Nonprofits Struggle to Implement Diversity Measures, Survey Finds

Nonprofits Struggle to Implement Diversity Measures, Survey Finds

While a majority of nonprofits have a formal diversity statement, fewer have taken concrete steps to translate intention into action, a report from human resources firm Nonprofit HR finds.

Based on a survey of more than five hundred and fifty nonprofits in North America, the report, 2019 Nonprofit Diversity Practices (56 pages, PDF), found that while 52 percent of respondents had a formal diversity statement, only 31 percent had a formal diversity strategy and only 22 percent had a person on staff responsible for the organization's diversity efforts. Nonprofits with budgets of at least $20 million (63 percent) and those focused on human and civil rights (57 percent) were the most likely to have a diversity statement, while those with budgets of at least $40 million (63 percent) and those focused on social and human services (36 percent) and education (35 percent) were the most likely to have a diversity strategy.

According to the report, 43 percent of respondents said their organization's staff was not reflective of the community it serves, while 42 percent of respondents cited "realizing racial and ethnic diversity" as their greatest diversity challenge. Other challenges included "creating safety for management/staff facing challenges with openly discussing diversity" (16 percent), "realizing diversity based on background/experience" (11 percent), "realizing diversity based on differing abilities" (5 percent), and realizing higher representation of veterans (5 percent). In addition, only 45 percent of respondents said their organization had adopted metrics to measure progress in its diversity efforts in the area of race, gender, and age (36 percent), pay gaps (16 percent), and minority retention (13 percent).

"Foundations in our space are clamoring to make statements about DEI and race equity when they aren't actually interested in doing the work or diversifying and retaining staff of color," one survey respondent told Nonprofit HR. "Any discussion about these topics makes people uncomfortable and is ultimately shelved or watered down to the point where the only action items are all HR-focused, with no accountability for anyone else in the organization."

"2019 Nonprofit Diversity Practices." Nonprofit HR Report 11/19/2019.