Rethinking Stakeholder AnalysesOctober 15, 2009 Leave a comment
Earlier this week, I had the great fortune of hearing Rinku Sen (Applied Research Center), Ellen Gurzinsky (Funders for LGBTQ Issues) and Lori Villarosa (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity) present on “Catalyzing Change and Deepening Racial Justice Impacts” at the Neighborhood Funders Group Annual Conference in New Orleans. It was an exciting session in which they talked about the current racial context in the US and ideas about how grantmaking can be done with a racial justice lens – including real stories about work some specific foundations and groups of foundations are doing. I’ll likely be sharing more over my next few blog posts about grantmaking with a racial justice lens, but wanted to start with some reflections about group processes that came up for me based on their presentation.
As a non-funder, I was listening with an ear toward things that might be applicable to group process as well. Rinku talked about the difference between using a diversity approach and using a racial equity approach to grantmaking, which started me thinking about the difference between these two approaches in stakeholder analyses of multi-stakeholder processes. A diversity approach, as she described it, would be one in which what matters is what the group of people assembled “looks” like – if there are representatives from all the groups affected, etc. – while a racial equity approach might lead one to assemble an entirely different group.
A few years ago, I examined the literature from the group facilitation “field” to examine how power differences are or are not addressed through group facilitation techniques and wrote a masters thesis on related research. One of the underlying assumptions I found in group facilitation literature was that many processes for doing stakeholder analyses talk about being sure there are representatives of all groups affected in the room – a representative approach, which assumes that representation translates into having voice. At the same time, I was reading intriguing literature from Archon Fung, who studied community organizing in Chicago and found that unless people from marginalized groups had enough representation (sometimes over half), they were less likely to speak in meetings – and sometimes didn’t regularly attend the meetings.
Thinking about this, and listening to Rinku, Ellen and Lori, raised questions about what kind of group needs to be assembled to make sure that a community process working toward equity doesn’t replicate the same power structures we are trying to undo. Which leads me to ask about your experiences of assembling groups to move a process forward. What have you found is needed so that everyone truly has a voice?