Before we plunge into the practical “how-to” ideas, let’s consider a few often-ignored questions: Why are we even having this conversation? Why does board diversity matter? Some of the answers might be philosophical, ethical, equity- or values-based, others might be quantifiable, statistical, evidence-based, but every nonprofit organization must find its own answers to these questions.
On the heels of Black History Month and at the beginning of Women’s History Month, it is not lost on me that we need to celebrate diversity now more than ever. And it is important that we do not relegate our recognition of the contribution of Blacks and women to just one month.
Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The symbol, based on the mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backwards, serves as a reminder that the past serves as a guide for planning the future. It is the wisdom of looking back to look forward.
Diversity has been a core value of Alford Group for our 41-year history and we recently renewed our commitment to fostering and creating adaptive cultures that are more inclusive and equitable in our work as a firm, with our clients and in the entire social sector. We are elevating equity-centered philanthropy as intentional action toward changing the structures, roles, processes, representation and practices that perpetuate inequities in how organizations communicate, engage and build relationships to support philanthropic endeavors.
With the current events of the past five months, the world is learning how to overcome the discomfort of talking about race and are having some real courageous conversations on how we can move forward together to create lasting change for people of color. This change will create a ripple effect where others who have been marginalized will benefit and increase their ability to thrive as well – no one is left behind.
At Alford Group, diversity is one of our core values and we are proud to have been the diversity partner with AFP and the AFP Foundation for the past 17 years. We hosted this year’s AFP Diversity Session, “Foundations Empowering Change: Not Business As Usual,” which featured a facilitator and panelists who are committing funds, insights, counsel, social capital, time and other resources toward building diversity, equity, and inclusion in their own organizations and the organizations with which they partner. They are: