As an individual who is passionate about issues of diversity, I often assess organizations’ engagement in issues of diversity.  For example, I am interested in the demographic break-down of the board, staff, volunteers, clients, donors, and other supporters.  I also like to review relevant policies and procedures, as well as obtain an understanding of the organizational culture.

My focus, however, cannot always be external – reviewing organizations.  I must also turn inward.  So, I have started with assessing my professional and personal network of contacts.  I encourage you to do the same.

1. Make a list of people you know, including current and former:  neighbors, colleagues, fellow volunteers, bosses, friends, etc.

2. Then, determine how you measure up.

  • Are all sectors represented:  government, nonprofit, and for-profit?
  • Are various industries included:  healthcare, finance, real estate, service, and more?
  • Are there differences in cultural upbringing, worldviews, and life experiences?
  • Is there diversity in the demographic characteristics, like age, race, gender, religion, and socio-economic status?

3. If you have a gap, determine strategies to address it.  Here are some examples on how to expand the depth and breadth of your network:

  • Nonprofit professional, go to business networking events that corporate professionals attend.
  • Subscribe to a blog for a profession with which you are unfamiliar.
  • Be intentional in cultivating relationships with people who don’t think or believe like you do.
  • Find opportunities to reach out to new contacts by reviewing local publications predominantly read by different cultural communities.

What strategies do you implement to create a professional network that is diverse?  Please leave a coment with your idea.

Want to know more about diversity and the nonprofit sector?  Check out my previous blog post, Starting Point in Diversity.

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