The National Federation of Community Broadcasters hosted a Feb. 18 conversation about diversity on boards of directors. It was the continuation of NFCB’s diversity, equity and inclusion meetings for radio stations that started last year. The discussion itself represents one of the forgotten areas of diversity and media.
Last year, California took the unprecedented step of requiring greater diversity among corporate boards of directors. Such a move comes amid many studies that show ethnic diversity on boards remains disproportionate to population numbers nationwide. Nonprofits are no exception. Racial and ethnic diversity among nonprofit boards of directors remains low.
Why should a community radio station care about the composition of its board of directors? Both for-profit and nonprofit leaders understand that generational, racial, gender and other forms of diversity reflect the real world. Donors today, particularly younger demographics, expect organizations to be more representative of the nation today. And they increasingly vote with their attention and dollars; even if your community is relatively homogenous, all-white boards give the impression that your organization is out of step with the times and the changes happening in the nation. Moreover, a diverse board offers your station greater knowledge, wider networks, and varied opinions when it comes to positioning your station for the future.
Board diversity is not merely a performative act. It is ongoing, intentional work aimed at keeping stations relevant and new generations engaged in the long-term health of a community radio station. NFCB CEO Sally Kane and former board President Sonya Green had many insights during this Feb. 18 conversation.
Here are a few observations they shared:
Do you want to be a more inclusive organization? Consider doing an assessment of your organization and see how your values align with the actions people see in the community. Who is missing? Who is at the table? How can we make the table bigger? Where does diversity, equity and inclusion show up? You may discover that where you see it may tell you something about your foundation, and what others see, but reveal a blind spot in your own perception.
From here, you need to understand how DEI applies to your constituents – whether they are a station’s donors or your audience. Boards then also need to think about their role – how can they best serve the organization.
“It was a growing and learning process,” Green says. “How we talk about our organizations is very important. As broadcasters, we understand the value of story, narrative and movement, and the story of our station is equally crucial.”
Rather than ask how an organization can attract BIPOC leaders, Green said, organizations should ask themselves how they are set up for equity. Do you have measures to protect and support BIPOC staff to thrive, be seen, and to be heard?
To access this webinar, you must be an NFCB member station with a login to the Solution Center. If you are with a member station and need help, please contact us now for assistance. If your community radio station is not yet a member, you can join here.