How does your Nonprofit consider Diversity?

As our communities continue to grow more diverse, so does the need to acknowledge new ways of addressing emerging dynamic populations.  The Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends projects that by 2050, 1 out of 5 Americans will be identified as an immigrant.  Statistics such as this give relevant cause for nonprofits to re-consider their structures and strategies in order to better reflect the changing communities that they serve.

Diversity and cultural competence may often be discussion topics that are met with rolling eyes, discomfort, and much difficulty.  After all, it is an initiative that does not involve a simple, organized checklist.  It is much more complex and nuanced than other components of capacity building such as fundraising, governance, and management; but yet, its involvement in these facets cannot be ignored and is certainly worth some serious investment.

As such, an organization should work to provide a safe space for the necessary discourse to happen, and thus, for the understanding of differences to truly take shape.  In today’s climate, it may not be enough to simply fill in quotas and match people with desired labels.  Authentic incorporation of diversity transcends the face value ideals and works to integrate those values in the complexities of the structure.

The book, Embracing Cultural Competency, is an excellent first resource for nonprofits learning more about cultural competency in the work that they do.  Although by no means a “how to guide”, the absence of concrete tips allows for readers to gain a broader and more contextualized view on the current climate of diversity in the nonprofit world.

The following is a list of additional resources that may help the conversation rolling…

  • The Center for Social Inclusion focuses on structural racial inequities, providing tools, and strategies for better communication and opportunities for change.
  • Rosetta Thurman tackles the diversity issue in her blog for the young leaders of the nonprofit world.
  • The Foundation News & Commentary put out an article emphasizing the need to reflect the changing cultures of our communities.  Although a few years dated, the article stands to be even more relevant today.

To be sure, diversity concerns more than just race or ethnicity.  It also generously includes all facets of human differences that feed to a culture such as gender, age, language, disability or social economic status (to name a few).  But what about for your nonprofit organization?  How does diversity play here?

Ultimately, the goal of many nonprofits out there is to transform the systems of power we see in the world.  What better way to reach that goal than to reflect such change within one’s own system?

Paul Clarke Nonprofit Resource Center

– Leslie

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