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Interview: Hamlin Grange on the Need for Inclusion and Diversity in Nonprofits

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We’re happy to welcome back guest author Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising for a new series here on the ImpactFlow blog. In support of her upcoming Next Level Fundraising Conference, we have partnered with Mazarine for a series of posts featuring helpful insights and advice from top nonprofit professionals. 

In today’s post, Mazarine sits down with Hamlin Grange, founder of DiversiPro, to talk about the challenges facing organizations, and the need for inclusion and diversity in nonprofits. 

MT: This is Mazarine Treyz of Wild Woman Fundraising, and today I am so pleased to share with you Mr. Hamlin Grange, the founder of DiversiPro. He will be speaking at our Next Level Conference. So really excited to just share with you what he’s going to be teaching, and why it’s going to be really interesting for you. So Mr. Hamlin Grange, who are you and what do you do?Hamlin-Grange

HG: Well, you got my name right. My name is Hamlin, Hamlin Grange. I’m a diversity and inclusion strategist. That’s the best way to describe myself. I work with organizations and individuals to develop and execute diversity and inclusion plans within organizations. I do quite a lot of work around intercultural development, because I firmly believe that in order to achieve diversity and inclusion goals within organizations, a level of intercultural competence must exist. So the higher level of intercultural competence, meaning your level of awareness of yourself and others, the greater your ability to actually achieve your diversity and inclusion goals. So I work with individuals and teams and managers, senior leaders within an organization.

MT: I love that. And so what work do you find most fulfilling with your consulting?

HG: Well, it’s really funny, because someone once asked me some years ago, when I started my company 15 years ago. What are you selling? And I sort of pulled back a little bit. What do you mean what am I selling? He said, “Well, are you selling aspirins? Are you selling vitamins?” And it was a really good question. At the end of the day, what I really want to sell, I want to sell individuals and organizations vitamins. Because vitamins help you to live healthy lives. It’s more the kind of work that I do, I hope is preventative. Sure, I can sell the odd aspirin to get rid of a headache. But it’s only a very temporary solution. So the most fulfilling part of what I do is to see the light going on within an individual, when it clicks. When within organizations’ routines, they really click and say, yes, aha. Those aha moments, you know. That’s what I find fulfilling in the work that I do, and it’s really remarkable to see that happen from time to time. So I’ve been very blessed, to be frank about it, working with the people that I do and the organizations that are my clients.

MT: Well, that’s interesting. So what you’re offering is not necessarily an aspirin to kind of gently put a band-aid on a problem, but actually helping make communities stronger in terms of their diversity with the vitamins.

HG: Yeah, absolutely. Because you know, we can deal with so many things around dealing with the issue right then and there, and we can look for those quick solutions that give temporary relief. Whether it’s hiring two people or three people or whatever the number you want to pick, or go in and deal with a toxic environment. But unless you’re doing ongoing sustainable change within the organization, those problems are going to come back. So that’s where the vitamin pills come in, I think. It’s changing lifestyle, changing the way you do things. It’s really a more thoughtful and intentional approach as opposed to a quick fix approach. So those are the kind of things I like to see organizations and teams think about when they think about diversity and inclusion. Especially dealing with the fundraising sector. You really do need to have a long term view and not just a short term kind of approach to the situation.

MT: Wow, I love that. I think that’s something we forget at our peril. So that reminds me, what are you teaching at the Next Level Conference in 2016?

HG: Well, we’re going to be talking about the importance of intercultural development and intercultural competence within the fundraising sector. Not just within the fundraising sector, but in just all organizations. Because as I said earlier, in order to reach your diversity and inclusion goals, research shows that the more interculturally competent you become, the higher your chances of achieving and maintaining, sustaining those diversity and inclusion goals. So intercultural competence is not about knowing every single thing about every single culture. Because quite frankly, I don’t think anybody is that good. And if they are, kudos. I don’t think anyone is that good. However, I think we can all develop this ability to become much more adept at navigating cultural differences, and that’s what I’m going to be talking about.

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MT: Wow. So on your website, I noticed that you have a thing called IDI that you teach about. It stands for intercultural development inventory. What does that mean?

HG: Right, well, the intercultural development inventory is a tool that was developed some years ago by Dr. Mitch Hammer out of the United States. The IDI is really an assessment tool that measures the level of intercultural sensitivity, sensitivity towards cultural groups, cultural awareness, and how you’re actually navigating. Each of us have a different way. We have a different orientation, and that orientation is quite frankly dependent upon the degree to which you’ve been exposed to different cultures or cultural differences or cultural commonalities.

