Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Hirsch Philanthropy Partners was founded in 1999 on the belief that ‘leveling the playing field’ is central to long-term, transformational change. The term that best describes this belief today is equity.
Also read this personal letter from Founder and CEO, Susan Hirsch, about our commitment to equity.
We define equity as fair, just, and active inclusion that allows people of all identities to thrive and feel a sense of belonging, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, or other characteristic that makes each person whole and unique. Hirsch is committed to advancing equity for all by providing access to the resources, relationships, and opportunities necessary to reach one’s full potential. We firmly stand against all forms of hate and strive to embody anti-racist values with an understanding that historical wrongs can impact individuals over generations in both overt and nuanced ways.
In more than two decades of philanthropic advising, our work has addressed complex issues like democracy, health, education, climate change, and arts and culture. To advance equity on these issues and fair outcomes for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, we must overcome intersecting unjust systems and beliefs like racism, white supremacy, patriarchy, extractive economies, and more.
Advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) is essential for society, and particularly important for philanthropy, because in many instances the creation and dissemination of philanthropic wealth has contributed to deeper economic and racial inequities. The philanthropy sector can and must improve to ensure that philanthropic resources are leveraged to promote equity and address the power imbalance between those who control funding and the leaders working tirelessly to create change.
In our experience, we have found that the most transformative solutions arise when we open doors for philanthropists and community organizations to form authentic, enduring, and trust-based partnerships. Our collaborative approach has created incredible impact over the years and fuels our optimism that a more just future is possible.
In 1999, Hirsch Philanthropy Partners set out with a vision to advance equity through high-impact collaborations with philanthropists and community organizations to address both the symptoms and root causes of complex problems. To execute this vision, we brought together individuals with a wide range of unconventional and valuable experience to lead our philanthropic services; it is important to recognize where we started and acknowledge that our small founding team was mostly white women.
Committed to the benefits of greater racial and ethnic diversity for our culture and our mission, we were determined that as we grew our team, it would reflect the rich identities and lived experiences of the San Francisco Bay Area and society at large. Today, we are proud that over 50% of our staff identify as people of color and we continue to promote diversity throughout the firm.
One of the many benefits of our staff diversity has been the formation of intentional spaces to explore historical and contemporary racial equity issues, including book clubs, identity-based affinity groups, and cultural celebrations. These opportunities for personal and collective growth in a supportive environment have brought our team closer together, increased our understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and lived experiences, and enriched our community-centered work.
In 2020, we were outraged by the senseless and brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many more Black lives that have been and continue to be unjustly taken. We rise in solidarity and unequivocally support the resulting uprising and critical reckoning about our country’s centuries-long legacy of systemic racism, brutalization, and oppression of Black people.
The national racial reckoning was a catalyst that spurred deep and important conversations at Hirsch about the intersection of racial justice and philanthropy: How do we show up more for racial justice and grapple further with our country’s racist past and present? How can we build towards a just and anti-racist future? What role can philanthropy play in realizing a more equitable world?
In partnership with philanthropists, we responded by recommending the expansion or creation of racial justice portfolios to swiftly get more money out the door to trusted leaders and organizations across the U.S. We listened to and followed the lead of racial justice partners about how funders and the larger philanthropic sector can better support racial equity efforts now and in the long-term. Our team committed that we would not simply ‘move on’ once media coverage of the movement for racial justice dwindled; racial equity would remain central to our thinking and actions, along with our principles of humility and continual learning.
Internally at Hirsch, that pivotal time propelled us deeper into our EDI work. As many companies responded to the racial unrest by immediately drafting public EDI statements, we chose an introspective approach to explore what our firm was doing well and our areas for improvement and growth. The EDI statement you are reading now — which our staff collaborated on and contributed feedback to — is a public acknowledgment of our ongoing EDI journey and our desire to be an accountable partner to our team and our community.
In the process of developing this EDI statement, we recognized that we also had an opportunity to more effectively convey how equity is ingrained in the purpose of our firm. We invite you to read our revised mission statement and values.
Our Equity Roadmap
In 2020, proactive staff advocacy to increase our investment in EDI led to a partnership with The Justice Collective, a consulting firm that brings a racial equity lens to organizational development. Together, we gathered anonymous staff feedback on employee experiences and developed a learning curriculum for skills- and knowledge-based EDI trainings. We also established an EDI Committee to lead the strategy and oversight of our firm’s first equity roadmap focused on four key growth areas:
- Client Services — offer equity-centered services and strategies for philanthropists to support their EDI goals and journeys; prioritize racial equity in our relationships with community partners and clients; and draft a public EDI statement for the firm.
- Leadership — provide equity-centered coaching for the Hirsch leadership team; improve processes that support a positive feedback culture; and diversify the senior management team.
- Culture — continue to promote a workplace environment where every team member feels seen, heard, and valued; develop and implement a team building and learning EDI curriculum; and deepen a healthy and respectful feedback culture.
- Human Resources — attract and retain talent that represents a diversity of identities and lived experiences; implement an improved performance management system that helps all employees thrive; regularly review and update our HR policies with an equity lens; and create a more transparent and equitable allocation of professional development resources.
Our living and evolving equity roadmap serves as a North Star for Hirsch Philanthropy Partners, guiding how we show up for ourselves, each other, philanthropists, and our community partners. This work is hard, and we expect to make mistakes that we will learn from along the way. It is our goal to continue moving our EDI work forward by remaining proactive, intentional, curious, and receptive to feedback from our community.