Diversity in Non-Profit Organizations Research Study

The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace is the culmination of a nationwide survey of over 1,600 nonprofit professionals and was produced in partnership with Commongood Careers and released April 12, 2011.

The report reveals that perceptions of diversity and inclusiveness play a significant role in recruitment and retention of employees, particularly employees of color. As one African American male respondent summarized: “Nonprofits need to make it clear that diversity is important and that they are willing to take actions to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. It’s that commitment to action that built my trust in my employer.”

“Until the disconnect between value and action is addressed, there will continue to be negative implications for attracting and retaining diverse employees across the nonprofit sector,” said Level Playing Field Institute Executive Director Robert Schwartz, Ed.D. “Diversity commitments must move beyond a tagline on a website, and must be followed by specific and strategic actions implemented in order to ensure that diversity becomes a reality within organizations.”

Key findings include:

  • Nearly 90% of employees believe that their organization values diversity. However, more than 70% believe that their employer does not do enough to create a diverse and inclusive work environment.
  • More than half of employees of all races – and 71% of employees of color — attempt to evaluate a prospective employer’s commitment to diversity during the interview process.
  • More than 35% of people of color who indicated that they examine diversity during the hiring process report having previously withdrawn candidacy or declined a job offer due to a perceived lack of diversity and inclusiveness.

The report provides five strategies for organizations to shift from just valuing diversity to building and sustaining diversity. They include:

  1. open conversations about race that include executive leadership,
  2. effective communications about diversity commitments that include measured results,
  3. building partnerships and networks that facilitate effective recruiting,
  4. a hiring process free from subtle bias, and
  5. taking the time to develop, mentor and promote a diverse staff.

“As the economy improves, nonprofits will compete more than ever before for top talent. Organizations that fail to address diversity issues will see a steep drop off in their ability to recruit and retain their talent, not just their employees of color,” said James Weinberg, Founder and CEO of Commongood Careers. “Nonprofits are at a unique moment in time to implement change. If they don’t, they may lose out to other employers who have made intentional efforts to increase and embrace staff diversity.”

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View Executive Summary