Do You Understand Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Is So Important?

diversity and inclusion important

A few years back I was engaged to do strategy work for a cultural organization that focused on the Tibetan community. Not a single board member had any connection to this community. There was no advisory board so that the organization could deeply understand the culture and the needs of the community.

I thought an analogy might help them see that this was deeply problematic. So I asked them to imagine an African American community center with no African American board members or any people at all who might represent them. I felt sure I would create a powerful aha moment about the importance of board diversity.

Instead, I had one.

Several of them said they could totally imagine that — and that board service is all about skills and wealth and wealth adjacency.

Honestly, if I had asked that question and heard that answer when originally discussing the engagement, I would not have taken the organization’s money. I didn’t ask enough questions about this board’s composition and values.

I should have.

The nonprofit sector model is deeply flawed. For the most part, power rests in the hands of largely male, largely affluent white people. For the most part, organizations are too far removed from the communities they serve.

Today I’d like to talk about things that are troubling me and a few reasons why nonprofit organizations MUST engage in work around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Nonprofits, Leadership, and the Great Resignation

Last December over 4 million Americans quit their jobs. The Great Resignation (also known as the Big Quit) is here and it’s the real deal. And, as the third biggest driver of our economy — just behind retail and food service and before American manufacturing — the nonprofit sector is not immune to its effects.

So, what’s behind this ongoing trend? Well, there are tons of theories floating around.

Some are leaving roles in search of higher wages to keep up with the rising cost of living. Others are leaving roles that put them at a greater risk on contracting COVID-19. There are also people who are leaving roles in search of work that brings them a greater sense of meaning and purpose.

Whatever a person’s individual reasons are for joining the Great Resignation, there seems to be a common theme among those who are searching for more than what their previous roles could offer — a lack of job satisfaction.

Whether someone is working for a nonprofit or a for-profit organization, according to psychologist, Daniel Pink, there are three key factors that influence overall job satisfaction.

Click play below to learn what they are. I also share some advice on how to reduce employee turnover, keep your people close during the Great Resignation, and transform your organization into a workplace of choice.

Watch & learn:

  • How is the Great Resignation impacting the nonprofit sector?
  • What are the three biggest drivers of job satisfaction?
  • How can nonprofit leaders reduce turnover among those working for nonprofits?

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What to Expect From Me in 2022

Welcome to 2022, nonprofit leaders! To be honest, I am usually not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions — but these are not usual times…

This year marks nearly two years since the start of the global pandemic that rocked our worlds and brought on the biggest cultural shift many of us have seen in our lifetimes. Full stop.

As we dive headfirst into another year of the nonprofit sector’s new normal, the services offered by organizations all across the globe are needed now more than ever before. And, we all have a big fat opportunity right now to help lead our fellow humans through these uncertain times and help shape the future of nonprofits around the world.

It is so important to approach this opportunity with intention and have a clear direction for your nonprofit goals.

That is why I decided to take some time to reflect on my role when it comes to supporting your nonprofit goals in 2022 — and I have uncovered what I believe is my most important mission for the upcoming year.

In this short video, I share how I plan to help our sector reduce one of the most common problems faced by nonprofit organizations. So, click play to find out what I want you to hold me accountable to in 2022.

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Joan’s Top 5 Nonprofit Leadership Blog Posts of 2021

nonprofit leadership

Each of you began this year bleary-eyed.

On January 1, 2021, you were just coming off the heels of one of the most disruptive years the nonprofit sector has ever seen. Every year puts nonprofit leaders to this test, and this was never more true than in the year 2020.

The onset of the (still ongoing) global pandemic shook up our worlds, and it probably took everything you had to stay afloat.

But 2021 was just supposed to be the next day on the calendar. The vaccine presented a glimmer of hope that somehow things would return to “normal” when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day.

But most of the world did not yet have access. So it was more of the same.

On top of that, with our global economy still reeling from the pandemic’s lasting effects, this year brought an unbelievable need for your services.

So you did what nonprofit leaders do — you summoned energy you didn’t even think you had and made the decision to focus on the fundamentals.

You kept close tabs on your budget. You sought new ways to engage your board. You searched for resources where you could find them and found creative ways to bring more dollars in.

And you did all this in the service of a mission that means everything to you.

I know from all the emails and comments that I have gotten over the past year, that so many of you turned to the resources here on my blog for help. And for that, I am so grateful.

It has been a privilege to offer you advice and suggestions to help fuel your ability to work towards your mission and do your very best as a nonprofit leader and manager.

There are 5 resources in particular that nonprofit leaders like you found most valuable. As you prepare to head into the year 2022 (can you believe we’re almost 2 years out from 2020?) I thought it might be helpful to do a recap.

