Report-Back: Philanthropy Network Conference

“Toward a More Perfect Union: Strengthening the Sector Together”

Liz Sytsma, Associate Director


Philanthropy Network

At CultureWorks, I spend a lot of time thinking about our staff. The folks we have around the table and those 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 our work at the core is about human interaction, empathy, and flourishing, thoughtfully building our staff is more important than anything.

I am a white woman that has experienced a life time 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 that are facing the way we all get our work done, together.

During a panel discussion about equity the moderator, Meg Long from Equal Measure, highlighted the destructive hiring practices that we’ve inherited . I realized that I am surely guilty of perpetuating some of these practices that, related to the biases I carry along with me, are keeping us from attracting and considering talent that has 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, eliminating applicants for language and communication style differences or those without a traditional education, to name a few.

As our team looks onward to a national CultureWorks presence, we will more than consider the way the system we have inherited is limiting our ability to do what we’ve set out to do, we will change that system.


Elizabeth Sytsma