Strengthening boards is an ongoing task. Acknowledging what needs to be done is only the first step.
As Martin Levine asks in NP Quarterly, Diversifying Boards Means Ceding Control – Are White Nonprofit Leaders Ready? It’s an important question, because all the best intentions can be stymied by unconscious fear and discomfort.
Boards react to the realization — or accusations — of a lack of diversity by adding new and ‘different’ board members. Then they wonder why these individuals leave.
Creating a board that reflects the community can’t be the first step. Planning is crucial.
Anticipate that board dynamics may need to change. If you generally govern by consensus, how will you foster the diversity of opinions and ideas that a more diverse board will bring? How will you give the new voices as much weight as the voices of returning board members? How will you include the newer board members in substantive committees, and educate the chairs on dealing with those they might perceive as ‘disrupters’?
Create the conditions for success.
Acknowledge that board dynamics – and control – may need to change, and consider these questions before bringing on new and ‘different’ board members.
Want to talk about having these conversations? Get in touch and we can see what it means for YOUR organization.
And if you see an article that you think it’s important, send it on so we can all benefit from your thoughts. More eyes, more sharing, more knowledge all around!