Take a close look at the people who make up your nonprofit. Don’t just note the board members, but also consider the paid staff, volunteers, and supporters. Does your organization represent a diverse group of individuals, coming from different backgrounds and making up different cultures? If not, you’re missing out.
The good news is, it’s never too late to expand your nonprofit. Here are a few tips to help you get your board, as well as your team, involved in creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive nonprofit.
Understand the Benefits Yourself
You can’t fully explain the benefits to your board members and staff without first understanding them yourself. When you have diversity among your team, volunteers, and supporters, your organization has access to a broader range of ideas, as well as being able to reach larger groups of people in your community. Stressing the benefits to your organization’s bottom line may be all you need to get everyone on board.
Know Your Biases
Biases are embedded deep in our thinking. So deep, in fact, you might not even realize them. Plan a retreat or at least a dedicated workshop where a diversity expert guides your team through the process of realizing these biases and overcoming them. If you prefer to lead the gathering yourself, there are plenty of tools and quizzes you can use to help everyone identify how they might not be as inclusive as they think.
Go Beyond Hiring and Recruiting
It can be tempting for conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion to focus entirely on hiring and recruiting. You may even discuss reaching out to expand your supporter base. But these practices also apply to your ongoing operations. Since employees who feel their voice is heard at work are more likely to perform better, it’s important to ensure everyone on your team has the opportunity to express their ideas. This goes for your volunteers, as well. Regularly offer everyone involved in your organization the opportunity to speak up, but make sure in doing so that team members and volunteers of color and with disabilities always have an equal voice.
Come Up with an Action Plan
Once you’ve agreed to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization, draw up an action plan your organization can follow. You shouldn’t have a separate diversity statement for your team to read and use. Instead, it should be woven into every policies and procedures document you create, including your mission statement. Make sure, from the start, that any documentation board members, volunteers, and staff use to do their work is as inclusive as possible. This will ensure diversity is part of your core organizational operating procedures, rather than something you’re simply working on improving.
By stressing the importance of inclusion to everyone involved in your organization, you’ll be able to create a team that brings a variety of perspectives to everything you do. Once you have a plan in place, regularly revisit it to ensure that you’re accomplishing all your goals.