Discussion Forum Notes: September 8, 2011: Hiring from Diverse Communities


On September 8 2011, The Denver Foundation's Inclusiveness Project hosted a discussion forum on the topic of "Hiring from Diverse Communities." The session was organized by members of the Inclusiveness Collaborative, a group of Metro Denver nonprofit organizations interested in intentionally building inclusiveness within their organizations. This was the fifth in a series of six discussion forums. The Inclusiveness Collaborative grew out of The Denver Foundation's first learning community, which began in 2006 with a cohort of eleven participating organizations.

Over twenty-five people were in attendance, representing the following organizations:  Art Students League, Child Advocates, Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Youth at Risk, The Delores Project, Doctors Care, Family Tree, Growing Home, Kids in Need of Dentistry, Mental Health Corporation of America (MHCA), Open Media Foundation, Partnership for Colorado Families and Children, Project PAVE,  Project WISE, Rocky Mountain Housing Development Corporation (RMHDC), Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP).

Inclusive Collaborative members Lonnie McCabe and Karen Terry welcomed the group. Karen also asked the group to consider an action item from today's session, such as a job fair. The Denver Foundation's Inclusiveness Project and the Inclusiveness Collaborative are considering if a job fair might be a next step on this topic. Consideration of a job fair was set for the latter part of the gathering.

The session started with participants introducing themselves by name and sharing their organization's mission and their needs regarding hiring from diverse communities. Carolyn Love facilitated the session.

Following are highlights of the introductory piece:

  • We have been successful in recruiting (persons of color), but have trouble retaining (persons of color); we can't be competitive on salary (with other employment opportunities).
  • We want to provide leadership development to staff to help them grow in their profession; this is a retention strategy.
  • Where do we go to recruit people of color?
  • It feels unethical to not have a diverse staff.
  • I get so many resumes for every position I post.
  • I don't know if a job applicant is diverse until he/she walks in the door; some of our staff tries to guess if a job applicant is diverse based on his/her name.
  • It is not just about doing the right thing, but about furthering our mission.
  • I'm concerned to figure out how we get to know people and have people know us so that we can create a pipeline of persons of color interested in working in the nonprofit sector.
  • I might not be able to retain a staff member because we have few advancement opportunities.
  • I wonder if we are an organization where a person of color would like to work at, and if we aren't, what can we do to make it a place where a person of color would like to work at?
  • We have good hiring policies, but a problem finding people with the skill sets and the maturity level required.


After the introductory round, the group divided into three smaller discussion groups, each one focusing on one of the themes that had been spoken to in the large-group discussion:

  • Organizational culture: what does an inclusive organization's culture look like?
  • A pipeline of persons of color
  • True inclusivity vs. tokenism


The three groups reported out to the larger group, as follows:

Organizational culture

  • Let's look at inclusiveness to solve diversity problems and issues rather than looking at diversity to solve inclusiveness problems and issues.

True inclusivity vs. tokenism

  • Inclusiveness is compatible with high quality.


  • Let's take the long view, big picture of a pipeline (i.e., collaborate sector-wide).
  • Let's connect with the larger community to build awareness of opportunities in the nonprofit sector (e.g., for-profit businesses, colleges, the military, freelancers, Colorado Nonprofit Association, Society for Human Resource Management, Minority and Women's Chamber Coalition).
  • Let's build on the 2010 summit held by The Denver Foundation that partnered with the Black Chamber of Commerce in bringing organizations and individuals together to expand hiring of persons of color in the nonprofit sector. That could take the form of a job fair and perhaps, ultimately, an employment and placement agency for nonprofit organizations.
  • We agree to graciously lose people to better opportunities because we support people's individual human and leadership development.

"Resources for Recruiting People of Color" was a workshop handout, and participants were referred to the Inclusiveness Project's website (http://www.nonprofitinclusiveness.org/) for more information on the topic.



Resources_for_recruiting_people_of_color.pdf30 KB