Complex problems are just that: complex. They stem from complicated interactions among multiple actors, against the backdrop of history, systems, and institutions. Within these interactions, we cannot overlook the way race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, economic status – all the things that make us unique, and the “isms” they engender – are entangled with inequities. Nor can we overlook the need to address these biases in order to drive the meaningful change we are all looking to create.
Our mission at Spark has long been to develop innovative and research-based solutions to society’s complex problems. After a summer of devastating violence and expressions of xenophobia and hate across the country – as well as outpourings of generosity and stories of strength – we are more committed than ever to addressing structural inequities head-on in order to create meaningful systems change.
A few years ago, we developed Spark’s organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion:
Spark Policy Institute believes diverse perspectives are key to achieving meaningful change. We are committed to fostering an organizational culture where all people are treated fairly; supporting communities with tailored approaches that lead to a successful future; and ensuring all voices are heard, particularly those most affected by the change.
Since then, we have been working to actualize this commitment, ensuring it is not just words; that it is embedded in our relationships, work, and culture. What does this mean in practice? It means we:
- Recognize the assets, diverse voices, perspectives, and knowledge communities bring to the table in a way that fosters trust, respect, and acceptance.
- Approach all of our interactions with integrity.
- Keep equity front and center.
- Respect lived experience and social identity.
- Continue to focus on internal and external capacity-building, providing fair and equitable access to culturally-appropriate tools, learning, and support.
While we cannot dismantle centuries of institutional “isms” overnight or in isolation, we can each take steps toward a more just, equitable world. We can show, through words and deeds, that we are committed to driving meaningful systems change. Complex problems take time, resources, and hard work to solve. We believe with diverse voices, innovation, and continued dedication, they can be solved.
And we won’t stop until they are.