The Irvine Foundation is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in what we do and how we do it. This includes acknowledging persistent, pervasive racism in our institutions and systems that must be eliminated if we are to improve outcomes for all Californians.
We view this as an ongoing commitment that we must continually focus on to make us a better employer, partner, and steward of our resources for the people of California.
The latest chapter in this journey for Irvine began in 2016 and covers various aspects of our internal and external work:
Diversity among our staff, board, and contractors is important, to fully reflect the diversity of people and perspectives in our state. Each year we publish demographic data about our staff and board in our Portfolio Review.
We support and learn from organizations and people who understand and address the barriers that low-wage workers face. Diversity within those organizations and in who they serve is important, and we collect data on both. For example, of organizations who received Irvine grant dollars in 2020:
Beyond racial equity work that existing grantees may do, in 2020 we committed an additional $20 million over 18 months specifically to address anti-Black racism and racial equity more broadly. In December 2020, we made our first grants, targeting Black-led efforts to advocate for justice and to support Black-owned small businesses and wealth building for Black workers. We will make additional grants in 2021 as part of a more comprehensive strategy we are developing.
Empathy, Equity, and Partnership are Irvine values, underscored by our commitment to listening to community members and others as we develop, implement, and adjust our initiatives. Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Staff Committee works to ensure we live into our commitment to DEI in our policies and practices, and continue to find inclusive ways to elevate staff voices.
For Irvine, equity means fair and just outcomes for all Californians — recognizing our differences and eliminating barriers that prevent full participation of all people. That includes acknowledging the role race, gender, and other factors play in how people are treated and afforded opportunity — and actively working to end systemic discrimination that denies dignity and prosperity for our fellow Californians.
Every Californian — regardless of who they are or where they live — should have the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families. However, discrimination, racism, and exclusion — in policies and practices — have blocked opportunities for Californians in every corner of our state, of every race and ethnicity, and of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, faiths, creeds, and abilities.
Some barriers for low-wage workers are the same: high costs of housing, transportation, and childcare; higher education that is expensive and often poorly aligned with a changing economy; and the weight of intergenerational poverty in families.
But there are also different roadblocks for different Californians: Historical, racist policies and practices about where someone can live, who receives a business loan, and who is hired or promoted for certain jobs has meant generations of people of color have had to work harder to get ahead (and continue to make up the majority of California’s low-wage workers).
Additionally, residents of inland California may live farther away from education, training, and career-building jobs. New immigrants may have limited access to education or at work as they learn English — and often lack access to information in their native language, or the documentation to fully, confidently participate.
And affecting all these roadblocks are racial biases that still pervade our society, from anti-Black racism that was part of our nation’s founding to racist treatment of Latinos, Asians, and native peoples as part of California’s own origin.
That’s why we’re focused on using our resources for solutions to address the issues of today while also leveling the playing field for millions of Californians to overcome historical barriers and institutional obstacles to prosperity.