Which one is 2002, and which one is 2010?

Where we left off yesterday…was comparing a new set of reports from the Council on Foundations on diversity with a research study from the Joint Affinity Groups in 2002. Here are the recommendations from each report. Can you tell which one is 2002 and which one is 2010? How much progress have we made in 8 years?


Foundation culture must change for diversity to be successful.

  • Diversity and multiculturalism must be institutionalized to become part of grantmaking organizational culture. This requires changing practices and norms considered standard in the past.
  • There are many ways to undertake diversity efforts, including task forces or committees to steer initiatives. The work of diversity is participatory and often takes place through teams, including representatives from all levels in an organization. Such mechanisms handle problem solving and provide a vehicle for dealing with internal culture and policies.
  • Respecting and valuing diverse staff and board members contributes to successful efforts.
  • Expanding a foundation’s staff or board as a method of diversifying is a way to initiate such a change in culture. Recruitment of multicultural decision-makers may require cultivating and identifying different networks of candidates from outside a foundation’s economic and social circles.
  • Employment benefits are a signal of an institution’s commitment to become an inclusive, multicultural workplace. Acknowledgement of multicultural holidays, domestic partner benefits and policies, and workplace accommodations for people with disabilities indicate institutional awareness and attract diverse staff.

Written materials are essential.

  • Include a commitment to diversity in key statements. Develop written materials that communicate diversity objectives.
  • Committed organizations articulate the importance of diversity through their institution’s mission, vision, values, and/or funding strategy.
  • Statements and organizational policies that reflect the centrality of diversity formalize institutional commitment and establish a standard of accountability.

Educate the field about the need for diversity.

  • Inform boards and trustees about the value of diversity.
  • Training can increase understanding and improve communications at the outset of any diversity initiative. Training for managers is fundamental. Outside professionals often undertake training, passing on concrete skills that managers can then use to train other staff.

Diversity is a conscious, ongoing process.

  • Planning, dedicating the resources required, and evaluating progress are central as diversifying takes time, energy, and perseverance.
  • Establish clearly defined internal goals, responsibilities and accountability mechanisms.
  • Focus groups, surveys, and/or diversity audits can assess an organization’s diversity climate and identify areas of concern and desired outcomes.
  • Consultants can provide expertise and impartiality. The presence of individuals not invested in internal organizational dynamics offers perspective and a distance that can make it easier to raise issues likely to cause conflict.

Expect consequences and readjust.

  • If one aspect of a foundation’s program or structure changes to become more diverse, it frequently causes a ripple effect throughout the organization.
  • Anticipate some failures, internal resistance and departures. A willingness to change systems and remove institutional barriers is a must.
  • More consideration needs to be given to sustained diversity efforts over time.


1. Consider how diversity and inclusion relate to your foundation’s mission, values, and original purpose.

2. Determine whether your board membership, volunteers, advisory committees, and governance offer opportunities to enhance the foundation’s diversity and inclusiveness.

3. Cultivate an internal culture, policies, and procedures that reflect your foundation’s commitment to diversity and inclusive practices.

4. Hire staff from diverse populations, viewpoints, and experiences.

5. Seek contractors and vendors from diverse backgrounds, communities, and populations.

6. Explore investment options that would support diversity and inclusive practices.

7. Consider and enhance the impact of your foundation’s grantmaking on diverse communities and populations.

8. Consider ways to model inclusive practices and the value of diversity in your role as a philanthropic leader and convener.

9. Assess how your foundation is perceived by the public, especially by diverse populations, grantees, applicants denied funding, and organizations that have not sought funding from your foundation.

10. Share what your foundation is learning about diversity and inclusive practices.


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