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Re:CAP Recommends | Your board isn't diverse enough

September 22, 2017

Re:CAP Recommends: "Your board isn't diverse enough" by Sharmain Matlock-Turner for Generocity

What: A recent study has shown that over the last two decades, there has been very little progress in increasing the diversity of boards, steering committees, and other leadership bodies in nonprofits across the country. It is a widely accepted fact that diverse boards in nonprofits are better at delivering results and meeting goals, which makes this continued lack of diversity quite frustrating to nonprofit leaders. For many years, nonprofit leaders have played into this lack of diversity by selecting fellow leaders from their own networks, which are often fairly homogenous groups and not representative of the entire population a nonprofit may aim to serve.

Takeaway: There are many social and historical obstacles to diversifying leadership bodies for nonprofits; for that reason successfully doing so requires a constant and active evaluation of such bodies, along with institutional changes that make diversification easier. Nonprofits must constantly examine whether or not their leadership is representative of the racial, sexual, gender, and socioeconomic composition of the groups they aim to serve. Furthermore, nonprofits must take active steps to ensure their leadership can be adjusted to represent said groups. Steps to do so may include institutional changes such as term limits, but more importantly involves a process of setting goals for diversity and stepping out of one’s usual networks to bring in new, qualified leaders.

Sharmain Matlock-Turner is the President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Fels Institute of Government. She began her tenure at the Coalition in March of 1999, with a special distinction as the first woman to lead in the organization’s 47-year history. The Urban Affairs Coalition, formerly GPUAC, unites government, business, neighborhoods, and individual initiative to improve the quality of life in the region.

Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu