The University of Minnesota Foundation is boldly moving forward to create a courageously inclusive environment where everyone experiences a welcoming culture and a sense of belonging. To achieve this goal, we commit to removing barriers to full participation for our stakeholders with an intentional focus on individuals from historically excluded and underrepresented communities (See UMF's Statement on Pronouns). We will be clear about our responsibilities, as stewards of great philanthropic assets, to reveal bias, call others to the table, and create a more just and inclusive space for making positive change through the University of Minnesota.
To move forward, we acknowledge what was and what is.
- We acknowledge that great social harm has occurred due to the exclusion of communities based on race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and sexual orientation, among other characteristics.
- We acknowledge that, even with altruistic intent, philanthropy has created inequitable and biased social systems; systems where wealth and status are advantaged often to the exclusion of those with fewer resources.
- We acknowledge that, as an organization made up of imperfect individuals, we will always be learning how to listen honestly to the experiences of others while identifying and attempting to reduce the impact of our own unconscious biases.
- We acknowledge that this work is only just beginning, and will require dedicated organizational attention to reveal and remove long-held and unexamined bias.
We are accountable to each other and the communities we serve and we hold ourselves responsible for our actions, decisions, and results. These commitments are the core values of UMF’s understanding and approach to the creation of an inclusive environment. The work of creating an inclusive community inspires us to take these steps:
- To act with integrity and call each other in with the courage to question actions that are inconsistent with our values.
- To continuously and proactively challenge and respond to bias and discrimination.
- To seek and elevate diverse perspectives, using them to inform and prioritize our initiatives, in the interest of delivering powerful results.
UMF will create a culture of inclusivity by measuring our impact and holding ourselves accountable. We will collaborate and work across disciplines with our colleagues to advance our DEI roadmap in specific ways, including how best to advance our talent, our culture, our connection to the greater University and communities we impact, and our donors. Through our work, we will inspire the generosity of the philanthropic community to further the goal of ensuring the University of Minnesota is a community where people feel heard, experience inclusivity, and see themselves in our work.
Why Words Matter
The words we use are influential, and open to individual meaning and interpretation. For this reason, a shared understanding of the language we use is important to our collective effort as we do this work. We offer the definitions, adapted from the Gopher Equity Project, of diversity, equality, equity, and inclusion to add clarity to the conversation and to better gauge progress on our commitments, with our greatest aspirations in sight.
Definitions: We offer these definition as a starting point, and you will find definitions for many DEI&J words by going to the Glossary of Terms on the Gopher Equity Project website: https://gopherequityproject.umn.edu/
Diversity is the infinite variety that exists from one unique person to another. This variety includes traits such as race, sex/gender, gender identity, color, ability, age, and sexual orientation. Diversity also accounts for an array of characteristics in appearance, body size, culture, national origin, education, religion and economic background, all of which informs who we are and how we think.
Equality means sameness, so treating people equally means treating everyone the same.
Equity requires a recognition of difference: different histories and experiences, different worldviews and political leanings, different resources, abilities, and goals. Therefore, any effort at true inclusion and justice must necessarily focus on outcomes and opportunities, based on the assumption that everyone starts in a different place. We seek out and share our differences honestly in order to effectively highlight and eliminate barriers to full participation.
Inclusion creates a welcoming environment where nobody lacks equitable access to power, decision-making, opportunities, benefits and services. UMF values and supports every individual identity.