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From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact

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Author(s): Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers

Published: Dec. 9, 2014

Report Intro/Brief:
“Research shows unequivocally that diverse leadership teams produce positive results for organizations. For-profit companies with more leaders of color are better at problem solving and produce more creative and effective products and services. As a result, they perform better financially, gain a competitive edge when recruiting top talent, experience less employee turnover, and offer greater benefits for customers.

In the education sector, the case for diverse teams that include more leaders of color is equally critical. Education organizations need to tap the power of a diverse workforce in order to ensure that as a sector we are continually innovating and deepening our collective impact. At the same time, it is vital that education organizations reflect the communities they serve in order to deeply understand the concerns, needs, and challenges of diverse students, families, and communities, particularly those of color. Overall, 48 percent of students in the US are students of color, and that percentage is larger in urban communities struggling with some of society’s most difficult challenges. Without talent that reflects these communities, education organizations are not operating at optimal performance, and they may not be developing solutions that effectively address the needs of the individuals and communities they are working to serve.

Today, most professionals in the education sector agree: Diverse leadership teams bring tremendous value. However, there is much work to be done when it comes to education organizations’ abilities to attract, develop, and retain diverse leaders of color.

Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers developed From Intention to Action: Building Diverse, Inclusive Teams in Education to Deepen Impact to help translate these well-intentioned beliefs about the importance of diversity into actionable practices. The survey collected data from education nonprofit organizations (not including school districts) on the number of leaders of color within their organizations and on their diversity practices. The main finding is clear: There is a gap between intention and action when it comes to diversity at the leadership level in the education sector. The study found that the number of leaders of color dramatically decreases above the director level and that while all organizations report a commitment to diversity, this commitment is rarely bolstered by specific, measurable practices.

In this report, you will find outcomes from the From Intention to Action study as well as a range of potential solutions for eliminating the gap between intention and action. It is our hope that this report will help focus the diversity dialogue by revealing the actual state of diversity at the leadership level within nonprofits in the education sector and then move beyond that dialogue to specific, measurable action and sector-wide accountability. The education sector can no longer afford to just hold diversity as a theoretical value; we must translate that commitment into practice.”

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