- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Did you know that by 2042, the US will be a "minority-majority" society?
I learned this at a panel presented by Jocelyn Harmon, Allyson Kapin, Shireen Mitchell, and Ivan Boothe on Diversifying Your Tech and Online Communications Team at NTC. A couple of great recaps of the session are available on the Marketing for Nonprofits and Care2 FrogLoop blogs. I found this discussion amidst all of the social media, fundraising, community building discussions to be so invigorating that it kept me thinking all weekend about diversity and what it means for the nonprofit sector and how we do business.
You just don’t see this type of panel topic at a technology conference. But, as you can see from the session topic examples I gave earlier, the Nonprofit Technology Conference, isn’t all about technology anymore. Social media has changed the face of communications and the technology piece of it often is the means for communications and outreach. So, if social media has turned this conference into one that has a strong focus on communications and community building, well, then topics of diversity should be discussed and discussed more!
Diversity really affects all aspects of a business or organization – not only its internal workings and the quality of its outputs, but also how successful it is at reaching its goals, targets, and serving its stakeholders. A few key areas the panel brought up that are critical for nonprofits to factor diversity into are:
- Leadership: Often, leaders recruit from their circles. How leadership thinks, feels and behaves affect all aspects of a company. If the leadership team (including board) is not diverse, how can you really relate to your stakeholders?
- Staff & Innovation: These two go hand in hand. Having a diverse staff means there are more perspectives, voices and representatives at the table for developing innovative products and programs. A somewhat controversial example Allyson gave was the iPad. She believes if the female perspective was heard on this product's team, that their is no way it would have been named something mistakable for a feminine hygiene product.
- The changing landscape of the US: As stated earlier, by 2042, the US will be a minority-majority society, meaning the population will be comprised of more than half of people considered as belonging to a minority group. How will nonprofits factor this in when building programs? How will they factor this in when building donor bases? What does this mean for the job pool?
It was great to be reminded by the panelists that diversity is very much driven by context and how one defines themselves, by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, political views and the list goes on. With my communications and outreach hat on, I think we need to think just as much about how others (our stakeholders) define themselves. This is critical for understanding how to communicate with and reach our stakeholders effectively. But, as Ivan pointed out, sometimes nonprofits can attract donors with messages that may offend your service constituents. So, yes, make sure to think about each stakeholder separately, but then always make sure to piece everything together and examine your strategy as a whole.
It can't be ignored, diversity has to be built into all aspects of a nonprofit's plan now.