Not by representational diversity alone… 

Jacob John

A commitment to diversity that includes race, caste, class, gender and religion is a central part of philanthropic programme effectiveness. With such representational diversity increasingly being used as a reference point, this article suggests that, while a growing articulation of different viewpoints in boards and management rooms is important, just as critical is promoting inclusiveness as a theme and ensuring a seamless connection between the values of the organization and its functioning.

Historical injustices against particular groups have prevented their full participation in the economic, social and cultural traditions of a society or exerted subtler forms of control. They have caused many to suggest that it is time to actively consider how to create a more inclusive environment.

Working with a broad diversity of stakeholders is now widely accepted as a method to improve outcomes within programmes. The experiences of the marginalized, so runs the argument, need to be brought to the forefront by including people with these experiences within both the management and the boards of philanthropic organizations.  

However, their representation or inclusion by itself is not a guarantee of an organization’s inclusiveness. What is also needed is an inclusive agenda that permeates all aspects of the organization’s culture and operation.

Next Special feature to read

From diversity to representation – a road map for foundations 

Jenny Oppenheimer