Program Recap: Attracting, Retaining and Advancing Diverse Talent

Attracting, Retaining, and Advancing Diverse Talent

Systemic racism continues to impede progress for people of color in every profession, including fundraising. Recent studies show that just 19% of employees at nonprofits identify as people of color while 30% of the US identifies as people of color – and only 13% of the Association of Fundraising Professionals members identified as non-white.

On June 3, 2021, a panel gathered to discuss how nonprofit organizations and leaders can effect change and ensure that people of color feel seen, valued, respected, and represented at all levels, including and especially in leadership roles, through strategies for recruitment, retention, and advancement.

Moderated by Zena Lum, Executive Director, Boston Latin Academy Foundation, the panelists, Melany Duval, Senior Vice President and Chief Philanthropy Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Aisha Francis, Ph.D., CEO, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and IIdemaro Gonzalez, Vice President and Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discussed strategies and practices used at their respective organizations to advance equity, inclusion and diversity, while also offering some insights from their own lived experiences.

Tips to attract talent include being transparent about your organization’s commitment to and investment in diversity, equity, and inclusion; leveraging augmented language tools to screen for biases in job descriptions or training HR staff to do the same; screening communications for coded language; changing your sources and talent pools, including partnering with other nonprofits; hosting information sessions since not all job seekers may be familiar with development and the jargon used in the field can be unwelcoming; and being open and flexible. Diverse candidates may also have different perspectives and questions during interviews and may request a conversation with the Chief Diversity Officer.

Professional development opportunities are critically important for retaining diverse talent.  Establishing career pathing programs, offering job shadowing, informal and formal mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, as well as including professional development in staff evaluations are a few of the ways you can improve retention.  Stay interviews are also a helpful tool.

In terms of advancing talent, advice included offering staff special projects; being an open and supportive manager; providing access to information and opportunities for meaningful work; acknowledging contributions and interests; and realizing that sometimes advancement means introducing staff to opportunities in other departments across the organization.

The panelists reported progress at their organizations but did note that aggregate numbers may hide gaps or lags within more senior levels or departments.  To measure if your recruitment efforts are successful, it should be assessed at all levels of management, and what for turnover gaps between staff who self-identify as non-white and staff who self-identify as white.

This program was generously sponsored by CCS Fundraising.

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