitment practices to ensure they’re aligned with your stated values, advocating for change at the local/state/ federal policy level, etc. But make sure this is stated from a place of service and not self promotion.
- Do the work – Follow through with your plan of action. Your clients and prospects are watching and so is history. Authentic contributions to the long-term solution will be appreciated. Inauthentic ones will fall flat.
Read Full Playbook
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, nonpartisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,500 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Learn more at www.iedconline.org.