Attention to diversity seen improving

Grantmakers in Minnesota are doing a better job of encouraging inclusiveness in their organizations, although the diversity of their staffs has not changed, a new study says.

The report, Working Towards Diversity III, is the third five-year study analyzing the progress Minnesota foundations are making toward inclusiveness in philanthropy.

Conducted by the Minnesota Council on Foundations in Minneapolis, the study says more than four in 10 grantmakers surveyed have developed formal diversity policies, up 20 percent from 1995 and 2000.

While a prior study found that foundation staff tended to spur the creation of formal policies, the new report says the role of boards is increasing, with more than six in 10 groups saying board members are a crucial factor.

Implementing a hiring policy that encourages diversity is the best way to increase inclusiveness, many funders say, but training is also critical in developing a culture that values diversity.

Almost half the survey respondents try to bolster diversity in their community interactions, an improvement over the last decade, the study says.

They do that through methods such as including making communications appropriate for diverse groups, and designating funds to be targeted to diverse communities.

While funders have made progress in implementing diversity strategies, there has been virtually no change in the diversity of the staffs of Minnesota grantmakers over the last five years, the study says.

Diversity among paid staff of foundations and corporate grantmakers is lower than that of the state’s population as a whole, the report says, but diversity among boards is higher than the national philanthropic community.

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