Diversity and inclusion are specifically important concepts in the nonprofit sector because nonprofits are created to serve the community, made up of people from different backgrounds including different races, ages, genders, and abilities. A nonprofit should be a reflection of the community that it serves, not only in its mission but also in its representation across the organization’s decision-makers. It has come to a time where the world has changed and the way we staff and operate our nonprofit boards must change as well.
In response to why nonprofits specifically need to embrace diversity and inclusion, Christal Cherry, Principal and CEO of The Board Pro and 23-year trained nonprofit fundraiser, says “the world just doesn’t look like that anymore.” A nonprofit’s board, as well as other employees, should be representative of the communities in which it serves. Doing so will allow better, more knowledgeable decisions to be made by the board. “Having diversity of thought, diversity of ideas, and diversity of lived experiences on your board just bodes well,” says Cherry.
Steps to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Nonprofits
It is important to fully understand where your nonprofit is currently at in terms of diversity and inclusion in order to advance in these concepts. Cherry recommends taking a “cultural audit” of your organization. This can be completed individually or as an organization. A “cultural audit” is a process of self-reflection achieved by researching and participating in diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Some resources that might be of benefit to your organization include TedTalks, webinars, and scholarly articles on the topic of diversity and inclusion.
Though the conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion may be uncomfortable for some, it is important to begin the process of self-reflection and put in the work to understand the concept. “It’s personal,” says Cherry.
Reevaluate Strategic Plan
After a review of your organization’s current strategic plan, consider implementing different policies, hiring practices, employee onboarding practices, etc. that ensure that the culture of the nonprofit is sensitive to individuals who may be different.
Many policies may unintentionally be overlooked. It is important to be sensitive to the possible needs of others. “It is a bias in some way because not everyone is not in the same place economically, everyone is not in the same place educationally,” said Cherry. These often unintentional biases will be revealed after an extensive review of your organizations’ current strategic plan.
For example, if a board meeting is at a typically non-working time, some individuals may be excluded if they are caring for family members. The location of a board meeting matters because employees may not have transportation to and from the event. Additionally, many employees may not have the luxury of being able to cover expenses until they are reimbursed.
JMT Consulting Group can aid in the development of your organization’s strategic plan. JMT has worked with nonprofits exclusively for 30 years and offers various solutions to best fit your nonprofit business needs. A full list of these services can be found here.
The creation of a committee or task force ensures oversight of an organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. While diversity and inclusion is a team effort, the individuals on the committee will ensure the long-term success and implementation of the efforts.
Consult External Resources
Nonprofits have done this before! Consult an organization that went through something similar in recent years. They will know what has been successful at their organization and what hasn’t.
When asked what is holding organizations back from fully embracing diversity and inclusion, Cherry responded, “I think fear of the unknown.” Humans are a creature of habit and when something different comes along, we tend to question it and wonder how it might affect us.
In order to combat this way of thinking, make an effort to learn about someone different than yourself. This can be achieved through normal, everyday interactions, with individuals in your community.
The world is changing quickly and nonprofits need to adapt. Diversity and inclusion must be at the forefront of a nonprofit’s operations. “Those who don’t are going to regret it because they cannot continue to navigate in this world, the way it is, without having some diversity,” said Cherry.
The Board Pro believes that successful organizations are governed and led by leaders who are passionate, energized, and determined to change the world. Each board member with his or her unique talents and skills can play a vital role in advancing organizations forward. The Board Pro works with clients to help them harness and use their individual and collective talents, skills, and passions to effectively lead and help nonprofits to thrive. To learn more about The Board Pro and its services, please visit here.