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Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Benefits of Inclusion: Diversity & Outcomes

By Olga Heifets, with Erica Baruch

SVP kicked off our 2015 educational programming with the first session in our BOARDS WITH BRAINS series last week. Trainer/consultant Erica Baruch of Erica Baruch Consulting, led the group in a conversation on “Diversity & Outcomes: How Inclusion Improves Organizational Success”.

2015Jan- BWB 'Diversity', p1To begin, Erica had the group consider the difference between “equity” and “equality”. Despite the good intentions that both ideas are squarely grounded in, there is often a difference in how an individual’s starting point impacts the ways he or she is able to take advantage of the same resources. Erica suggested considering how resources, both type and amount, might be best tailored to meet differing circumstances and needs so everyone has an opportunity to thrive.

2015Jan- BWB 'Diversity', p2 Similarly, the attendees considered the difference between “diversity” and “inclusion”. Pushing beyond “diversity,” creating “inclusion” takes time and effort. As Erica shared, working towards inclusion requires thoughtful processes and strategies. Diversity without inclusion can lead to efforts backfiring through experiences of tokenism, unproductive conflict, and resentment. While inclusion work can feel uncomfortable at times, the payoffs are significant, including improved staff morale, better relationships within and among organizations, and improved problem solving. As one attendee put it, “Do nothing about us, without us”.

To help organizations incorporate inclusiveness strategies, Erica shared her “Three Domain Approach” addressing the way to examine inclusion work at the individual-, organizational- and community-level. Pushing beyond awareness and understanding, her approach helps systematize inclusion into how an organization works, soup to nuts, incorporating leadership and staff, volunteers, and clients and community members.

2015Jan- BWB 'Diversity', p11In response to one attendee’s request for more information, Erica subsequently shared some posts and articles on the topic. Research shows that inclusive organizations are better able to realize their organizational missions, have happier and more dynamic employees, and outperform those that are not. More on the benefits of diversity and inclusion can be found here, here, and here.

Missed this session, but want more good thinking on effective nonprofit governance? We invite you to join us for our next BOARDS WITH BRIANS session, a “Financial Management Primer for Nonprofit Managers & Boards”, coming up Thursday February 12th, 2015.

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