Giving Compass' Take:

• Philanthropic organizations can improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in their ranks and in their work by following these three guidelines. 

• What is the state of diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization? What is a measurable, achievable, short-term goal to improve in these areas?  

• Find out what questions you should be asking about diversity, equity, and inclusion

Over the past several months, philanthropy has faced rising criticism for its lack of transparency or accountability, perpetuation of wealth inequality, and preservation of a system of exploitation. As Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker reminds us, this critique is not new: Decades ago, Martin Luther King Jr. warned philanthropists not to “overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”

One way in which these injustices have played out is in philanthropy’s failure to hire or fund people of color. Less than 5 percent of foundation CEOs are diverse leaders, and just 4 percent of grants and contributions go to diverse-led organizations.

These bleak statistics have many leaders—including ourselves—trying to do better. To find our way forward, we’ve convened dozens of funders over the past year to discuss how to improve our efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Three guidelines have emerged:

1.  Re-define Risk: Funders often label funding applicants as risky because they lack data to show their impact or don't have a degree from certain universities. Such an assessment fails in a major way: It doesn't incorporate the value of a leader’s ties to the communities they serve and experience in the field.

2.  Emphasize Trust: Trust is a key ingredient to building processes that favor diversity, equity, and inclusion. Yet lengthy grant applications and extensive reporting requirements for nonprofits imply a lack of trust. They also disproportionately affect diverse leaders, who may lack connections or face a double standard due to implicit biases.

3. Reflect the Community: While there has been a push for nonprofits to be more transparent about their staff, philanthropy has remained mostly silent about the diversity of its teams and portfolios.

Read the full article about diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy by Brittany Boettcher and Kathleen Kelly Janus at Stanford Social Innovation Review.