2 Principles for Retaining Diverse Board Members
From my own personal experience of being actively recruited and matriculating through multiple organizations which were undergoing diversity and inclusion initiatives, from my high school and university experience as an undergrad in St. Louis, Missouri, all the way to my own personal non profit Board service, I have learned 2 principles, at great personal cost, to retaining diverse representation on your Board, and within your non profit agency's reach at large:
A) Build Meaningful Relationships. By this I mean seek to build deep, trust- building relationships, with the same fervor and strategic planning that we use when we are seeking to engage Major Gift donors. Also, we must be cognizant of the fact that many diverse and minority groups have experienced immense and historical marginalization within our society, so building Trust will come with it's own set of challenges for each individual. I've attached a summary of the Speed of Trust book, by Stephen Covey. Commit to building Trust with diverse members, over time.
B) Add Value on Both Sides. Traditional Board service has essentially required a LOT from the Board Member, but actually has contributed very little in terms of tangible impact. Many people from diverse backgrounds have already had to start out "behind the 8 ball" as it were, so any support that your Board can provide, as far as helping them to get one step closer to their own personal, professional, and entrepreneurial goals would be MUCH appreciated. This could be through facilitating introductions to key individuals within your network; allowing the Board member to strengthen a particular skill set in alignment with their Board service; or any other way that we can add tangible and meaningful value to their lives, in addition to the annual Volunteer Appreciation dinner.
However, we won't know where to even start to Add Value, if we aren't building a True & Genuine relationship...
A word of Caution: If we fail to both intentionally and genuinely build relationships, and seek to add value to the lives of persons of color and diverse individuals on our Boards, we run a great risk:
A) At best, the individual may feel disconnected and undervalued.
B) At worst, they may feel tokenized, exploited, or used for their “diversity”.
This is the opposite of the mission- driven Core Values that drive our Non Profit agencies. We've created our proprietary relationship- based VCSI Inclusion Model which may support your agency DEI initiatives. Contact us to learn more!