How to Become More Diverse in Your Nonprofit

October 24, 2018 | 4,279 views

How to Become More Diverse in Your Nonprofit

How to Become More Diverse in Your Nonprofit

The vast majority of nonprofit CEOs (82 percent) believe that racial diversity is relevant to organizational goals, according to a study by The Center for Effective Philanthropy. But, surprisingly, only a little over half (52 percent) believe that sexual orientation is relevant to organizational goals, and only a handful more (68 percent) believe finding diversity among individuals with disabilities is important.


These figures are staggering in an industry built around making people’s lives better. So what gives? What can nonprofits do to increase focus on overarching diversity and create a culture that’s welcoming of all people? Here are a few strategies to help.


Embrace Differences

The first thing to do when you’re trying to build diversity is to acknowledge everyone’s differences. Differences are a thing of beauty. They’re what make us, as humans, deeper than the rest of the animal kingdom. Our different life experiences, insights, thoughts, and ideas can help drive more impactful and thoughtful decision making, pushing your nonprofit’s success rate through the roof.


Ask Questions

Don’t assume you know what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, or an older employee surrounded by younger team members. Part of acknowledging differences is understanding the experiences of people who are different than yourself. The only way to do that is to openly talk about challenges faced by those who have a different background than yourself.


Asking questions allows people to open up about their struggles. It’s by understanding these struggles that we can embrace those challenges and turn them on their head. For example, if an older worker struggles with some of the technology that’s being used in the workplace, which is common for this generation that didn’t grow up with apps and the Internet, younger workers can acknowledge this and go the extra mile to train them on or talk about the tools being used.


Question Assumptions

It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that certain demographics have struggles, but that’s not always the case. Plenty of older workers embrace and appreciate technology. Question your assumptions when thinking about diversity and instead listen carefully to what people are saying about their preferences and struggles instead.


Train Your Team

It’s important to train your team on how to recognize biases within ourselves and operate from a judgement free zone. Hiring an outside trainer can help shed light on proper practices for your employees. Or, you can have each person take the online Implicit Association Test from Harvard. This test uncovers biases many people don’t realize they have that linger under the surface. It’s through this acknowledgement that people can change behaviors and become more embracing of other’s differences.


Lead By Example

Ultimately, the key to diversity is to create a culture that embraces people’s differences. This starts with leadership. When you focus on creating a team that’s diverse, asking questions of each team member and really listening to their answers, questioning your own assumptions, and going through your own training, you set the tone for how your team should operate too.



Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

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