Nonprofit Network Blog

Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Organization

Thursday, May 04, 2017 9:00 AM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



Katena Cain

Nonprofit Management Consultant

Katena@nonprofnetwork.org





Nonprofits are in the business of making their communities healthier, stronger and more enriching for all of its members. Whether they are involved in health care, the arts, civil rights, religious activities, or any other worthwhile charitable cause, nonprofits influence the quality of life for people in the communities they serve. Organizations that value diversity – racial and ethnic diversity, as well as diversity in age, ability, thought, planning processes, and recruitment strategies – are stronger.

Research suggests that employees who view their organization as being supportive of diversity and inclusion also tend to have higher levels of engagement. Highly engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, be an advocate of the organization, its products and services, and contribute positively to the bottom line business success.

So, what does an organization look like when it has embraced diversity, inclusion and equity?

  • Demonstrated Commitment to Diversity – In a diverse, inclusive and equitable organization, visible and invisible heterogeneity is present throughout all departments and at all levels of responsibility.
  • Equitable Systems of Recognition & Reward – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization establishes systems to recognize, acknowledge and reward the diverse contributions and achievements of employees at all levels of responsibility.
  • Demonstrated Commitment to Continuous Learning – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization acknowledges that every employee is a learner and teacher.
  • Collaborative Conflict Resolution Processes – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization values and utilizes progressive conflict resolution procedures that empower employees at all levels to work collaboratively to solve problems.
  • Demonstrated Commitment to Community Relationships – A diverse, inclusive and equitable organization forges constructive alliances with the community to expand outreach to diverse communities, widen opportunity, enhance access or promote understanding to overcome prejudice and bias.

Capacity builders, like Nonprofit Network, can contribute to organizations who desire to be more diverse and inclusive, by helping them develop a vision for inclusivity, and provide concrete tools, practices and processes that eliminate barriers to success. Nonprofit Network is responsible for ensuring that all nonprofit organizations in Michigan have affordable access to best practices that help them to be efficient and effective. Diversity and inclusion is not a luxury, but an important foundation for organizations – making it possible to serve all communities, bridge across differences, and ultimately improve the social, health and educational outcomes of our community.



Building an Inclusive Team


Having a diverse candidate pool to hire from is primary and critical – you can’t become a diverse organization if you don’t have diverse applicants.



Here are some tips:
  1. Posting your position in the same places will get you the same candidates.  Positions should be posted and advertised in a wide variety of places, including community boards, cultural community groups, local ethnic and community newsletters, and associations and organizations that serve ethnic communities.  Your efforts should extend beyond the standard.  Also, does your front line position REALLY need someone with a Master’s Degree? Make sure that you are hiring for attitude and training for skill.

  2. Build relationships with cultural groups and organizations that work with diverse communities. Contact local agencies that serve diverse populations. Ask these organizations to help distribute your job posting.
  3. Promote your organization as a viable place to work. Individuals may not be considering a nonprofit as a possible employer. Nonprofit employment can sometimes be perceived as insecure. Promote the strength of your nonprofit, the benefits you provide and communicate your value as an “employer of choice”.
  4. Walk the walk. Do the pictures on your promotional materials, website and social media illustrate your organization values diversity? Do your paid holidays value diversity? Do your HR policies value diversity? Does your organization value communication and respect?

Changing your recruitment habits may improve the candidates you attract. Don’t forget to provide additional training around diversity and inclusion – retention is critical! If you haven’t been successful in retaining a diverse workforce, you may need to look at your inclusion policies and practices.



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