The Latest Trends in Board Governance — Part Two

Earlier this summer, BoardSource released Leading with Intent: BoardSource Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, its tenth study of nonprofit board governance.

Leading with Intent tracks and analyzes trends in nonprofit board leadership by surveying nonprofit chief executives and board chairs, which often creates unique insights into how each group perceives the work of leading a nonprofit organization.

Last week, we explored the primary findings of the new report. This week, we explore the companion report, Leading with Intent: Reviewing the State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on Nonprofit Boards, which is the first of its kind.

There are three key findings from the companion report:

  1. Boards may be getting slightly more diverse, but they are far from representing the communities they serve.
  2. Board recruitment practices are not aligned with diversity goals.
  3. Boards that include people of color are more likely to have adopted DEI practices than boards that do not include people of color.

The following chart illustrates the current state of participating organizations.

In addition to the data above, 19% of the participating organizations had boards that were all white.

Based on the data, the top two methods for identifying potential new board members are:

  1. Board members’ personal or professional networks.
  2. CEO/ED’s personal or professional networks.

When boards that are predominately white rely on these recruitment methods, they tend to recruit candidates who are also predominately white. The “same old, same old” board recruitment practices are akin to repeating the same behavior over and over again but expecting different results. Unless boards are willing to change their recruitment practices, diversity within nonprofit leadership is unlikely to change.

In every section of the report, there are meaningful questions to pose to your board, including:

  • “Do all-white boards fundamentally see their work differently than boards that include people of color? Are these findings indicative of a ‘disconnect’ between all-white boards and the diverse communities they serve?”
  • “Have we considered how a lack of diversity could be creating gaps in our awareness and understanding of important issues?”
  • “Have we compared the current composition of our board in terms of the skills, expertise, cultural/ethnic demographics, and lived experiences to the optimal composition we would like to achieve so that we include a wider range of perspectives?
  • “Does our board’s composition signal a sincere commitment to understanding and sharing power with the communities we seek to serve?”
  • “What do we understand about why it matters that we become more diverse? How will it impact the way we lead our organization?”

We encourage you to assign this report as a pre-read for your next board meeting and then take a full hour of the meeting agenda to talk openly and honestly about your organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion practices.

Our hope is that this report sparks a new level of conversation, understating, and implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion practices because families and communities thrive when nonprofits are highly effective.

Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO

2021-08-12T16:37:31+00:00August 12th, 2021|