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Foundation Operations: Communications-> Mission Language-> Diversity Statements

Our foundation would like to develop a diversity statement. Where should we start, and are there examples from other foundations?

In developing a diversity statement, organizations typically first ask themselves some guiding questions:

  • What is our definition of diversity?
  • What characteristics constitute diversity?
  • Will this statement apply to our employment practices, programming, governance or all of these?
  • Do we want to develop a statement or a policy detailing our approach to diversity, from which we will ultimately judge our performance against?

Some foundations, in their role as employers, develop a formal statement of diversity when thinking about its hiring practices. For example, in describing careers at the foundation on its Web site, The California Endowment, states the following: “At The Endowment, we maintain a commitment to respecting diversity. Considerations for different ideas, beliefs, values, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, gender and other factors are an integral part of our decision-making processes”. Similarly, The Cleveland Foundation describes the following under the employment section of its Web site: “The Foundation is committed to fostering a supporting work environment that respects and appreciates diversity in its many forms, including, but not limited to, age, gender, race, national origin, religious beliefs, physical abilities and characteristics, sexual orientation, economic circumstances and lifestyle”.

Some foundations formalize their commitment to diversity as a necessary complement to programming dedicated to improving the health of diverse populations. With a priority area focused on addressing health disparities, the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, Inc. recognized that leadership in this area began at home, with its own policies and practices. The following diversity policy is communicated through the foundation's external communications with its grantees, consultants, and other stakeholders:

Healthcare Georgia Foundation is a private independent foundation whose mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality healthcare for underserved individuals and communities. The Foundation's ability to achieve its goals can best be accomplished if the programs it offers and supports reflect a diversity of perspectives among the Foundation's Board of Directors, staff, consultants, and partners.

Healthcare Georgia Foundation believes that such diversity encompasses, but is not limited to age, gender, race, national origin (ethnicity), religious beliefs, disabilities, sexual orientation, economic circumstances and lifestyle.

The Foundation considers a commitment to diversity as integral to its mission and its pursuit of grantmaking excellence in health. Healthcare Georgia Foundation seeks to collaborate and conduct business with individuals and organizations who share this commitment to diversity, as reflected in the composition of their Boards and staffs and in the programs they implement.

 While foundations will ultimately be judged by their actions toward making the rhetoric about diversity a reality, stating this commitment to others is an important first step in promoting diversity and nondiscrimination within any organization. Even the seemingly simplest action can have an impact on your organization, grantees, colleagues, and the field. And while creating a truly inclusive organization is a challenging task and involves many layers, foundations can start small, with doable steps that will create a momentum for change over time.


Diversity statements and policies

Grantmakers In Health

The Hyams Foundation, Inc.

New York Regional Association of Grantmakers' Policy on Diversity & Inclusiveness




Building on a Better Foundation: A Toolkit for Creating an Inclusive Grantmaking Organization 

Developed by Donors Forum of Chicago, the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Northern California Grantmakers, and New York Regional Association of Grantmakers, this toolkit presents a framework for incorporating inclusiveness and diversity into the structure and operations of grantmaking organizations, as well as questions for discussion and possible action steps.

The Meaning and Impact of Board and Staff Diversity in the Philanthropic Field

Prepared for the Joint Affinity Groups, a national coalition of grantmaker associations, this report states that while philanthropy has made some progress in becoming more diverse, the field still faces many important challenges in addressing diversity.

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