Does a business-like approach to diversity in nonprofit organizations have a chilling effect on stakeholders?

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Ines Jurcevic
Rachel Fyall

Keywords

Organizational communication, Diversity frames, Inclusion, Nonprofit sector, Business

Abstract

Despite widespread commitment to promoting diversity in the nonprofit sector, increasing diversity poses a continued challenge for many nonprofits. Even nonprofits with explicit diversity statements often struggle to diversify their organizations. One potential impediment to achieving diversity may result from the framing and communication of diversity values within nonprofits. We evaluate the reactions of hypothetical stakeholders to two forms of diversity framing – instrumental and moral frames – focusing on potential divergence amongst racial-minority and White perspectives. Experiment 1 demonstrates that Black and Latino participants feel marginally more dehumanized and anticipate racial minorities will feel more devalued in an organization espousing the moral (compared to instrumental) diversity frame. In contrast, Whites feel less valued, more dehumanized, and perceive organizations as less authentically dedicated to diversity when viewing an organization that espouses the instrumental (compared to moral) frame. Experiment 2 extends these results demonstrating that Whites who are particularly concerned about their place in future job markets are more likely to feel devalued by instrumental frames to diversity. We discuss how these results diverge from existing findings of similar frames applied to business, rather than nonprofit, contexts. These findings extend our understanding of the implications of outcome-oriented versus moral frames within nonprofit organizations as well as informing understanding of how diversity frames may offer divergent signals to underrepresented and non-underrepresented stakeholders.

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