HOW DIVERSITY CAN BE A CATALYST FOR REACHING YOUR SOCIAL GOALS

Diversity is a hot topic that we hear about more and more across many industries. The development sector is seen as one that is led by the most liberal and open minds. We are, after all, trying to find solutions to problems that impact communities across the globe. Over the years, we have seen more significant efforts implemented throughout the sector to become more inclusive. For example, Christopher Hirst, the CEO of Palladium, suggests that “introducing blind recruitment (e.g., removing identifying characteristics like name and gender from applications) will help us to overcome our unconscious biases.” Also, Itbez Mejivar, founder of BridgePeople LLC, encourages organizations to take the time to listen more to the perspectives of employees who come from the communities that it is trying to serve. 

While discussions often center on how to increase diversity, we would like to shine a light on how your organization and the communities you serve will benefit from intersectional inclusion. 

Increased perspectives for higher impact

When an organization makes it a priority to employ individuals with different points of view, backgrounds, ideas, races, genders, etc., it increases the perspectives available. Why are different perspectives valuable? If an organization is operated by people that all have a similar background, life experience, and level of privilege, it can be easy to overlook culture and experience from non-dominant groups. For example, according to the Harvard Business Review, “In a global analysis of 2,400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board.” If an organization has a staff that is more representative of the communities it works with, these differences and nuances are not often missed. Enabling the organization to use its investments more effectively. 

When an organization makes it a priority to employ individuals with different points of view, backgrounds, ideas, races, genders, etc., it increases the perspectives available, which often leads to better results.

Increased trust

Prioritizing diversity has an impact on how stakeholders view the organization. When communities can work with organizations that have more people that they can relate to, it increases trust. Leaders should be a reflection of the communities that they serve.

Leaders should be a reflection of the communities that they serve.

To accomplish this, the Ford Foundation has taken a transparent look at its diversity stats to find its inequities by gender, race, and ethnicity. By doing so, it has enabled the foundation to make commitments to launch an inclusion audit of its global policies, practices, and procedures. The foundation has also been able to learn about best practices for achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion, and sharing that knowledge with everyone at the foundation; and ensure that their grantmaking favors organizations and institutions with a demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

In conclusion, making diversity a priority does not only benefit the way an organization operates and brings ideas to the table, but it also affects how grantmakers view an organization when making their decisions to fund it.

Making diversity a priority does not only benefit the way an organization operates and brings ideas to the table, but it also affects how grantmakers view an organization when making their decisions to fund it.

Alexandra Alleyne Oliver

Holding a master’s degree in Public Health, Alexandra has a background in Global Health and International Development. She has spent the last four years working for US-based NGOs utilizing her skills to support and lead teams in proposal development.

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