Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Not Just Words

Across our nation, the past several years have tested our society’s best traditions on many levels; and these past months have especially underscored the need for a fundamental reckoning where racial justice is concerned.

Our work at NFF is inherently implicated in many of the systems that have advanced and perpetuated persistent racial inequality in connection with the nation’s traditional systems of banking, philanthropy, and social investment.

In recognition of these hard realities and with a heartfelt intention to address them meaningfully, we have recently undertaken the hard work of resetting our sights and our essential way of doing business.

Over the past five years, we have recomposed our board of directors from a largely white representation of conventional finance, law, and accounting professionals to one that presently consists of two-thirds people of color and a much broader complement of community-centered investment practitioners, change agents, and thought leaders.

We have also amplified the representation of talented professionals of color on our staff and management team, and begun to undertake conscious efforts to transform our base of community partners to better reflect the nation’s racial diversity and persistent pockets of need and opportunity that have been too-long overlooked by large financial institutions.

In addition, we have begun to rethink our modus operandi as being geared more to building the leadership, reputation, and assets of our partners in communities, rather than merely our own.

None of this is to say by any means that our work is done or above reproach. Indeed, our work in racial equity has only really just begun. By our own measure, we still have a long way to go. Our journey over recent years has shown us that this work is hard and often doesn’t have clear victories. It is fraught with stops and starts. And it never really ends.

So, with humility and redoubled resolve, we have undertaken a new strategic course and allied commitments (see below) that will further advance our internal and external work to address ongoing racial inequities over the next five years, starting with accountable and visible targets across our organization for 2021.

While none of these things alone will suffice to address the needs our nation and field are facing in this critical passage, they will establish a much higher bar for our work and hopefully exemplify what is possible when real intentionality and commitment are directed to the issues.

We understand that it is not what we say, but rather tangible actions and improvements, that will finally establish our standing and credibility on the question of racial equity. We commit to doing everything we can to forge a better path forward in practical service to the common good, and our evolving complement of multicultural partners across the nation.     

Henry A. J. Ramos                               Antony Bugg-Levine
Board Chair                                          CEO


As the next step in this journey, in 2021 we will:

  • expand our lending and partnerships involving communities and organizations led by people of color (target: 50 percent of all loans, consulting work, and grants in 2021);
  • increase the racial diversity of NFF’s team and leadership to better reflect the clients we serve (Target: people of color are half of all staff and senior staff by end of 2021);
  • bolster our contracting and procurement involving vendors and consultants of color by applying a racial equity framework to assess all vendor relationships (toward a 2025 target that 60 percent of NFF’s suppliers/contractors are led by people of color).