Whether it’s where you were born, how you were raised, all of those things. But the tool, it’s 50 questions. It’s an online instrument that you actually go on and you answer these questions. You get a profile, and out of the profile, you get where you are in the continuum. Then you also get a plan that goes with that. So the IDI is quite a powerful tool. It’s been used increasingly by large corporations around the world, and it’s been quite successful. I’ve seen amazing changes that have taken place within individuals and teams that go through the IDI process, for not just an assessment but as a developmental approach, learning and developing and moving along the continuum to the point where people are actually going to that place of adaptation, which is really the goal for cultural development. That’s one of the orientations.

MT: So my next question was going to be how does it help people? But it sounds like how it helps people, you’ve already kind of said.

HG: Yeah. It’s a developmental tool. It’s not just about giving you a score. It’s really about identifying where you are in the continuum, from what they call more of a monocultural mindset, where sometimes people are looking at cultural differences based on one’s own cultural values and practices, to what we call intercultural or global mindset where you know what to do about it as opposed to just observing it. So where you’re making sense of cultural differences based on one’s own culture, as well as other culture’s values and practices. So it’s a much more sophisticated and complex view of cultural differences as opposed to a less complex view of cultural differences.

MT: I love that. A lot of people might just think, you know, oh well. I’m very accepting of cultural differences. I just am. Then you ask them for examples, and really they can’t give you any. So I love that you demystify that.

HG: In a way, and I think sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves when we’re encountering cultural differences. Rather than approaching it, and quite frankly leaning into those cultural differences, we kind of pull back a bit because there’s fear, apprehension. You don’t want to say or do the wrong thing. But I think that too is also a reflection of the orientation. So the orientation along the IDI continuum with intercultural development continuum is it goes from denial, where you’re seeing the more observable aspects of cultural differences. If you think of culture as an iceberg, so you’re seeing just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the more observable aspects of culture. Food, dress, those kind of things, right? Then you move into the next orientation, which is polarization, when you’re looking through the lens of us versus them. A very judgmental kind of stance towards cultural differences.

Often times, it’s a negative judgment kind of stance that we take, and there’s various degrees of polarization that are quite evident when someone could be in that orientation of polarization. Then there’s a transition orientation called minimization where you’re actually minimizing differences. Where differences are in fact ignored, and depending on who you are and where you are within a culture, whether you’re in a dominant environment or the non-dominant part of the culture, you may actually minimize your own differences to go along, to get along. So in minimization, you look for those commonalities. We’re all human beings, or let’s all gather around and let’s be all the same after all. So we look for sameness, as opposed to looking at those differences. Then you move into acceptance, which is where you actually begin to recognize those differences. You recognize that there are differences, and you value those differences. You’ll start to become much more curious about those differences.

Then finally adaptation, where you actually know what to do about those differences now, right? You actually have changed your perspective and adapt behaviors appropriately when you are encountering those cultural differences. That’s a continuum that we can all fall upon, right? And we can be at different points of that continuum, but it’s developmental. If you’re in minimization, your goal is to develop to become acceptance. There are tools and things you can do and exercises or activities that I certainly would suggest. A plan would be developed for you as a result of that assessment. That will just help you move along that continuum. So it’s very much a developmental kind of approach as opposed to just giving somebody a score and then people somewhat feel that they’ve either passed or failed. Because there is no passing or failing here. It’s really about where you are at right now, and what can you do in order to move forward.

MT: So my next question was going to be the stages of intercultural competence. But you’ve already answered that. Polarization, minimization, acceptance, and adaptation. That’s wonderful.

HG: That’s right, and denial, which is at the lower end. The denial orientation.

MT: Thank you. I wrote them down and I forgot that one. Denial. Oh, yeah, I’m fine. Everything’s fine. No, it’s not, right? So I mean, because we now know a little bit more about this, and knowing that we’re going to talk about this a lot more in your presentation. Why is it so important for nonprofit leadership to become more interculturally competent?

HG: Well, I think it is the most important aspect of engaging with difference. Especially when you start talking about cultural differences. Because we know a nonprofit organization, whether it’s social services or fundraising, increasingly they’re dealing with a much more diverse clientele. You’re dealing with difference, and it is not just enough anymore, I think, to simply hire a few people who are different. It’s not enough anymore just to try to have systems in place so they’re included. It’s also vitally important now to be able to shift perspective and change behavior when you are engaging with difference, whether it’s the people who work for you or the people you’re engaging with, out into the community. Whether it’s potential donors or recipients of funding. So intercultural competence has been identified by recent research that was done back in 2011 as one of the crucial skills that will be needed in the next century or in the next decade or so, in order for us to be much more productive in society. Intercultural competence is absolutely vital, and that’s why it’s important. It’s important for leaders to have this especially, and clearly support for frontline workers who really are on the frontline, face to face with the clients and prospects and prospective donors. For them to be more interculturally competent. So that’s why it’s important.

