Fifteen years ago, no one had an iPhone, politicians didn’t tweet their thoughts, and high school students worried about what they would wear to school, not whether they would survive the day. In some ways, the world is changing faster than ever. We can order almost anything on demand. We make payments with our smart phones and watches. A single tweet can start a revolution.
Yet, in so many other ways, the world is not changing fast enough. As a country, we still don’t value public educators or public education appropriately. Women are still fighting off invasions of personal space – from bosses to doctors to legislators.
Too many people still don’t acknowledge that our society functions best when guaranteed rights are balanced with individual restraint. Yes, you have the right to free speech. No, you should not tweet stupid things.
And, advances in technology like social media, ubiquitous cameras, and robust data analytics, have exposed some ugly truths about race in America.
Many people have had enough. Time’s Up. #MeToo. Boycott this. Boycott that. March for Our Lives. People are holding our leaders accountable for their actions.
Corporations and businesses are changing out leadership and redefining corporate social responsibility. Each year, the CEOs of the Fortune 500 look more diverse. Consumers are boycotting corporate bad behavior ranging from sexual harassment to pollution to racism. Starbucks closed its stores for a company-wide racial bias training. Uber, Facebook, and Wells Fargo are all currently running apology ad campaigns.
Beyond protests and hashtags, people are voting. Matched with more options than ever before on the ballot, voters are transforming government. As one-term governor Pat McCrory noted, more of our elected officials are black. Uncomfortably so for him. Comfortably so for many of us. There are also more women and millennials holding office than ever before. I’m guessing that also feels unusual. I’m hoping in a few more years, it will feel familiar. Pat McCrory and those who share his thinking missed the point – it’s not about race, gender or age. It’s about perspective.
It’s critical that we don’t leave our nonprofits behind. Organizations like chambers of commerce, community foundations, business development districts, and professional associations help shape public policy, and we cannot afford for them to stagnate in dated models of operations or vintage social constructs. Nonprofits small and large are known for their cautious approach to change and reliance on individual visionaries to lead that change. They are more insulated from public sentiment, buoyed by private foundations and accommodating standards for charitable organizations.
When it comes to nonprofits, the community relies on board members to represent our interests. We need board members to start asking critical (and probably difficult) questions. Are the current leaders of your organization still the right leaders for where Charlotte is headed? If not, can they get there? Do you have an updated strategic plan? Do you have human resources policies that create safe and healthy work environments for your employees? Do you set aside resources for professional development? We need to consider these questions before our nonprofits are also held accountable, or worse, abandoned for newer nonprofits that “get it.”
For those who will inevitably read this and feel wounded: This isn’t about you.
It’s about us – the rest of us.