Diversity in all areas—from occupation, age, gender, race, or ethnicity to family status, economic status, or physical ability—is key to taking our organizations to new heights.
As organizational leaders, we all know we should have a diverse board. But building a diverse and dynamic board requires strategy, commitment, and strong buy-in from current board members and staff leadership. In our work, we often hear board members ask, “Diversity sounds like a good idea but is it really worth all this extra work?”
To secure the commitment to strategically developing a diverse board, current leaders must be given a new vision for how a diverse board will make the organization stronger.
Here are our top 5 reasons why a diverse board makes your organization stronger:
5. Leadership Succession
Multigenerational boards ensure that the organization’s institutional memory and culture continue for decades. Younger board members have the opportunity to learn from experienced board members and boards can benefit from the new ideas and fresh energy of younger generations. Providing experience and mentoring to younger board members and board members who are new to the nonprofit sector ensures quality leadership for decades.
4. Expanded Network
A board that contains diversity in occupation, age, gender, race or ethnicity, family status, economic status, physical ability, and other areas will exponentially increase their network and influence in the community. With a larger network, an organization increases its ability to secure funding, create community partnerships, and build advocates. In turn, this increases the organization’s ability to achieve financial stability, provide quality programming, and adapt to an ever-changing environment.
3. Better Decision Making
Boards with diverse skills, talents, life experiences, and cultural backgrounds will experience a more thorough deliberation processes that lead to stronger decision making. The work a nonprofit does in a community and the relationship it has with its community is complex and nuanced. A board with a strong variety of perspectives will be able to analyze and evaluate situations and strategic decisions with a greater understanding of this complexity.
2. Improved Programs and Services
Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) teaches us that the best solutions for community issues come from within the community itself. An organization we worked with that serves pregnant mothers found their programs exploded once they started implementing suggestions from several new board members. Enrollment skyrocketed and opportunities for financial and programmatic growth started falling in their lap. The work of our organizations is complicated and people who have been impacted by the work or issues have invaluable insights to offer as nonprofit leaders.
And the number ONE reason is…
We just heard you registered for Nonprofit Day (October 29, 2019)! In that case, you will have to come to our workshop to learn the number one reason why a diverse board makes you stronger. It’s a good one, too!
We’ll see you at our workshop: “Diversity and Inclusion at All Levels: Action Steps for Fostering an Inclusive Organization for Board, Staff, and Clients.”
Janelle Newman is with The Script Project. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.
Ginny Giles is with Community Equip'd. Learn more about the organization here.