A Continued Commitment to Diversity

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I wanted to highlight and expand on a number of points made in this important Crain’s op-ed written by my colleague Sharon Bush, co-chair of Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy and Director of Elgin Programs at Grand Victoria Foundation. Sharon notes that efforts to expand diversity within foundations should be more than just a matter of hiring; it’s building diversity into the DNA of an organization and making diversity a key value within its operations.

Diversity initiatives need to be supported by policies. Foundation boards should purposefully build diverse candidate pools for executive and trustee positions. Executive search committees should include African American representation.

It’s not enough to simply hire individuals from diverse backgrounds; the entire hiring process needs to be influenced by the principles of inclusion and equity.

D5 use thisThese principles for years have driven Donors Forum’s strong commitment to increased diversity within the philanthropic and nonprofit sector. For the past three years we’ve been deeply engaged in the D5 coalition, a foundation-sponsored effort to grow diversity and inclusion within philanthropy. The project recognizes the changing face of American demographics and that foundations can increase the impact of their grantmaking if it’s influenced by ideas drawn from diverse perspectives.

D5 takes a frank and honest look at the challenges the sector faces in being more inclusive at all levels – board, CEO, staff – and doesn’t shy away from the tough questions and identifying the internal barriers that prevent foundations from fully embracing diversity. It also offers a clear set of strategies for how grantmakers can begin to incorporate the values of diversity and inclusion into their organizations.

State of the work 2013 copyI encourage you to visit the D5 website to learn more about the project and to access the resources the coalition has produced and compiled, including its latest report that provides inspiration and ideas for how grantmakers can advance diversity within their organizations. Donors Forum's website also includes a host of resources focusing on diversity and our efforts to advocate for more diversity within the sector in Illinois.

Donors Forum’s commitment to ensuring foundation boards and staffs reflect the diversity of the communities they serve is unwavering. As Sharon writes in her op-ed, “The benefit of this work is a stronger, more prosperous Chicago [and Illinois] for us all.” 

-- Valerie S. Lies, President and CEO, Donors Forum