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Diversity and the Business Office

By Net Assets posted 10-09-2018 12:53 PM


CEO Notebook |

NBOA is striving to increase diversity and model inclusion within our community. First steps: honest conversations and a new emphasis in programs. 

jeff shields headshot
Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Last week, members of the NBOA Board of Directors assembled for their fall meeting. While the agenda included many of the usual items you would likely see on your own school’s board of trustees agenda, the generative discussion topic was one of the most personal and poignant that I can recall.

In NBOA’s new strategic plan, goal number one is to strengthen NBOA’s community — specifically, to “increase diversity and model inclusion within NBOA’s member community and volunteer leadership.” For the past 20 years, NBOA’s collegial, collaborative, idea-sharing community has served as a source of profound strength. The new strategic plan will leverage and enhance that community, and the NBOA Board of Directors will take a leadership role in doing so.

Who is not at the table, and why?

To achieve this goal, the board took the first important step of engaging in meaningful conversation about diversity, inclusion and equity from both a professional and personal point of view. Board member Nishant Mehta, head of school at The Children’s School in Atlanta, facilitated this discussion. He shared the building blocks for this work, which include clarifying terms: Diversity speaks to representation within a community or membership. Multiculturalism describes programmatic efforts to support diversity and inclusion. Equity and justice describe a culture — comprised of policies, programs, processes and people — that supports a community of diverse individuals who participate as their authentic selves.

Mehta also challenged board members to reflect on experiences that would help them understand the importance of and barriers to a truly diverse NBOA community. He asked questions like, “Who is not at the table, and why?” and “Think of a time in your life when you felt invisible.” The responses were surprising, sometimes painful and always illuminating. This was clearly the first of many important conversations the NBOA Board of Directors will have on this topic.

Here are two ways we are working toward these goals.

First, the 2019 NBOA Annual Meeting will showcase a diverse set of thought leaders who will share their unique insights and perspectives during general sessions, deep dives, concurrent sessions and goldmines. I’m so appreciative of the 2019 NBOA Annual Meeting Program Advisory Committee and NBOA’s professional development staff who put together this program.

Second, the NBOA Board of Directors is seeking nominations to serve on the board beginning with the 2019-20 school year. The board is looking for independent school thought leaders including business officers, business operations professionals (e.g., controllers, technology directors, facilities managers), heads of school and business partners with a track record of participation in NBOA and commitment to NBOA’s mission. Candidates from diverse backgrounds, including ethnicity, gender, geographic location, nationality, race, religion and sexual orientation are encouraged to apply. Please consider nominating yourself or a colleague.

Expanding our community in alignment with this strategy requires intentionality and focus, and the already amazing national community of independent school business officers will be that much better for it. Thank you for being part of this work and for playing a key role in advancing it.

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Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, October 9, 2018. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.

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10-09-2018 03:25 PM

I applaud this initiative and hope we are all ready to join together in leaning in to the discomfort that will inevitably follow in order to achieve success. 

We will be a stronger organization for having done so.

Martha Scache