Setting Goals for Staff Composition

Before taking action to recruit and retain staff of color, give some consideration to the extent to which your organization wants to set concrete, numeric goals regarding the composition of the staff. Some organizations choose to deliberately establish diversity goals regarding staff composition.

An example of a diversity goal for the staff (a variation of which can be approved as official board policy to be included in the by-laws) follows: ________________________ (name of organization) will ensure that the staff reflects the community that it serves in regards to race and ethnicity. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the community we serve is comprised of 47 percent whites, 30 percent Latinos, 10 percent African Americans, 5 percent Asian Americans, 5 percent Native Americans, and 3 percent "other." Therefore, ______________________ will strive for similar representation in the make-up of the staff. As demographic changes occur, we will strive to fill open positions accordingly.

Another way to approach goal setting is to start slowly and build up to a more ambitious goal. In general, organizations find the most success integrating new voices and maximizing the skills of new people when the new group (e.g., people of color, women) makes up at least 30 percent of the total (be it staff or board of directors), or, at a minimum, if there are at least three people (in a relatively small group) from the new group involved with the organization. Oftentimes the result of not having at least 30 percent or three people is that without this critical mass, the culture doesn't change and the new participants can feel isolated.

There are other advantages of establishing concrete goals:

  • You're simply more likely to focus on an issue if an official goal or policy exists to remind you what your organization wants to achieve.
  • In the process of building consensus, the board and staff will develop a shared commitment about the importance of reaching the goal, which will increase everyone's involvement in the effort to recruit and retain staff of color.

On the other hand, there are potential drawbacks to establishing numeric diversity goals:

  • It increases the risk of hiring people of color to work in the organization who are not a good fit in other ways, just to make sure that you achieve your diversity goal. This will result in a negative experience for the organization as well as for individuals who are hired and can lead to poor staff morale and a negative reputation among communities of color.
  • Focusing too much on numeric goals can make some people of color feel they are being treated like tokens.

As you proceed through this topic, keep in mind the issue of whether or not to set a concrete diversity goal for your staff. When you come to the conclusion of the Personnel section, you will be asked to make a decision about this.


Overview: Personnel 

Benefits of Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Staff 

Costs of Unsuccessful Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Staff 

Position Descriptions/Job Qualifications 

Announcing and Advertising Personnel Openings 

Interviewing and Selecting Candidates 

Retaining Personnel of Color 

Performance Reviews 

Professional Development 

Exit Interview Process  

Employment Policies