Report: Only 31% of Nonprofits Have a Diversity Strategy

December 19, 2019 — Despite widespread recognition among nonprofit organizations that they need to increase staff diversity, only 52% of nonprofits have a formal diversity statement and even fewer—31%—have a diversity strategy, according to a recently completed survey.

In addition, only 22% of nonprofit organizations have someone on staff solely responsible for diversity efforts, the survey found.

"While the national discussion has moved toward the triad of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we have seen countless examples of unsuccessful attempts to tackle the basic foundation of diversity," notes Lisa Brown Alexander, chief executive office of Nonprofit HR, which conducted the 2019 Nonprofit Diversity Practices survey of 566 organizations across North America.

In general, according to the survey, larger organizations tend to have a diversity strategy: 56% of nonprofits with 500 or more employ said they have a strategy, compared with 40% of organizations with 51 ”“ 100 employees, and 20% of those with less than 10 staffers.

The same relationship holds true for having a formal diversity statement: 76% of nonprofits with 500 or more employ said they have a statement, compared with 51% of organizations with 51 ”“ 100 employees, and 45% of those with less than 10 staffers.

Forty-nine percent of organizations employing 500 or more people task someone to be solely responsible for diversity efforts.

"As race continues to be one of the most important challenges of our time, it is essential for organizations to pay attention to race because a diverse workforce is becoming essential to organizational success," the report states.

Realizing the need for racial/ethnic diversity itself is a major challenge to becoming a more diverse organization, as 42% of respondents said realizing the need is their organization's greatest diversity challenge. Other factors posing a challenge include creating safety for management and staff to openly discuss diversity, realizing diversity based on background and experience, and realizing gender diversity.

Organizations that have a diversity strategy initiated it for a range of reasons: 20% recognized a lack of diversity at leadership levels, 13% saw a lack of diversity among staff, 7% did so in response pressure from various stakeholders, and 6% viewed it as important to retaining employees.

More than half of the organizations participating in the survey—55%—said they have not implemented any metrics to measure progress with their diversity efforts or initiatives.

However, 36% said they are using race/gender/age metrics to track progress. Sixteen percent look to gaps in pay as a metric, while 13% track minority retention.

Of the organizations that implemented metrics, 28% said they share the data only with senior management, 25% said they share it only with senior management and the board, while 25% said they share it with senior management, the board, and staff.