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.