The Case for Board Diversity
Recently, I had a rather heated debate with a board member who believes there is no value to actively considering ethnic diversity in the board recruitment process. I must confess, I was taken aback. The value of board diversity is well-recognized. I believed anyone with the credentials to assume a director position would understand this implicitly.
I was clearly naive.
So, I started to write this blog post. Then I got a little nervous. I am a white woman. That makes me a minority in some respects, but not relative to ethnicity. At least not in Seattle.
I was reluctant to write a blog post making a case for ethnic diversity as a Caucasian because I believed I would subject myself to criticism that would undermine my point. Diversity makes a board stronger. There is ample proof. This should not need to be something I argue about with a board member.
Unfortunately, it still is, which is why I still chose to write about the topic. I’m just taking another approach. I’m compiling articles that I’ve read recently that I believe make the case well. I would also welcome your input. If you have read an article that articulates the case for diversity, I ask that you share them.
I think everyone who cares about this issue needs an arsenal of reasons to provide to those who simply don’t get it.
Here are the articles I found:
A Fresh Look at Diversity and Boards, by Jan Masaoko at Blue Avocado (with thanks to Leadership Tomorrow in Seattle for the recommendation)
Recruiting for Board Diversity, by Jan Masaoko at Blue Avocado
Beyond Political Correctness: Building a Diverse and Inclusive Board by Vernetta Walker at BoardSource (with thanks to Leadership Tomorrow in Seattle for the recommendation)
Diversity is Good. Why Doesn’t Everyone Agree? By Joann Weiner in the Washington Post (addresses corporate environments, but has some great links to other articles)
How Diversity Makes Us Smarter, by Katherine Phillips in Scientific American
The Inclusive Nonprofit Boardroom: Leveraging the Transformative Potential of Diversity, by Patricia Bradshaw and Christopher Fredette in Nonprofit Quarterly
By the way, I did use several of the arguments (and examples) in the Blue Avocado article before I even read the article itself. I was unsuccessful in persuading the board member (or the others on the board who shared his opinion) that ethnic diversity was a mission-appropriate objective for board recruitment. I resigned the client as a result.
While that was the right thing to do from an ethics perspective, I would rather have moved the organization toward inclusiveness. Next time, I hope to be better equipped to make actual change.
Please Add to My List
Do you have another article that helps make the case or would give me (or others) the tools to make change? If so, please leave a comment with your suggestion.
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