One starting point for folks in thinking about board diversity is to remember that the process for building a board parallels the process for building a team. Why? Because an effective nonprofit board is one that is a team. This consideration should be central for a board governance committee and the board chair. That said, Forbes posted an article on the issues of diversity for nonprofit paid and volunteer leadership. You can read the whole article here.
One particularly useful piece of advise is here:
Diversifying The Pipeline
We can safely assume that people of color and women are losing ground in the for-profit arena and are stagnant in the nonprofit circles. The solution to this issue is for both nonprofit and for-profit leaders and boards of directors to be intentional in attracting, building and retaining talent in these underrepresented populations.
I believe the talent exists, but it is not fully cultivated. If every executive took one woman or person of color, mentored and encouraged them to move up within the company or seek higher levels outside of the company, we would see gradual but significant improvement. We can accomplish this by doing three things:
1. Build bench strength. This can be done by providing mentoring and/or coaching, educational investment and assigning special tasks to help employees grow their skills and knowledge.
2. If your organization lacks diversity, recruit it. Intentionally seek applicants via various affinity groups, such as the local or state Hispanic Alliance, the National Urban League or the American Business Women’s Association.
3. Create a diverse succession plan. This succession plan should intentionally increase the diversity within an organization and allow for planned upward mobility.
These practices take time, often years. But more than that, it takes the intentional commitment of leaders, staff and the board.