MT: Yeah, I totally agree with you. I feel like for donors, our donors are changing. The faces of our constituents is changing, and in general all of our world is changing to be more diverse than maybe some leaders realize. So it’s important to keep up with that and be more inclusive and adapt your behaviors to fit with what is culturally appropriate for the different people that you’re going to be around.

'True change begins within. We’re so quick to want to change others, but we never truly understand ourselves.' Click To Tweet

HG: That’s right. That’s right. And I think even more important than that, and maybe equally as important to understand others is understanding self. I think so much of the work that I do is about understanding self. Because truly I believe true change begins within. It begins with us, and we’re so quick to want to change others, but we never truly, truly understand ourselves. Intercultural competence and the IDI, the intercultural development inventory, allows that self awareness to begin. That self reflection that is so absolutely vital for us to move along the continuum, and to also learn to better navigate cultural difference. In a way, that’s what I hope people will learn. They will learn from my session the importance of intercultural competence, what it is, what it is not, and what they can do about it. So I would certainly encourage folks to consider doing an assessment of some sort, whether it’s the IDI or some other instrument that measures the level of cultural competence. Although I firmly believe the IDI is the gold standard, to be frank about it. It is the thing that more and more organizations are using, and it’s been validated. It has strong validity, both research as well as an on the ground application. So that’s what I hope people will learn from my session.

MT: I love that. I mean, what you’re really saying for fundraising and for helping take our nonprofits to the next level is if you do want this, we’re living in a global world now and you need to be able and available for these new donors, these new supporters, these new companies. Not just hire one person that you’re like, great, this person is going to take care of that because they look a certain way or they come from this background. But everybody needs to understand how this works and why it’s important. That’s what I’m hearing you say.

HG: Yeah, absolutely. I think in terms of intercultural competence, it’s about personal and professional growth. It really is. I think the more interculturally competent each of us becomes, I think what you’ll see is that that relationship, those interactions with others who are different from us, regardless of who you are. That relationship with organizations that are outside your organization. Because it’s about navigating cultural differences, and there are cultural differences from organization to organization as well as national and linguistic differences, you see? So culture is not just about the typical way of thinking of culture, which is national cultures, right? It’s also about organizational culture. And if you can become more aware of how you are navigating differences, you become that much more effective in terms of relating with others who are from different countries, different linguistic backgrounds, but also from different organizations as well. So that’s the promise of intercultural development.

MT: I love that. So you’ve kind of told us what people are going to learn when they come to your session. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

HG: Well, no. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to present intercultural development concepts and the IDI to your audience. The work I’ve done with the fundraising community and the fundraising sector indicates to me that part of the challenge is, when people say the struggle, the struggle to connect with minority communities and all that. The more I come to that conclusion that really what I’m hearing is that you’re not as interculturally competent as you could be. You’re not navigating those differences as well as you could be. So let me help you do that. So that’s where I think the future lies, as opposed to just finding ten things in how to reach the Somali community, or ten things on how to tap into the Jewish community, or ten things of how to tap into that community. Maybe we should start tapping into ourselves. Let’s find out how are we personally navigating cultural differences, and what is it I need to do in order to change that discourse? To change that narrative in terms of how I’m engaging with differences. I think if people can do that, I think they’ll find that the work that they do is so much more rewarding because they’re developing. They’re growing and they’re learning as an individual. So those are the kind of things I think that we look forward to in terms of intercultural development.

MT: Wow, I love that. I love that. Thank you so much. This has been incredible. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m really, really grateful to you for teaching me, and I hope that people can learn even more at your session in April. So thank you.

HG: Thank you. I really appreciate it. I think what you’re doing is wonderful. It’s great. Thank you.

Hear more from Hamlin at the Next Level Fundraising Conference on April 4-5, 2016. He will be presenting along with Molly Ola Pinney, Linda Lysakowski, and many other nonprofit experts. Learn more about the conference and register here

Ashley MacQuarrie

Ashley is a community builder and storyteller. She grew up in sunny southern California before making the move to Portland. She was looking for an opportunity to use her skills to make a positive impact, and found that and more at ImpactFlow. She loves telling the story of ImpactFlow and the people that are making the world a better place. When not glued to a screen, she can often be found outdoors, enjoying all the Northwest has to offer.

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