September 8, 2017
This article originally appeared on AIDS United.
Many HIV-focused organizations are struggling with diversity in leadership, where the leadership is primarily white, or male, or straight, or otherwise homogeneous.
And the impact of this challenge is real. Our organizations aren’t as effective at serving those most impacted by HIV — queer and trans people of color — when people from those communities aren’t in leadership roles. The problem is not that there aren’t qualified applicants (a study just came out debunking that myth). It’s that our organizations (and the leaders in those organizations) aren’t doing everything we can to notice how our culture makes it difficult for people who are marginalized to thrive, and make changes to the culture to be more inclusive.
It’s time to change the culture of our organizations, and embrace a culture that fully supports those most affected by the epidemic to thrive and do brilliant work. That’s not a shift that can happen overnight — funders have specific requirements, and we can’t just fire everyone who is currently in a leadership role who isn’t from the most affected communities. But there are things we can do now to make our organizations more inclusive, and ultimately more effective.