Diversity and Inclusion in the Foundation Boardroom – Voices of Diverse Trustees

Debra Weirenga, Council of Michigan Foundations

In this report, diverse individuals who have served on foundation boards share insights and lessons learned from efforts to move their boards beyond diversity of membership to create inclusive and equitable boards. Contained in the report is a Board Discussion Guide to help boards identify, explore, and understand the challenges they face in approaching diversity and inclusion, and develop strategies for overcoming these challenges at each stage of the work.

This report makes a clear distinction between the states of diversity, equity, and inclusion on a board, and outlines why and how organizations can push their boards to create not just a diverse environment, but an inclusive one as well. The report encourages organizations to evaluate how their formal and informal norms and dynamics can help or hinder their inclusion efforts, and unlike other resources on this topic, it emphasizes that board members must show bravery when discussing topics that may be uncomfortable for them and offensive to others. Board leadership must tolerate some personal discomfort, and model a level of trust and willingness to address difficult topics that may be disproportionately affecting underrepresented communities, in order to identify ways the board can help these diverse populations. The personal narratives weaved into this report reinforce the key takeaways and make the arguments that much more convincing.

Global Topics: Race, Equity, and Inclusion
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Resource Types: Publication