Friday, April 24, 2015

Governance toolbox: Respecting our communities - however defined

The fit of two resources saved for sharing with you this week was so perfect, they deserve equal share of the spotlight. I like how naturally their respective topics dovetailed, to highlight the importance of expansive thinking about community and what we need to represent our stakeholders, whoever and wherever they may be.

How do you define community? -- When most of us define our "community," we generally think of the city or town in which we live. If we're a state-level organization, that definition will extend to our state borders. For most of our organizations and our boards, that description is accurate and appropriate. But "community" can translate into other groupings than geography. This excellent post by Nina Simon reminds us of that and invites us to stretch our thinking about how we define our stakeholders. For some readers, "community" may actually be defined by identity (e.g., ethnicity, profession, other life status). For others, "community" is one of affinity: common interests or activities. This probably is perfectly clear to readers already working in those environments. But it serves as a nice reminder to me - and to others who talk about the sector more broadly - that not all mission work comes wrapped in the same packaging.  It also requires boards of organizations serving different types of stakeholder groups to tailor their governance questions and decisions on potentially different kinds of challenges and opportunities.

Diversity -- I'm still reflecting on the points of this excellent video and post by Alice MacGillivray, with whom I share a common interest in communities. I appreciate her broader approach to thinking about, and defining, diversity. It's a mistake to ignore the value of ensuring a rich demographic mix in any room where groups gather to think, explore, discuss, create, and decide. But it's also a mistake to adopt an overly narrow definition. We need diversity in all of its forms when we are collaborating with others. Alice does a beautiful job of articulating that here.

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