This is interesting and something I too have noticed here in Ottawa.
This quote from the second article you shared sums it up for me…
It’s simple: the more diverse the group discussing the problem is, the more comprehensive, sustainable, and creative the solutions are.
The lack of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in Canada’s nonprofit environmental space boils down to two main issues for me: 1. DEI of those directing the organization and 2. Giving a voice to beneficiaries & stakeholders.
1. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the Board of Directors:
What I’ve noticed on the ground is that participants of non-profit programs are often far more diverse and with a much different lived experience than the board members of the nonprofits delivering those programs. It’s not just a difference in race but also a difference in diversity, capacity and wealth.
It makes sense that a struggling young farmer or struggling single parent would not have the capacity to serve on a board to help direct the programming intended to serve individuals such as themselves. Are there examples in Ontario where homeless youth have a seat or two on the board of their local mission, or a board member (or two) of a local United Way have recent lived experience of using & benefiting directly from their programs or housing first initiatives? Charitable law prevents board members from benefiting directly from a program while serving on the board. However, I personally would be far more likely to donate more money to a poverty alleviation charity which has few current (or recent) clients on their board of directors than a board which consists entirely of wealthy CEOs & VPs.
Thea, that article about taking a community benefits approach is interesting and I wonder how similar thinking could be applied to a community benefits approach to building a diverse board of directors.
The closest I’ve seen here in Ottawa is Diversity in Governance. There’s also Diversity on Board for Vancouver, the GTA, and a few other Cities.
2. Giving a voice to beneficiaries & stakeholders.
This is the hardest and most challenging for the environmental movement.
Birds of a feather do flock together and if environmental organizations can not find ways to improve human diversity among their ranks and create inclusive programs alongside the communities that need it most, there’s little hope that we’ll be of much use to our non-human beneficiaries & environmental stakeholders…
It is difficult to fill a room with struggling single parents to discuss solutions at a workshop or find half a dozen struggling farmers willing to drive into the city to make decisions at regular board meetings. However, it is next to impossible to get an endangered blanding’s turtle to join your board or a flock of starving migratory birds to participate in a workshop. The closest I’ve seen here in Ottawa were annual mass protests involving involuntary injury & death at Ottawa City Hall… but again, that group too lacked diversity as it was just a [bunch of Bohemian’s (34 dead, 12 injured)].(http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/after-30-birds-died-in-a-mass-casualty-at-ottawa-city-hall-officials-have-covered-up-glass-walkway)