Diversity in Governance: A Toolkit for Nonprofit Boards

Good practice in board governance includes finding the right people to lead. In a city region as diverse as ours, this involves embracing the full spectrum of skills, experiences and connections available. Capitalizing on our immense talent pool is an imperative for today’s nonprofit and public boards.

Ratna Omidvar, President of Maytree and co-chair of DiverseCity

Increasing diversity on your board takes time and effort.

That is why we developed Diversity in Governance: A Toolkit for Nonprofit Boards, a comprehensive toolkit for you to use when working with boards on issues around diversity and governance.

Use this toolkit to help you determine where you are on your diversity journey, what changes you may need to make and in what order of priority. Discover tips and advice on a range of topics such as linking your board diversity strategy to your overall strategic plan and support of new board members. Read descriptions of what other organizations have done and learn from their experiences. Choose from among several sample tools, policies and resources. Adapt them to suit your organization as you progress through startup, implementation and evaluation.

The five sections of the toolkit will guide you through the steps for increasing diversity on your organization’s governing body. “Starting the Conversation” encourages you to talk about what diversity means for your organization. In “Developing a Board Diversity Policy” you will learn about the role of the governance committee, especially with respect to policy development. “Conducting Board Outreach and Recruitment” focuses on how to recruit a more inclusive board. “Creating an Effective Board” provides guidance on setting the stage for a positive and productive board experience. In “Keeping on Track” you will learn about tracking, monitoring and evaluating progress towards achieving your goal of a more inclusive board.

Regardless of where you live, diversity makes good business sense – both corporate and voluntary boards provide service to the community, communicate information and manage scarce resources. Experience tells us that organizations benefit from having governance bodies that reflect the communities they serve. Some of the advantages of a more diverse board include:

  • Diverse perspectives in decision-making lead to better decisions.
  • Legitimizing the mandate of the organization;
  • Building social capital and cohesion among diverse populations;
  • Becoming more responsive to the community and clients; and
  • Supporting fundraising, marketing and reaching out to your markets more effectively.

We wish you and your board success as you change the face of governance in your organization and region.

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