by Debra Box
BoardSource’s Leading with Intent research continues to show how we are failing to increase board diversity. Anne Wallestead, BoardSource’s President and CEO writes “BoardSource is unapologetic about our belief in the importance of board diversity, not just because we believe diverse perspectives help boards operate more effectively but because we understand the very real risks a lack of diversity can create. Homogeneous boards can fall prey to strategic blind spots in any context, but the stakes are especially high when a board is ill-equipped to understand the impact of its decisions on the communities it seeks to serve.”
We at Support KC stand in agreement. Through our work providing governance support services and providing backbone support to the Cultural Competency Collective, we see firsthand that diversity, inclusion and equity are essential elements to the success of good governance and nonprofit work.
We are excited to be launching an initiative to support building networks in our community to identify, train, and connect diverse emerging leaders with nonprofit organizations that understand and embrace the philosophy of inclusion and equity.
At our September Coffee Cup Conversation, we engaged our client network to help us better understand what resources and paths to success Support KC should undertake in developing this Initiative. Our clients all shared their desire to be more inclusive in recruiting and retaining diverse board members. At this month’s Coffee Cup Conversation, we were delighted to be joined by attorney and board consultant David Oliver, and our group discussion included several dynamics to diversity, including:
- Different routes to the same destination
- Thoughts and background
- Age, geography, color
- Race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation
- Populations served
Understanding diverse skillsets has become standard fare in board recruitment, but evolving recruitment tactics must include building networks to access more diverse individuals. Has your nonprofit been intentional about looking at your networks? Reaching out to create new networks starts with mapping your board’s existing networks. Beth Kanter has done some excellent work on mapping networks: http://www.bethkanter.org/network-mapping/. This blog also includes references to June Holley’s work on network weaving.
Our hope at Support KC is to act as a backbone to support, increase and connect diverse networks of individuals interested in board service through engagement, training, and formal networking opportunities. Our intended impact for this initiative is an increase in diversity, inclusion and leadership capacity for board service. We are at the beginning stages of this work and look forward to networking with sector leaders passionate about diversity. Stay tuned to our social media channels for more updates and opportunities to connect!
Debra Box, M.A.
President and CEO
Support Kansas City, Inc.
P.S. We had the chance to sit down with David Oliver afterward to continue our talk Board Diversity. Watch the interview below.