Photo credit: Harvard Business Review

While diversity is not a new issue, I’ve come across some compelling calls to action lately on what it means, what it takes, and why we need to focus on diversity in our organizations.

A Call to Action

First, it was a report from Mobilize.org stating that by 2020 46% of the workforce will be Millennials.

Next, it was Rafael Lopez, Associate Director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation at the Net Impact conference noting how only 19% of nonprofit employers are nonwhite and more than 90% of philanthropy leaders are white, making us more out of touch with many of the communities we serve.

Then, it was a compelling article from Harvard Business Review about the alienation many people of color feel in the workplace.

Yesterday, it was a piece from the Chicago Business, again, noting how the lack of diversity at nonprofits and foundations remains unaddressed.

Today, it was this demographic breakdown I noticed on Facebook of the votes for each of the presidential candidates.

And, finally, it was this warning to nonprofits from Adaobi Okolue, board member at YNPN-Twin Cities about the election:

Continue to not intentionally and strategically seek out candidates of color, continue to not see your program participants as solutionists/co-creators, continue to not see a culture of diversity and inclusion as priority number one, continue to not invest heavily in young people. And very soon nonprofits will find themselves playing second and third fiddle to those same participants, young people, people of color, etc who have radical ideas and the drive to implement them. Your relevance could soon be an issue up for ballot.

Diversity and inclusion are not nice ideas; they are required in order for our organizations to remain relevant and for us to fulfill our social missions.  I’ve seen many of my peers create new organizations and processes. I’ve watched us struggle to address issues of race and class on our own. But make no mistake: we are here, rolling up our sleeves, and making our voices heard.

Stepping Up

There are tons of resources and conversations about this. Last year, the Daily Kos documented the internal struggles of a feminist organization wrestling with race, starting with a major shift in the questions asked:

As I expected, their views were universally that a diverse TWFC would be just like the current TWFC, except there would be more women of color attending events and volunteering for the organization.  Their focus was on “attracting” more women of color.  I urged them to shift the focus in two separate directions:

Question 1:  “How do women of color stand to benefit by joining the current TWFC?”

Question 2:  “Can you see anything about the current structure of TWFC that might serve as an impediment to attracting women of color.”

Harvard Business Review often writes about diversity in the workplace; Rosetta Thurman frequently challenges us to rethink the word diversity and focus on racial justice; Diverse Issues in Higher Ed, while focusing on education, still highlights the struggles and successes of building a more cohesive nation.The information is there. The need is there. The question is: what are you waiting for?