Q&A: LaCheka Phillips Gives the Scoop on TechSoup's Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month

This past month, TechSoup launched its inaugural Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month. Led by NGOsource's own program manager, LaCheka Phillips, the month was designed with the following three aims in mind:

  1. Augment and advance the TechSoup team's understanding and awareness of the profound power in and importance of diversity and inclusion
  2. Celebrate the diversity of TechSoup and the TechSoup Global Network across the globe
  3. Provide team members a chance to reflect on how they can further their inclusive practices as individuals and how we can do so as an entire organization

Now that Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month has wrapped, LaCheka reflects on the month's highlights and takeaways. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Can you provide an overview of what Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month is and the thinking that went behind it?

Months ago, I learned that October is recognized as Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month. What better way to highlight, promote, and celebrate the diversity of people, brains, and talent as well as inclusive practices that are pervasive and promoted at TechSoup?

We also used this month an opportunity to highlight the many diverse groups that exist both within our organization and outside of it. For example, many people had never heard of neurodiversity, the idea that neurological differences should be celebrated. So, the internal Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month team created the opportunity to advance their understanding of neurodiversity and hear from a staff member who shared their experience as a neurodiverse individual.

Overall, the goal of Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month was for everyone to know that in our space, you are safe, valued, and appreciated because of your individuality. I felt it was important and the right time to celebrate our differences in a cultural climate where our differences often tend to drive us apart.

Q: Can you share some highlights from the month?

People want to know that they are being sensitive to and mindful of others, and this tends to require illumination about what others experience. Many TechSoupers have expressed that while these conversations can be challenging and uncomfortable, they have gained so much insight and want to continue to have these conversations.

TechSoupers learn about and celebrate Diwali as part of Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month

Q: What are some ways you'd like to expand upon Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month moving forward?

We wrapped up the monthly celebration with a town hall meeting, where employees were able to express how they felt about the month's celebrations and what impact it had on them both inside and outside of TechSoup. As I mentioned, awareness can require education and training, so we will use that information to build out our professional development for the upcoming year.

We also used Global Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month as a springboard in planning additional programming, events, and discussions to stoke and sustain the conversation. There is always room to grow, for everyone, everywhere. TechSoup has a very strong foundation, and we are excited to build upon that and further increase our inclusivity and diversity.

Q: What could other nonprofits learn from TechSoup's story?

Most organizations are already engaging in practices that fall under the umbrella of global diversity and inclusion — they may just not package it under that title. That's completely okay! Every organization does not have to have a standing global diversity and inclusion awareness committee like TechSoup. It is, however, important that the organization is inclusive to all, period. Diversity will strengthen and deepen an organization's impact. The data is clear on the power of diversity in driving both for-profit and civil society outcomes. People need to feel that they belong, and this is a great first step in that direction.