This article offers nine strategies to liberate board culture and provides a tool that boards may use to reflect on their own behavior and strengthen their culture.
Plenty of scholarly and research-driven articles have proposed how to develop rigorous systems and processes for effective board governance. However, these systems and processes must rest on a strong foundation of a healthy, productive board culture. Each board culture is uniquely shaped by board members’ ideologies and beliefs, as well as their relationships with nonprofit leadership and staff, external partners, and one another. A robust board culture can fuel board effectiveness and help nonprofits achieve their mission in sustainable ways.
This article advocates for a vision of board service that disrupts oppressive mindsets and behaviors, using the concepts of colonization and liberation to improve board culture so that the nonprofits those boards serve can achieve their missions. Certainly, an unavoidable power dynamic exists between a nonprofit’s leadership and board. The CEO, after all, reports to the board. However, the distinction I am making concerns how that dynamic can play out in a way that does not replicate or perpetuate harmful, discriminatory biases or behaviors.
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