Diversity is much more than simply a question of fairness or appearances.
Lack of diversity both on the board and in staffing represents a missed opportunity to bring in new thinking, insights and experience. Lack of diversity impacts negatively on decision-making, service delivery, culture, finance and promotion. Indeed, culturally homogenous organisations are at a disadvantage as they face significant blind spots in developing their organisations future strategies.
More than recruitment
But a policy of diversity in recruitment is alone not enough. It must be accompanied by inclusion and a real commitment to developing a culture that genuinely welcomes, values, and leverages the advantages of diversity.
All to often the faces are diverse, but the systems, processes and management style remain stubbornly Eurocentric and patriarchal in design.
Diversity is demonstrated in partnership
Let me provide something from my own experience. As the Executive Director of TEAR Fund NZ I had an ex-officio status on our board of trustees. In order to increase an inclusive participation we sought and appointed a highly respected Maori trustee with huge experience in the community sector.