Check out this list and give them a quick read. They just might inspire some new ideas or insights that you can take into the new year.

Drumroll please…
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How Even Workaholic Bosses Can Promote Workplace Self Care

workplace self care

I woke up this Monday morning and thought to myself: “Awesome! I got a lot done this weekend because we didn’t have any company.

Seriously Joan?

We are now well into the first summer after a terrifying pandemic in which seeing friends and family—typically an antidote for terror—was actually risky.

Now fully vaxxed, my house on the Jersey shore has been filled with the sounds of laughter, kids splashing in the pool, sandy feet, and corn on the cob.

In fact, here’s a picture of the remaining Garry originals after a hearty 4th of July dinner:

How great to be with people again!

With this image in mind, how could not having company be something to celebrate?

Well, when you’re a workaholic, having company interferes with your weekend activities. I know many of you will actually know exactly what I mean.

After all, I coach clients all the time on how their workaholic tendencies create cultures of stress in their organizations. Say all you want about how you promote workplace self care, but if you have ever sent an email at 5:55am on a Saturday, you have obliterated your credibility on the topic.

But I also know that you are overworked and that there might be reasons why you work odd hours. That’s why I’m writing this post. (I’m also writing it to remind myself to SNAP OUT OF IT!)

I have the simplest of tricks for you to try that I learned from my nephew during our wonderful 4th of July weekend together. This quick tip will help you encourage a culture of understanding and promote self care in your workplace.

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Balance Sheet? Income Statement? But I’m Not a Numbers Person!

hating the balance sheet

Thirty years ago, when I was an executive at Showtime Networks, I worked to get a pay-per-view business off the ground. Crunching numbers was a part of my work. I was not a CPA and did not have an MBA. Never took a class on budgeting or balance sheets.

And yet, for some reason, numbers have never made me anxious. In fact I was quite good at helping other execs make sense of the numbers. So good, in fact, that I was deployed for nine months to educate the members of the finance department on how to bring the numbers to life – to make them matter to the heads of business units – so they could make better decisions based on the stories the numbers told.

Ooops. I think I just leaked the moral of this story, the lesson in this post.

Have you ever felt the “heaviness of the lids”? I bet you have.

You know, that dozing sensation you get when you listen to a budget or finance presentation? That feeling that leads you to daydream about that thing you have to do for that person that you forgot to do yesterday?

Yeah, that. Let’s cure that once and for all. It’s time to get serious about bringing numbers to life.
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Is Your To-Do List Mocking You?

to-do list

Cindy Pereira basically runs my business.

She also produces my podcast and entertains me all day long. And I’m really lucky. I know it.

To know Cindy is to know that she is ambitious, and she gets more done in a day than any human I know.

But there are still things she just doesn’t get to.

One day I’m at her desk and a reminder pops up on her screen. Just two words:

Write novel.

I was weak with laughter. She returns to the office and I can’t even talk, I’m laughing so hard. I point to the reminder. She says, “Oh yeah, I have had that daily reminder for like years.”

Today I am not going to talk about your big hairy audacious aspiration and how to get it done.

I want to talk about those things on your to-do list that just keep showing up. They have been there for what feels like years. They never make it to the top of the list. You’re not putting them off because they are super hard, like “Call angry donor”.

These are regular things you are supposed to do. Every time you look at the to-do list they are there. Right where you want them.

At the bottom of the list.

For me, it’s “Update Database Contacts”. I see it on the list and I swear it’s staring back at me, judging me. I try to ignore it.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

If I asked you if they were important, you’d say “Yes, BUT”. Yes, BUT I first need to focus on the IMPORTANT stuff higher up on the to-do list. And it happens again tomorrow. And the day after. The week after. The YEAR after.

Is there a way out? You can’t just take it off the list. You can’t really delegate it either. The task matters and you’re the one who has to do it.

Can you imagine how amazing it will feel to be able to cross one of these off?

I have some advice. I have conquered one of these beasts recently – cleaning up my contact database – and I believe my recipe could really help you.

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It’s Time We Stop Treating Tech As Overhead

tech as overhead

I’m moderating a panel at an upcoming conference sponsored by Salesforce. They have some serious star power at this conference. Dr. Jane Goodall, Leslie Odom Jr, Amal Clooney.

And me.

Trying to squelch my imposter syndrome I recorded a panel last week with some fabulous nonprofit leaders. I was asked to moderate and we talked about tech.

We talked about what the nonprofit sector learned about tech in 2020 and what leaders need to do with that lesson in 2021.

