The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people. It is important to note that while an inclusive group is by definition diverse, a diverse group isn’t always inclusive. Recognition of unconscious and hidden bias helps organizations to be thoughtful in addressing issues of inclusivity.
Four key arguments make the case for diversity, equity, and inclusion in AWO:
The market case states that organizations will better serve their customers if they reflect the diversity of their market base. A dramatic demographic shift is under way in the U.S., which will be majority non-white around 2043 according to the Census Bureau. In the private sector, companies such as Deloitte recognize the buying power of minority populations and highlight that diversity is critical to growing market share and bottom line.
In the nonprofit sector, clients are our customers, and they want to see themselves represented in the organizations that serve them. And organizations with diverse leadership are more likely to understand the needs of a diverse client base. Donors are also customers, and organizations and their clients can benefit from the resources of different groups.
The moral and social justice case asserts that each person has value to contribute and that we must address barriers and historical factors that have led to unfair conditions for marginalized populations. Nonprofits are created to improve society and as such they should be diverse, inclusive, and equitable.
The economic case is based on the idea that organizations that tap into diverse talent pools are stronger and more efficient. Economists see discrimination as economic inefficiency—the result of a systematic misallocation of human resources. In fact, the Center For American Progress finds that workplace discrimination against employees based on race, gender or sexual orientation costs businesses an estimated $64 billion annually. That amount represents the annual estimated cost of losing and replacing more than 2 million American workers who leave their jobs each year due to unfairness and discrimination. In this argument, organizations should become more diverse and inclusive because it makes economic sense to leverage the talent pools of different populations.
The results case is that diverse teams lead to better outputs. Scott Page, author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies, uses mathematical modeling and case studies to show how diversity leads to increased productivity. His research found that diverse groups of problem solvers outperform the groups of the best individuals at solving problems. Diverse nonprofit organizations, and the diversity of perspectives within them, will lead to better solutions to social problems.