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Making the Case: Employee Development, Diversity, and Inclusion

Why Should We Care About IDEA in Public Gardens?

Bartholdi Park with sage in bloomAs public gardens tackle questions of relevance and engagement, diversity and inclusion practices can and must advance a garden’s ability to fulfill its mission. Diversity in garden leadership, staff, volunteers, and board members opens up access to resources in and out of the community. By strategically implementing diversity and inclusion practices, public gardens can prepare for the future by attracting younger generations of leaders and board members, ensuring sustainability in leadership and management.

IDEA Creates Financial Stability

Research shows that diversity pays! In the for-profit sector, gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their respective national industry group in terms of financial returns, and race and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform peers using the same metrics. Research further suggests that it is likely that age, sexual orientation, and experience would also bring competitive advantages. For non-profit organizations, this could lead to larger audiences, more revenue-based income, and increased grant funding. Other benefits of diversity in the workplace include an increase in creativity in terms of both new ideas and problem solving, decreases in turnover (Glassdoor Survey: 57% of employees believe their company should be doing more to increase diversity), and boards with diverse member’s function better.

With changes in cultural, generational, and socioeconomic demographics, there becomes a need for change in the representation and engagement of our donors, supporters, and funders that must also be reflected in the constituents we serve. The topic of diversity in non-profit fundraising has been a key issue for contemporary non-profits and has led to resources on building relationships with and among diverse constituents, the giving patterns of multicultural donors, and diversity in fundraising models.

Organizational Culture

Despite best intentions, programs aimed at diverse audiences can be difficult to plan and implement without input, engagement, and stakeholders from the communities they represent. In areas where communities are racially and ethnically diverse, reflecting this diversity in garden leadership could aid collaborations and partnerships with communities of color. This could also be helpful in connecting with other underserved communities that may be marginalized due to ability, orientation, or financial access. Studies in non-profit leadership show that an organization that encourages diversity and inclusion will have a wider range of perspectives, experiences, and methods of action for increasing engagement with diverse communities. An organizational culture that encourages differences can benefit from honest feedback, especially if “unpopular” opinions are taken into consideration.