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Diversity Planning

Diversity and inclusion plan template for volunteer boards


Diversity and inclusion are important issues for all organizations to consider, but it’s fair to say they’re especially important for mission-driven and nonprofit organizations because of how closely these organizations are connected with their communities. If your board is willing to make a commitment to diversity and inclusion, you’ll find that it will pay off big as it leads to better discussions, decisions and outcomes.

Your donors and other stakeholders will certainly take note of any new initiatives that involve diversity and inclusion, and the people that your nonprofit serves will appreciate of your efforts as well.

If you’re wondering how to get started, we’ll walk you through the steps of creating a diversity and inclusion plan, how to use a planning template and how to leverage the right technology to support your efforts.

How to define diversity and inclusion

Let’s define diversity and inclusion before we get into the specifics of using a diversity and inclusion plan template.

What is diversity? If you thought about things like gender, race, or religion, you’d be partially correct. Diversity encompasses all the characteristics that make each person unique. For example, people’s mindsets, identities, career choices, hobbies, lifestyles, and even personalities play a role in diversity. All of these things shape who we are and how we form our beliefs and perspectives about the world around us.

Inclusion is often connected with diversity, but it has an entirely different meaning. Inclusion refers to the idea that all people have a right to be respected and valued regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or other characteristics.

Together, diversity and inclusion are powerful partners. Something that makes the issue of diversity and inclusion so challenging is that some people believe that it exists when it actually doesn’t. That’s why it’s important for your board to document your organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by establishing policies and practices that publicly support it.

A common metaphor that some people use is that diversity means getting an invitation while inclusion means being allowed to participate. When a diverse group of individuals joins together for a common purpose, everyone has a greater investment in the cause.

Why are diversity and inclusion important in the nonprofit sector?

Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on the people within their communities to fill board seats and serve as employees, donors, and volunteers. Communities are diverse and making a true commitment to diversity and inclusion will earn your organization deeper trust and a stronger commitment from your stakeholders.

These are some of the other things your nonprofit stands to gain when you develop a plan for diversity and inclusion:

  • Increased employee satisfaction
  • Higher employee and volunteer engagement
  • Stronger collaboration
  • Greater problem-solving
  • Unleashing creativity and new ideas
  • Greater potential for growth
  • An openness to innovation

Let’s get started with the next steps in the diversity and inclusion plan process.

Steps in the diversity and inclusion plan process

It will be helpful for your board or committee to begin with a little preplanning for the diversity and inclusion plan by reviewing the following 10 steps:

  1. Write out a purpose statement outlining the reasons for developing an inclusion and diversity policy and plan.
  2. Establish guiding principles for how you will approach the process.
  3. Build a framework for who will lead the process and see it through to completion.
  4. Review various frameworks and models of established diversity and inclusion templates and plans.
  5. Establish a plan to communicate your final diversity and inclusion plan to stakeholders.
  6. Develop a timeline with projected dates for each portion of the planning process.
  7. Create goals, objectives, and action steps from start to finish.
  8. Establish how you will measure the completion of each goal.
  9. Establish standards for accountability.
  10. Establish a plan for how to promote your successes.

With the preliminary work completed, your board or committee is ready to start using a diversity and inclusion plan template to begin the deeper work.

Diversity and inclusion plan template for volunteer boards

As you work on your diversity and inclusion plan, our free diversity and inclusion plan template is ready for you to use and adapt to your specific organization’s needs. Download the template now to make your diversity and inclusion planning even more streamlined.

diversity and inclusion plan

Using your board management software to support your plan

Your BoardEffect board portal is the perfect tool for creating an effective diversity and inclusion plan. Your board or committee will be able to communicate and share files within the safety and security of the platform. Members will be able to make notes and changes directly on the template and highlight the changes as well. When your work is completed, you can send the final plan to the full board for review, discussion, and approval.

Remember, just trust the process. How invested you are in creating a diversity and inclusion plan will be reflected in your final product. Also, remember to be inclusive in the process. Recruit a diverse group of individuals to help you get the work done. Creating a culture of diversity and inclusiveness takes time, so be willing to give it the time you need to cultivate it. Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your success with a special event that focuses on diversity and inclusion.

BoardEffect is designed with the unique needs of volunteer boards in mind. Our nonprofit board management software streamlines board processes, enhances and delivers secure communication, helping you to become an efficient and effective board. It offers a centralized place for setting goals, tracking and reporting on key DE&I metrics, and ensuring transparency and accountability. Request a demo today to find out more.

Jill Holtz

Jill is a Content Strategy Manager at Diligent. Her strategy background and content expertise working across a variety of sectors, including education, non-profit and with local government partners, allows her to provide unique insights for organizations looking to achieve modern governance.

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