Photo Courtesy of Downshire School
Report-Back: Philanthropy Network Conference
Liz Sytsma

At CultureWorks, I spend a lot of time thinking about our staff. The folks we have around the table and those perspectives that are missing. We are in the midst of what may come to be significant growth here in Philadelphia and nationally for CultureWorks. Given that human interaction, empathy, and flourishing for all is at the center of our work, thoughtfully building our staff is more important than anything.

I am a white woman that has experienced a lifetime of educational, economic, employment, and security (to name a few) privilege. My privilege and socialization over the past 35 years has informed the racial, gender, age, ability, economic, education, and geographic biases that I both consciously and unconsciously carry with me in my daily interactions and decisions.

Last month, I represented CultureWorks at the
Philanthropy Network conference. This is a conference that brings together funders and organizations to talk about issues facing the way we all get our work done.

During a panel discussion about equity, the moderator, Meg Long from
Equal Measure, highlighted the destructive hiring practices that we as a sector have inherited . I realized that I am guilty of some of these practices that are keeping us from attracting and considering talent with the potential to truly make CultureWorks better. Better at fulfilling our mission, generating revenue, and providing a meaningful opportunity for individuals to grow professionally and personally. Practices such as not listing salary ranges, asking for compensation history, including the box, not using gender neutral language, and eliminating applicants for language and communication style differences or those without a traditional education are just a few of the ways that we have kept our staff from being more inclusive.

As our team looks onward to a national CultureWorks presence, we will do more than just consider the way the system we inherited is keeping us from doing what we’ve set out to do, we will change that system.