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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

How can diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce strengthen a nonprofit’s mission?


Nonprofits today are confronted with a plenitude of changes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in their sector. As the nation navigates the pandemic and the multitude of ongoing political conflicts, nonprofits are now more than ever expected to deliver on DEI efforts.

For example, less talk – more action will be the mindset as internal and external stakeholders look to the social sector for leadership in the DEI movement. Many believe that DEI efforts can be a driving force in promoting innovative ways for problem solving, recruiting and retaining top talent, and bridging the gap between nonprofits and the communities they serve.

In addition, another reason that DEI can help strengthen an organization's mission specifically comes in the form of accountability. Nonprofits are expected to “be better” and “to lead by example”, which conveys that, as a sector, organizations will be looked to for calling out problematic behaviors that do not align with equity and justice. Nonprofits are working hard to sustain missions, grow and excel in their goals. In order to achieve that, however, it is imperative that they incorporate DEI into those same goals.

According to The National Council of Nonprofits, "embracing diversity, equity and inclusion as organizational values is a way to intentionally make space for positive outcomes to flourish, whether in direct services or in the nonprofit capacity building or public policy spheres." Therefore, it is apparent that DEI can assist organizations in successful deliverance of their mission.

Expand programming – A broader awareness of participant needs, the public's trust in nonprofits' abilities to provide quality service, and tailored successful programming will open up nonprofit funding opportunities.

Reduce the skills gap – Raising levels of education and other capabilities are important for success in the workplace, and it will narrow the skills gap between employer demand and available talent.

Become a more desirable place to work – As we all can attest, nonprofits are often working with limited resources. Nonprofit professionals understand this, and as the next generation of leaders enter the sector, they will be looking for incentives that go beyond monetary, such as working-from-home or hybrid options, flexible schedules, and the opportunity to have autonomy over their work.

Implementation – Present a formal case to the board, educate and define Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, assess current DEI efforts, and take action.

Furthermore, racial inequalities exist in all facets of life, and nonprofits are no exception. Nonprofits need to do more than open the door for diverse staffing, but rather need to create a platform for change that encompasses all stakeholders' values and perspectives.

Amber Amaro is a 2021 graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University. She has spent almost a decade in nonprofit administration and development specializing in donor relations and systems management working for organizations such as PBS SoCal, Skirball Cultural Center, the Colburn School and more. She is currently the Senior Manager, Individual Giving at Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. Amber enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with her husband and two young sons.


ASU Lodestar Center Blog