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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Organizations




The terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are often amalgamated into the widely-used acronym DEI. This umbrella term serves both to name a particular problem – namely, the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in many nonprofit organizations, and to advance a wide range of activities that nonprofit organizations may pursue to become more diverse, inclusive, and equitable. Although DEI encompasses a range of issues facing non-majority groups such as gender, ability, sexuality, and age, it is most often referring to the whiteness of nonprofits and the lack of racial diversity among nonprofit boards and staff members, especially staff in decision-making roles. Nonprofits addressing DEI are grappling with the ways that racial inequities in the larger society are replicated within organizations, both as workplaces and in the work they do in communities. However, diversity, equity and inclusion are distinct concepts that merit being defined and examined separately.


  • Nonprofit
  • Race
  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Organizational change

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Further Reading

  • Kim, M., & Mason, D. (2018). Representation and diversity, advocacy and nonprofit arts organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(1), 49–71.

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  • Newkirk, P. (2019). Diversity, Inc.: The failed promise of a billion-dollar business. New York: Bold Type Books.

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  • Taylor, D., Paul, S., & McCoy, E. (2019). Diversity, equity, and inclusion and the salience of publicly disclosing demographic data in American environmental nonprofits. Sustainability, 11, 5491.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

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Correspondence to Frances Kunreuther .

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Thomas-Breitfeld, S., Kunreuther, F. (2022). Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Nonprofit Organizations. In: List, R.A., Anheier, H.K., Toepler, S. (eds) International Encyclopedia of Civil Society. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-99675-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-99675-2

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