The Nasdaq stock exchange will soon require all listed companies to publicly disclose board-level diversity statistics and have (or explain why they do not have) diverse directors. While this requirement only applies to Nasdaq-listed companies, it might be a good idea for all organizations to increase board diversity, including nonprofits.

The first step is to determine the current makeup of your board from a diversity standpoint. One idea is to create a spreadsheet matrix that lists all your board members and their age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, etc. This will tell you how diverse your board is now and give you an idea of what steps you should take (if any) to make your board more diverse.

As you think about increasing the diversity of your board, it is important to go beyond mere tokenism and symbolism. In the past, it may have been sufficient to claim that your board is diverse because one or two women or people of color. Achieving true board diversity today, however, requires more.

Given the growing awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues today, many nonprofit donors expect the organizations they support to have a diverse board of directors.

Your organization could realize a number of benefits by increasing board diversity. Each board member will bring their own diverse perspectives to the table when discussing issues and making decisions and recommendations. With diversity in experience and expertise, your organization could be in a stronger position to advance equity, make more well-rounded decisions, and take advantage of new opportunities.

As you seek to build a more diverse board, look for candidates with a variety of cultural backgrounds and life experiences they can bring to your organization. Also consider regional factors specific to your community and constituents, such as cultural norms and trends in your area of the country.


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