Coalition for Racial & Ethnic Equity in Development
Equal Space for Every Creed & Race
Frequently Asked Questions
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Why sign a racial and ethnic equity pledge now?
Although equity has long been a dream of many, since 2020 the world, and particularly the United States, has seen a renewed and urgent call to address the systemic, structural, and personal impact of racism, neo-colonialism, and neo-dependency in all our social institutions and interactions. Racial and ethnic equity (REE) has become part of our common lexicon. The international development and humanitarian assistance sector and community are represented by organizations and individuals who are committed to fairness and justice in our missions, visions, and values. This pledge, and the resulting actions and change it will engender, will help organizations in this community hold ourselves accountable for what is within our power to improve.
Strengthening DEI, and specifically building REE, is a journey for societies, governments, organizations, and individuals to participate in and contribute to according to our roles and interests. Setting strategic and meaningful goals, agreeing on the urgency reflected in time-bound achievements on agreed responsibilities, and holding ourselves accountable with agreed metrics is the only clear path to a more equitable future for us all.
Tackling equity in measurable outcomes requires understanding the root causes that produce inequity. Despite our limited power to change societies rapidly given the weight of history, we all have the power within our organizations and in our communities to effect meaningful change. Change begins with taking the first step.
What is the difference between DEI and REE? Why do we need to do REE if we are doing DEI?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and REE are related but different terms.
DEI describes organizational policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of different ages, races, and ethnicities; abilities, gender identities; religions; cultures; and sexual orientations as well as people with diverse backgrounds, life and professional experiences, skills, and expertise.
REE describes a goal of realizing equality, parity, and justice specifically for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States. In particular, in the United States, policies and programs that address REE focus on power dynamics between western white and BIPOC individuals, and build equity to ensure fair access, opportunity, and advancement for BIPOC individuals on systemic, institutional, interpersonal, and individual levels that are free from bias and discrimination. While the international development and humanitarian assistance industry has made progress in addressing some aspects of DEI, REE has been an area of particular historical imbalance and exclusion and little targeted focus or progress has been made to date. A 2021 Benchmarking Race, Inclusion, and Diversity in Global Engagement (BRIDGE) Survey assessing DEI practices among United States-based international development and humanitarian assistance organizations, demonstrated that only 6% of CEOs are BIPOC men and only 4% are BIPOC women.
What is the business case for pursuing REE? What is the connection between our work and building REE?
CREED would like to include the broadest range of organizations in our sector, by business type, size, and mission. As leaders in our community and organizations, we want to lead to a better future. We have all participated in the longstanding debate on Aid Effectiveness, and we all want to have a positive impact beyond winning the next opportunity. However, we cannot wait on clients, market forces, and incentives to commit to this journey, which goes beyond laws and regulations. This commitment will be held as an essential feature of our license to do the work that we are all so passionate about.
There is a compelling business case for organizations in our industry to embark on this journey. Desirable outcomes include improved organizational culture, business outcomes (e.g., productivity, win rates, and market share), enhanced program effectiveness, more meaningful partnerships, and greater strategic and actual lasting impact. Although the representations and certifications we make to our clients on REE are evolving, we have no doubt that momentum is in this direction.
Part of our knowledge sharing and learning will focus on how commitments to DEI and REE can transform our sector.
How do we adapt the pledge for smaller organizations?
CREED does not attempt to set specific, internal work plans or goals for organizations. Rather, we present a broad set of commitments and outline processes and steps by which organizations are able to include and measure REE internally, which contributes to advancing REE in the international development and humanitarian assistance industry generally. Smaller organizations can and should participate by reviewing and adapting these commitments and goals to their missions and operations.
CREED recognizes that all organizations are different with respect not only to mission, size, and approach, but also their current level of engagement with addressing equity and inclusion. We do not expect every organization to implement all of the commitments immediately, nor in the same manner, but to identify the pathway that meets their reality and begin the journey with us as part of a learning community.
Why is this pledge focused on the United States-based organizations’ policies, systems, and culture?
The past two years have seen a massive reawakening to the presence, characteristics, and expression of persistent structural and individual racism and racist violence in the United States. More than 150 years after Reconstruction following the Civil War, the true impact of this persistent racism is visible in all aspects of our lives and economy. At every level— individual, community, organization, and society—we must work to change this.
The United States is also, as the world’s largest economy, the largest contributor to overseas development assistance both bilaterally and multilaterally. Our organizations represent a broad community that has developed over the past 50 years to implement the soft power objectives of the United States’ bilateral and multilateral relations and to share the goodwill of the American people. It is both our responsibility and our obligation to embrace and embark on this journey. We must start with what is within the span of our control (i.e., policies, systems, and the culture within our organizations) and help lead our industry. Positive change from within will transform the sector and have global impact.
