We invite you to read the following blog post from Kim Walker, Arabella’s Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, that contextualizes our work in this area in light of recent events: Fighting Racism and Advancing Equity at Arabella and Beyond
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
We encourage you to listen to our firm’s DEI statement, developed in 2020, by watching the following video. The video features our Inclusion Leaders at Arabella, the co-authors of this statement. You can also find the full text of the statement below.
About this statement: The statement below summarizes Arabella’s perspective on why diversity, equity, and inclusion matter to our work, how we have been engaged in this work thus far, and how we plan to engage in it moving forward. Its purpose is to communicate to staff, partners, and clients our perspective in a spirit of accountability and transparency.
Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our firm and in our work with partners is critical to our mission. To be effective partners to philanthropists, nonprofits, and communities impacted by philanthropic dollars, we need to have a highly diverse staff, a workplace where individuals are encouraged to retain their uniqueness and can feel a sense of belonging, and a nuanced understanding of the racial, ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other disparities that undergird the issues we engage in and the interactions we have with one another. For us, equity means that our staff members, our clients, and the people they serve can experience the same level of success, no matter their starting place.
Arabella’s commitment to equity is long term, and the reasons that motivate us to engage in this work vary. For some of us, this work is personal: we have experienced marginalization and exclusion and feel a responsibility to repair the systems that have failed our communities. For some of us, this work is still new, and we are still learning about the systems that shape our society and sector and create inequitable outcomes. But regardless of our lived experiences and backgrounds, all of us recognize our privilege as close partners to funders and want to use this privilege in a way that advances equitable outcomes for communities.
Our commitment to racial equity
Arabella also recognizes that racism has shaped the history of our world, country, and sector, and it continues to impact our day-to-day lives. Because race and ethnicity are such a strong predictor of inequitable outcomes on many of the issues we engage in, we are committed to using a racial equity lens when thinking about our goals and ways of operating as an organization, and when working in partnership with clients on the problems they are seeking to solve. While our expectation is not that all our clients and partners will share our perspective or focus their efforts on racial equity, it is our belief that being transparent about our own understanding of what drives disparities (race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and others) is essential to being good partners when seeking social change.
Our internal journey
Since 2015, our firm has more deeply and intentionally engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion work in two distinct but mutually supporting levels. First, we worked on, and continue to work on, shifting ourselves internally. For example, we have critically questioned and revamped some of our hiring practices, made changes to our compensation and performance management processes, made efforts to diversify the vendors we work with, and engaged in courageous conversations about our internal culture. We are currently concentrating our internal efforts on increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of our leadership team, assessing and improving our organizational culture so it is proactively self-reflective and inclusive, identifying and understanding power dynamics in the workplace and in the sector more broadly, and ensuring our managers are aware of their biases and striving to challenge them.
How we work with clients
As partners to funders and nonprofit leaders across the country, equity and inclusion informs how we provide services to our clients, and how we partner with organizations who have been doing racial equity work for decades. We strive to make equity part of our work no matter what type of client need we are fulfilling. Our teams have helped funders consider racial disparities as part of their analysis of societal problems, made the convenings we plan more racially diverse and inclusive, and designed governance processes that share decision-making power with those who are most impacted by the issues we seek to address. We have also helped clients adapt grant-making requirements so that grassroots organizations can more easily access philanthropic resources, and provided training on equitable and inclusive hiring and how to avoid gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Each of these efforts have been integral to our clients achieving impact in their work and in their communities. We continue to regularly reflect and adapt in order to center equity in our work.
Although we are still in the process of dismantling an inequitable and harmful status quo and learning new approaches that center communities in all philanthropic decisions, we maintain a long-term commitment to this work. We hope that you will join us, challenge us, and keep us accountable.
About our process: This statement was developed through a participatory process that included consultation with a group of 14 Arabellans representing all our teams, various levels of seniority at the firm, and individuals from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. Through four relationship-building and learning sessions facilitated by internal team members with DEI experience, the group developed a DEI statement aimed at communicating our vision for this work in the years to come.
Special thanks to our ILAs and DEI Working Group members who co-wrote this statement: Bruce Boyd, Hilary Cherner, Kheira Issaoui-Mansouri, Eva Keller, Cyrus Kharas, Jessica Love, Natasha Massie, Aditi Naik, Andrew Peters, Jennifer Sargent, Anthony Shelton, Jake Vojcek, Mareshah Wheeler, and Emily Wisniewski
As we strive to make philanthropy work better for our clients, we aim to make our workplace one that welcomes both partners and employees, and gives everyone the opportunity to learn, grow, and be challenged.
Our ILA group is a group of Arabellans across levels, departments, and offices who champion diversity, equity, and inclusion at our firm. ILAs are passionate about these issues and are involved in shaping internal culture, client engagements, and the recruitment process. Here’s what they have to say about this work:
“It’s empowering to work with an organization that recognizes historical and systemic inequity, and creates room for people to talk about it. Arabella has become a place with a lot more confidence to confront tough and scary issues. We may not solve the world’s problems, but we are doing our part, and that’s meaningful work.”
– Whitney Wade, Manager, Talent Acquisition & Diversity
“DEI in the workplace is highly beneficial to everyone involved. It leads to improvements in the quality of work, motivation, and creativity of the staff, more diverse perspectives leading to better decision-making, and a more enriched environment overall.”
– Fred Dechow, Senior Accountant
Arabella Advisors is proud to partner with a variety of national organizations that help us find the best talent for our company and educate our existing workforce.
The Washington, DC chapter of the National Black MBA Association selected Arabella’s CEO, Sampriti Ganguli, to receive the 2015 Corporate Trailblazer Award. The award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a sustained record of excellence in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Arabella is humbled and honored to have been recognized for the efforts of Sampriti and the firm as a whole.
A new Arabella resource, authored by Jessyca Dudley and Jessica Robinson Love with additional contributions from Kheira Issaoui-Mansouri and Allison Shean, shares useful lessons and considerations that may help as stakeholders across the social sector work to craft equitable and inclusive governance structures.Read More
Some of philanthropy’s core practices may unwittingly be leading funders to perpetuate the inequities they’re trying to eliminate. In an article originally published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review, we examine how, and share a checklist funders can use to better integrate DEI into their grant making.Read More
With support from JP Morgan Chase & Co., the New Venture Fund’s Harriet Ecosystem Initiative partnered with Arabella Advisors to produce ‘An Economy for All,’ a report which explores race- and gender-based inequalities in entrepreneurial funding and which proposes ways for philanthropy to use the power of impact investing to unlock capital for these entrepreneurs.Read More
In this piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Arabella explores our ongoing efforts—stumbles and all—to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, in the hopes that others can learn from our experience as they work toward our shared goals.Read More
In this two-part series, learn how leading funders are turning talk into action to achieve more equitable grant-making practices. Here, we consider the issues of transparent processes and decision making; Part 2 explores the connections between equity and responsible risk management practices.Read More
In this two-part series, learn how some funders are turning talk into action to achieve more equitable grant-making practices. In Part 1, we explored transparent processes and decision making. Here, we’ll consider the connections between equity and responsive risk management practices.Read More