In a prep conversation, I told the panelists about a client who, pre-pandemic, saw tech as being under the Director of Operations on the org chart along with HR and Finance. But as he moved through 2020, he saw that virtual learning was a vital part of his programmatic offerings and always should have been. By year end, his young and creative tech guy was a member of the senior team.

Time for a rant and a call to action.

We have pigeonholed tech as an operations function for way way too long. And because of how we have seen it, funders have seen it that way. Under that four letter word that is actually eight letters, OVERHEAD.

So today, let’s talk about one of the biggest things that should NEVER EVER go back to the way things were in our sector. Treating tech as overhead.

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Do You Have an “Oil Can” Problem?

oil can problem

One aspect of 2020 that I think is overlooked is that the year brought out the adrenaline junkie that lives at or just below the surface of every nonprofit leader. The fixer, the problem solver, the person prepared to do whatever it takes.

My clients and members of our Nonprofit Leadership Lab are heroic every day but never more than the 365 days (or if you are a musical theatre fan, 525,600 minutes) of 2020. (Yes, I realize 2020 was a leap year, but I refuse to give it any more days. 2020 was long enough!)

You fixed, you problem solved, you leaped tall buildings in single bounds (nod to your Superman tendencies).

How are you feeling right about now?

A few months into a year in which you are probably feeling more optimistic (nothing like seeing ‘shots in arms’ to offer a shot in the arm for all of us).

But you’re really really tired right?

My daughter Kit had febrile seizures as a toddler that demanded an ambulance and an E.R. visit. Fortunately she grew out of them after age 3 but when they happened, they were scary as hell and we did whatever it took to keep Kit calm.

Not just Kit – her twin brother and her older sister too. We tried our best to keep calm while Kit’s seizure was on full display. We learned the drill and an ice bath in the E.R. settled things down quickly. We’d head home.

And Kit was all smiles, we’d tuck her into bed. And then Eileen (my wife) and I would fall totally and completely apart.

But not before having some kind of argument with each other about who knows what. Or going way overboard, criticizing our other kids about something that could barely qualify as inappropriate or even worth noting.

I see this behavior in my clients. Lots of misbehavior, uncivilized behavior towards one another, lots of misdirected anger. The craziness at home is now beginning to feel even more intolerable now that we can see glimmers of light about where 2021 might end.

It’s like me and Eileen after Kit was tucked into bed all smiles.

We were big ol’ messes.

I have some advice. Definitely not about parenting. But about how to lead when the adrenaline rush wears off. And about what I call an “oil can” problem.

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Don’t Start the New Year Without Having 3 Important Conversations First

important conversations

One very hot summer afternoon, we took our eldest daughter, Scout, to a local circus. She was maybe 3 and had slept during the ride there. We took this adorable sweaty groggy kid into a really noisy tent, paid for our three tickets, bought some popcorn and took our seats.

It was exciting. Well we were excited – she was dazed and confused.

Until… the first act. Out rolls a cannon. A man climbs in. Another man detonates the pretend wick and BBBBBOOOOOM. The man flies out of the cannon and lands in a net some distance away.

Scout reacted with sheer terror; as if she herself had been ejected from the bleachers. She ran as fast as she could out of the tent. Followed by her two mothers certain she had been scarred for life by a well-intended afternoon at the circus.

Once she had calmed down and started breathing again, she asked a single question. And then she asked it again. And again. And again. For the entire ninety minute ride home.

Her question was simple. “Why’d they shoot dat guy out da cannon?”

And presumably our answers simply were not cutting it. Answers like, “People think it’s fun,” or “That’s what circus performers do,” fell on deaf ears. These answers offered no solace.

In her quite logical mind, the whole thing seemed unfathomable. Someone suggested to ‘dat guy’ that he get into that cannon so that it could be detonated and ‘dat guy’ could fly through the air into a net that was really far away.

And ‘dat guy’ said YES.

Are you wondering where I am going with this? It’s not a story about what lousy parents we are. It’s a story about ‘dat guy.’ And it’s a story about you.

You have just returned from some kind of holiday break after one of the most tragic and terrifying years in American history. Maybe you took a legit break and maybe there was a novel or a board game or an extra nap. And now you are back at work.

You open your laptop and before you is an imaginary cannon. And you are ‘dat guy’

You can agree to begin 2021 by making an intentional decision to be shot out of a cannon. Endless to-do’s. Everything is a priority. So much noise. Stress. Anxiety.

Or… you can take a different path. Today, I’ll offer you suggestions about three very important conversations you need to have this month.

And I’ll give you one piece of advice before we get started.

Say no to the cannon.
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