Why doesn’t this pledge address programming?
Although many of our members implement both United States and international work, we believe that starting with how we lead, manage, and staff our organizations is fundamental to addressing equity and inclusion in how we design, program, and implement our work as well as transform our sector.
How we implement our work in countries is contingent on a complex mix of factors that we need to be clear-eyed about, including considering how our ethnocentric organizational policies, systems, practices, and behaviors may contribute to low levels of racial and ethnic diversity and equity in our industry. By advancing equity and inclusion in our administration, operations, staff composition, and culture, we will be better equipped to ensure diversity of background and thought, and ultimately design and implement more impactful, equitable, and inclusive programs worldwide. Before we can influence improved programming, we need to get our own house in order.
Why is the pledge only focused on the United States-based offices? How does this pledge apply to non-United States or country offices?
We believe that we should start with our United States based offices since that is where the power currently lies. Many of our organizations are already implementing efforts to do better in their work and country offices, but how diversity initiatives play out in South Africa, Sri Lanka, or Guatemala, for example, requires engagement with related issues in those places, and the application of global metrics must go through a process of adaptation.
We should be aware that many of the DEI and REE terms and classifications that we use in the United States are developed for enumeration in the United States census, which evolved, and will continue to evolve, over time, and cannot be applied to other societies. We do not wish to share our distortions with the world, but we can share our commitment to the principles, processes, and practices of DEI.
Accordingly, CREED values prioritizing and focusing on REE in our United States based offices to build equity and inclusion as a first step to building organizational DEI and REE.
What is outside the scope of the pledge?
CREED offers recommendations and does not dictate to Pledge signatories which REE-specific actions and measurements to adopt or adapt. Although CREED does not provide implementation resources, CREED surfaces and shares best practices through the CREED Learning Hub. Operational, program, or technical guidance/operating procedures and partnering/vendor/supply chain approaches are best done internally, with grounding in best and promising practices that CREED will help to share.
The pledge is provided as a framework and can be customized according to the size of the organization (by revenue, people count, or country presence, for example) to visualize, implement and maximize pathways or solutions by organizations themselves.
What is the cost of operationalizing the REE pledge?
CREED believes that this commitment will be business critical to organizations in our sector going forward and be resourced at a level deemed appropriate by each organization’s leadership.
We have no doubt that the return on investment in DEI and REE is tangible and substantial, and part of our learning going forward will be to find the best ways to document and share these methods.
What is the best way to start working on implementing the pledge?
Organizations can start by signing the REE pledge, joining the learning community (CREED Learning Hub), and then determining their own process to build REE internally. Openness and participation are good ways to start our collective journey. The pledge provides a framework and examples as well as measures that organizations can choose to adopt that suit their organization. Internal conversations about REE and organizational culture relative to the CREED commitments can help you understand where to begin.
Will CREED share an implementation guide or a toolkit? Will CREED share the names of experts who can be retained to provide REE-related services?
The pledge is intended to be a commitment to action over time. Organizations are not expected to have implemented all of the pledge components/actions at the time of signing. Signing the pledge is a commitment to the REE goals and to work toward achieving the standards set forth in the pledge. Our shared goal is for pledge participant organizations to be part of a learning community (CREED Learning Hub) where implementation strategies, lessons, and guidance developed and implemented by organizations are shared with the REE pledge community.
Will CREED provide minimum standards or specific metrics to build REE? How do we hold ourselves accountable?
Good practices for metrics and holding ourselves accountable will be shared through the CREED Learning Hub. A good place to start is with the BRIDGE survey.
The pledge components do not include specific measurements or minimum standards. Instead, each pledge component includes a set of illustrative indicators that organizations can emulate to operationalize the pledge. Our goal is for organizations of many sizes, types, and missions to be able to determine how best to proceed in achieving the pledge commitment with the context of their own organization. We expect that the signatories will monitor progress within their own organizations against the commitment made and in keeping with their established metrics.
CREED, through the Learning Hub, will invite and share success stories that demonstrate measurable progress and quantitative results.
How will the Learning Hub and Learning Community work?
CREED will also serve as a forum and platform to exchange information, discuss emerging topics, and interact.
At its most fundamental level, this will involve sharing information, including best and promising practices for organizations. The CREED community will gather in-person (we can dream) or virtually to share experiences and lessons. CREED may also interact with clients, partners and other stakeholders and channel relevant information and good practices for REE. Our goal is not to duplicate work being done by any existing organizations but rather to complement and provide opportunities to access useful resources.
The pledge components have been framed in the context of having a standard, roadmap, application, values, outcomes and measures? How are these elements defined?
The description of what each element covers in the components framework is as follows