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How Foundations Can Foster Diversity and Inclusion

Bringing people with different backgrounds and outlooks into a group boosts creativity, innovation, and effective decision making, research shows. Yet although more and more grant makers are focusing on supporting efforts to advance equity, most foundations lack racial and ethnic variety on their staffs and boards.

People of color account for only 15 percent of foundation trustees and just 5 percent of board chairs, according to a survey of 111 grant makers conducted by BoardSource. Four out of 10 foundations have all-white boards.

Increasing diversity within an organization requires commitment from leaders and an intentional approach to recruitment — plus time for these efforts to deliver results.

Take the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which expanded the share of people of color on its staff from 42 percent to 57 percent over six years. The foundation has taken deliberate steps to ensure that its hiring process fosters diversity, says Kimberly Brown, vice president for human resources. For example, Casey publishes job openings on websites appealing to diverse candidates. One of the organization’s main sources for attracting applicants is the Council on Foundations website. Casey often pays for an upgrade that ensures its posts will be shared with people of color, women, people with disabilities, and other groups.

Here are Chronicle resources that will help your foundation assemble a diverse team, create an inclusive work environment, and advance equity in your community.