How to Make Board Diversity a Priority

Mar. 23, 2023

With missions dedicated to persevering and overcoming life’s challenges, non-profit organizations are no strangers to diversity. Diversity acknowledges that there’s no one way to live, think, or work together. In that same sentiment, diversifying boards has become a best practice, bringing unique perspectives and experiences to an organization’s top decision makers.

Non-profit boards have the duty to be empathetic, innovative, and mission driven. Welcoming individuals of different demographics, background, and expertise will empower your board to successfully complete their duties. Jump start diversifying your board with these four prompts.

Understand the Community You Serve

First and foremost, serving the community is most important. When a board is diverse, and also reflects those that it's serving, then it is more empathetic, committed, and capable of understanding the everyday problems the community is facing.

Reflect: How are you cultivating a deeper understanding of the communities you serve? How are their needs and priorities championed in board discussions?

Cultivate Holistic Decision-Making

One of the greatest benefits of a diverse board is the differing and unique perspectives that individuals with an array of backgrounds and expertise bring. When faced with a decision, these perspectives can help identify opportunities or risks, on issues such as how to raise money, help more people, or general problem solving.

Reflect: Are you at risk of making decisions without understanding, or accounting for, how decisions will affect those being served?

Expand Your Circle of Influence

Relationships are an integral part of a non-profit’s success. Board members with different circles of influence, whether social or professional, are better suited to expand the organization’s network. It opens the potential to access different resources, make new connections, and recruit members to cultivate new ideas.

Reflect: Is the organization’s network restricted to the current board’s connections? Does this impact the organization’s reputation?

Invite New Skill Sets

Diversity goes beyond demographics. To truly be diverse, board members should have different skills and areas of expertise. Incorporating a wide range of competencies, such as fundraising tactics, donor relations, investment experience, marketing experience, etc., makes for better strategy and sharper execution.

Reflect: How would a commitment to diversity and inclusion influence your organization’s mission and dedication to the work and communities served?

Achieving board diversity is not a single, one-time project. It’s an ongoing dedication to recruit outstanding individuals who are best fit to serve the community and achieve your organization’s mission. Start the conversation today by reflecting on your board’s current efforts.

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