Embrace Diversity

Fourth of the series: 
8 Strategies for Empowering your Nonprofit Board

The best way to enjoy diversity in a board setting is to embrace the different skills and perspectives each board member brings to the group, regardless of demographics. Diversity can include race, culture, gender, age, geography, employment background or prior service.

Enlightened boards and organizations recognize the importance of a wide variety of perspectives. Research shows that diverse boards outperform homogeneous boards. Thus, good boards seek a variety of perspectives and experiences to maximize the impact of their vision.

Board diversity, however, does not guarantee a successful board. Diversity can also create conflict. Board effectiveness requires a leader who can bring together diverse perspectives in ways that advance the common objective. A good board leader will periodically remind board members of the organization’s mission and vision, keeping board members focused on the common agenda. A leader facilitates getting input from each member, especially with a diverse board, and then brings it all together for a richer outcome.

Successful board diversity also requires board members committed to respecting opinions different from the established norm. Thus, respect, interest in the other person’s ideas, avoiding assumptions, and embracing differences are all good practices for a diverse board.

When you recruit a diverse cross section of board members, you can expect to include important perspectives. For instance, millennials, representing an age dimension of diversity, add a younger generation’s perspective and outlook that is essential to well-rounded board considerations (see also Empowering Board Members – Include Millennials for more on what they offer your board). Women may have a more straightforward way previously not considered to achieve a goal. A member from the outskirts of town may provide a much-needed viewpoint about the organization that is quite different from someone who is a city-dweller.  

What you gain from incorporating diverse perspectives in your board discussions is a breadth of experience and insightful contributions that a homogeneous board rarely realizes. With diversity of experience and insights comes

  • Renewed understanding of the organization’s mission
  • Creation of new initiatives to generate new exposure of the organization
  • Implementation of recurring initiatives that breathe renewed excitement into the organization
  • A better understanding of how to move forward with the organization’s vision.

Value and embrace diversity. Understand what both sides gain from the relationship. Then enjoy a new depth and breadth of impactful success.

Make board diversity part of your organization’s strategic plan. Contact us to learn how.

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