Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Nonprofit Boards

What’s your Board of Directors’ responsibility?

By Phil Stolberg, Chief Operating Officer

Throughout the nonprofit world, more and more time and energy is being given to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for nonprofit boards – and rightly so. 

Regardless of their mission, NPOs face increasing expectations within our culture to define, implement and celebrate DEI values in all organizational practices.  

Additionally, many state governments are considering legislation mandating DEI action plans and compliance within publicly held companies, and it is reasonable to expect this governance to someday extend to the nonprofit sector. So how can nonprofits prepare now? 

DEI is a Nonprofit Board Best Practice 

As a proactive step, it certainly makes sense for nonprofit board directors to assume oversight and accountability for their organization’s DEI action plan. 

While the executive management team is responsible for day-to-day organizational DEI outcomes, the board of directors should anticipate that all stakeholders (donors and funders, employees, volunteers, program participants, local/state and federal governments) are expecting top leadership (the nonprofit board) to oversee DEI progress and success.  

Nonprofit boards must evaluate their organization’s DEI performance and establish a DEI action plan, which includes the allocation of resources, scheduled milestones and markers of success… such as the composition of the board.

DEI and Nonprofit Boards: What the Research Says

BoardSource, the most recognized resource for nonprofit leadership and support, produced an excellent report, “Leading with Intent – Reviewing the State of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Nonprofit Boards.”  

This informative report addresses actionable insights into DEI board composition, decision-making, and director roles and responsibilities. I encourage you to pour yourself a cup of coffee and then study the research on diversity, equity and inclusion for nonprofit boards! 

Bottom line: Your nonprofit board of directors is expected to define a relevant, actionable and transparent DEI action plan for your organization, and is responsible to all your nonprofit stakeholders for achieving the plan’s goals. By investing in DEI now, your nonprofit board can help ensure the health, success and longevity of your organization for years to come. 

Click here to read more “Strategic Insights” on our website. 

  • Chief Operating Officer

    Phil Stolberg, Chief Operating Officer

    With over 40 years of experience in marketing and communications, BDI’s Chief Operating Officer, Phil Stolberg, has dedicated his career to working with not-for-profit organizations. He has held a variety of leadership positions, both with nonprofit organizations and with agencies that consult with the not-for-profit world, allowing him extensive experience with marketing, major donor and capital campaigns, special event and foundation fundraising.

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