Did you know that there are over 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the US? Nonprofit organizations provide various forms of aid and resources for people from all walks of life. From housing programs to medical care, to disaster relief to hunger relief to education to summer camps nonprofits provide resources and experiences that enrich lives and strengthen communities. Nonprofit leaders bridge the gap between the communities they serve and the legislators, policymakers, and foundations that make their work possible. When nonprofits are led by diverse teams they are better equipped to advocate for the needs of their constituents.

However, in a recent study, it was found that only 14.3% of nonprofit leaders were people of color whereas 78.6% were white. Organizations that provide support and resources primarily for communities of color should take a serious look at the makeup of their leadership teams. 

 Here are a few ways that organizations can improve diversity in the workplace:

  1. Get Strategic: Develop SMART goals to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization and incorporate them into your strategic plan.  
  2. Create a Culture That Values Diversity: Create an inclusive culture within your nonprofit where diverse employees are able to represent themselves and be heard. When employees can feel part of a group with shared experiences and like-minded values, they tend to feel a greater sense of belonging. Additionally, when you value your employees’ lived experiences, they are able to bring in positive and innovative ideas from their unique perspectives.
  3. Intentionally Recruit Diverse Staff: When looking to include more diverse staff in your organization, a good question for leaders to ask is: How can your nonprofit expand its board recruitment and staff hiring pipeline to talented candidates from among underrepresented groups?  When incorporating staffing one way can be through expanding your search to more diverse institutions, which can result in attracting more like-minded clientele. Also, removing unconscious bias from your recruiters and emphasizing the importance of wide range staffing in your nonprofit can help improve your recruiting. When recruiting a diverse board within your organization that is able to provide diverse perspectives and opinions within your nonprofits strategic plans.
  4. Diversify your external stakeholders: In addition to diversifying your staff and board members, it’s important to also consider additional stakeholders like vendors or partners for your organization. Involving yourself with vendors that also prioritize diversity will only strengthen that gap between the organization and the community. 
  5. Empower Diverse Talent: Giving diverse employees a bigger platform or a visible role within the organization to be able to voice the importance of diversity within the organization is very important. Other positives within the organization are to help groom and prepare other diverse employees to fulfill those higher-up roles. This is the main reason why diversity matters, growth. Including groups such as mentorship style programming within the organization or professional development groups that can help build a stronger foundation of diverse leadership. Empowering your diverse talent and amplifying their voices, establishes a unique perspective within the staff that can best support the communities that are being served.

Talking about diversity and actually being a diverse organization are two very different things. Putting a plan into action can substantially benefit the organization, whether that is with improved direction for your org to help growth within your nonprofit, better relationships with clients and the community, or even clarity in the organization’s message.