Addressing Organizational Bias

Social Issues Affect us all   

What We’ve Been Doing to Address Organizational Bias in 2019 and 2020

What we Can Do to Move Beyond Words   

What will be Different at CRI In our Future




We reject hate, racism and bigotry.  Social and economic justice, diversity and inclusion are in the DNA of Community Rowing.  We are actively pursuing divestment from inequality and embrace the challenge of speaking, living and dreaming of ways we can reflect the best in our nature and hearts.  

Racism, sexism and bigotry are not “out there” while we are “in here”.  They are in the streets, in our schools, on TV, in the news, and embedded in “other” organizations and places.   They are “in here”, too, among us.  There is ongoing fluidity between racial strife and injustice and the ease with which it can be carried to CRI.  What happens “out there” affects us deeply and personally “in here” daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.  We will keep working and sharing our commitment to break through injustice and the loss that we all suffer when people are diminished, dehumanized and excluded because of their skin color, identity, experience, background or ability. 




First, we acknowledge that racism, sexism, bigotry and intolerance are not only artifacts of our past, they permeate our present. Last year, CRI leadership and staff began working to co-construct a leadership system that breaks down hierarchy and gives our entire staff, not just current management, the strongest voices in the leadership and future of CRI. 

  • In September, we stopped operations for a morning to talk about new leadership, a new management approach which began with learning from our staff. We asked, we listened and then we asked some more and we came together to fundamentally change the trajectory of Community Rowing by putting strong voices “in the room” with regard to our mission and our values. 

  • In November and December, we reorganized a new leadership approach that de-emphasized hierarchy and started the conversation about servant leadership and our trust and belief in allowing our staff to embrace their primary role in decision making. That began with a simple statement - I Trust You. 

    • We invited voices to the table with our board. 

    • We affirmed our commitment to ensure retaliation and intolerance are not part of our leadership or management

    • We acknowledged that organizational hierarchy produces experience of “inclusion” and “exclusion” in decision making and the workplace (i.e., the old boys club, white privilege, organizational lethargy around difficult decisions, etc) and it also enables a system of marginalization versus advancement for our employees (i.e., not making others feel safe, retaliation, and organizational bias, among them). 

And throughout the fall and into the winter, the board initiated a strategic planning process. 

  • One of their first steps was to ask our staff - “what’s important to you in this conversation”. 

  • Then, leadership and the board invited the voices of our staff into strategic conversations that led to a revision of our mission and, importantly, the statement of our values that reflects the values of those whom we serve and who serve our community. 

    • We amended our core values to be: 

      • Diversity

      • Belonging and Respect

      • Personal Growth

      • Resilience

  • By the time COVID shut CRI we nearly completed revision of the job description of every full time employee to reflect our commitment to our values and mission. Our goal was to answer simple questions including: 

    • How do we acknowledge when our coaches and staff do a good job serving CRI's mission and values? 

    • How do they know they’re doing a good job serving our mission and values? 

    • How do we recognize those who most effectively serve our mission by not only celebrating their performance but how do we learn from them and take their best work to normalize it across CRI? 

We started this hard hard work but are far from complete, and with COVID, we have been massively interrupted. We are not done. We are on a journey to continue to evaluate the structures and processes that may enable systematic dehumanization of those we serve and those who work at CRI.




We will continue to question our role in perpetuation of institutional racism, sexism, and bias. And will address how we want to handle these difficult, painful, complex and challenging issues as we learn and evolve in our thinking and actions. 

We will continue the hard work in our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which will come with discomfort and necessary redirection of our resources. Our front line staff who serve marginalized or vulnerable populations, or who may be from marginalized or vulnerable populations themselves, will continue to be given agency in responding and a safe environment to speak up. While we have begun breaking down the white, male hierarchy, we have a long way to go.

 We will also:

  • Remain committed to learning of the ways in which race has fundamentally shaped and affected us, our sport and our community.

    • We will continue to get outside of our own individual realities, assumptions and experiences and step back to understand how all these factors (visible and invisible) are interrelated 

  • Not be “Neutral” 

    • We have come out positively and proactively to dismantle privilege, exclusion and silence. We’ll continue to do this by 

      • Being on the lookout with open ears, eyes, and minds from the front line staff to our leadership

      • Encourage and accept that we are imperfect and therefore will remain transparent about our work

    • Listen non defensively to any act of speaking up, especially from those who may already feel marginalized

      • Encourage our staff to speak up and be heard 

      • Encourage leadership to allow for opennes and to be available for feedback and hard input

  • Keep talking, keep asking, keep listening

    • Ask people about their experience and what they need to see changed in our environment 

    • When people speak, they will know we have their back  

  • Not be passive bystanders

    • Step in, clarify and call out hate, bigotry, sexism, bullying and other forms of discrimination

    • Not allow small moments to be passed by

  • Invest our time in learning more about what we can do

    • Not look for comfort by having “other people”  “help us” understand. It's incumbent on everyone at CRI to begin or continue their own journey to understand and “come to the table” with self awareness and determination to learn beyond personal experience. 




We believe change begins with our staff representing a diverse group of stakeholders who have sacrificed for the success of our organization and/or who fuel the success of CRI. It also includes:

  • More diverse representation from a wide range of people and backgrounds at all levels of our leadership and management

  • We won’t accept the excuse that “we can’t find people who …” in rowing to be part of our conversation. 

  • If we think the experience of diverse people matters at CRI then we will also measure, share and work to understand our impact on the choices we’ve made. We set goals in rowing all the time - we need to make sure that our goals reflect our commitment to inclusion in the boathouse as well.