There has never been a more timely opportunity for social impact leaders to demonstrate their commitment to diversity. However, many CEOs may find themselves with a need to self-examine their leadership competencies, particularly when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. In a post-pandemic economy, mission-driven organizations have the unique power to lead through action and example, which can accelerate sector-wide change.

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur.com, Nonprofit HR’s CEO, Lisa Brown Alexander, explained, “most people are socialized around certain beliefs and perceptions, and it’s not easy to unpack those overnight.” The actual diversity of an organization’s staff is the top indicator of an employer’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Making an intentional effort to build a diverse workforce and culture starts with the CEO. Three prerequisites to making this effort successful are awareness, conversation, and commitment. While there are many actions to explore, here are four key ways to begin moving the needle forward:

  1. Reignite the diversity discussion by creating or refining your organization’s strategy and statement, leading the adoption and implementation of diversity practices, and pinpointing opportunities to measure impact.
  2. Initiate training to ensure that all staff receives some form of learning and development in the area of diversity.
  3. Meaningfully invest in resources and materials that staff can refer to in order to increase the application of best practice.
  4. Increase transparency around decision making to foster a culture of inclusion.

It’s no secret that failure to demonstrate a commitment to diversity erodes a mission’s ability
to attract and retain best talent. When left unaddressed or under-addressed, inequitable treatment of employees has a toxic, destructive effect on an organization’s culture.

In our current political and social climate, it is more important than ever that nonprofit organizations step up to serve those in need and innovate for the health and sustainability of their missions. Regarding preparedness, here are five questions to ask:

  1. What is our strategy for diversifying the organization at all levels?
  2. What has limited our diversity efforts and initiatives? What have we done about it?
  3. Have we lost effectiveness or relevance among our constituency due to a lack of diversity?
  4. What resources do we have to increase our diversity efforts?
  5. How will a more intentional approach to diversity impact and/or advance our mission
    and result in improved results for those we serve?

Not sure of where to start? Contact us to begin a discussion on how to attract diverse talent to your organization. We can also help you conduct a compensation analysis through a racial equity lens. Let’s talk!

Myra T. Briggs, CSC, CSSGB
Executive Search Consultant & Practice Leader
O: (202) 644-7420 | mbriggs@nonprofithr.com

Schedule time to discuss your Executive Search needs here.


Diversity looks different for each organization and over the years Nonprofit HR has witnessed the impact diversity continues to have on missions. For a second consecutive year, Nonprofit HR is seeking input from social sector leaders, human resources practitioners, and talent management experts about their diversity practices. The process takes less than 10 minutes to complete!

Take the 2020 Nonprofit Diversity Practices Survey and take it now!