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Budgeting for Diversity

Nadia Prescott

When formulating your diversity strategy, you must consider your budget. Yes, your budget. In the corporate world, where money is not a barrier, companies like SAP and Microsoft have created Autism at Work programs. SAP alone has committed to a goal of employing 650 Autistic team members. (Click here to see a video on diversity and inclusion from SAP).

These initiatives are expensive. In the nonprofit world, achieving your diversity goals will impact your financial plans. For example, I have worked with groups with ties to the Deaf community, where boards are required to have a certain percentage of deaf members. As a result, these organizations need to budget for interpreters and regular training for all staff members.

Other organizations may have board or staff members who come from disparate locations. It can be expensive to cover the costs for attending meetings, whether in-person or via technology.

A frank discussion about budget constraints should be part of a larger diversity strategy. Some general points to consider:

  • What is your current diversity policy? If it needs to change, why, and is this the right
    time? Ensure you have team discussions to answer these questions.
  • Be clear on the business reason for diversification. For example, are you expanding
    your network to increase awareness of your mission? Or would you like your
    organization to be more representative of the community you serve?
  • Write your diversification policy and goals into your bylaws. Be ready to adapt this
    as your best business practice.
  • Will your current culture support diversifying your organization? If not, what needs
    to change?
  • Strategically examine the skills gap in your organization at the board and staff level.
    Reach out only to qualified individuals with these skill sets. It’s a mistake to reach
    out to candidates only because they represent communities or demographics you seek.
    Build a team that is culturally competent by ensuring everyone possesses the right
    skills, adds real value, and fully supports your cause.
  • Understand any budget implications.