A bookshelf containing dozens of colorful hardcover and paperback books.

This month, we’re writing about different ways to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to the forefront of your organization. The move towards DEI is an important one that helps everyone in the organization. So, what slows organizations down? In short, organizational structure.

One thing all organizations have in common is structure. Sometimes we choose the organizational structure we implement. Other times, the structure is chosen for us or inherited. These three books discuss organizational structure and how it can hurt, or even halt, the best DEI intentions. The good news is that these structures don’t have to be stagnant. The structures can be challenged and changed with awareness.

3 Books to Understand and Advance your Organizational Structure

Reframing Nonprofit Organizations: Democracy, Inclusion, and Social Change by Angela M. Eikenberry, Roseanna M. Mirabella, and Billie Sandberg.

This work offers a specialized focus on the growing challenges faced by nonprofit organizations. The authors explain how, with less government support and more pressure for profit-earning behavior, non-profits organizations are doing more than ever before. This poses a major challenge for prioritizing DEI initiatives. This book examines these broad trends as well as specific practices through the lens of Democracy, Inclusion, and Social Change, focusing on tangible alternatives. Some of the specific focus areas for nonprofits include mapping practices, Development, Human Resources, Governance, nonprofit Management, use of technology, Performance Assessment and Fundraising. There is broad applicability for nonprofit organizations of all shapes and sizes.

This is a great book to read if you are a leader in an organization either beginning a DEI Initiative, or struggling with the implementation of one. The focus on the pragmatic elements and 16 chapters broken up by topic area makes this book ideal for finding the inspiration you need.

Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva

Many institutions and structures in the United States have a history rooted in injustice. The non-profit sector is no different. In this work, Edgar Villanueva shares his 14+ year experience in the nonprofit sector. He sheds light on some of the unseen ways in which racial and colonial history have shaped the sector. Villanueva also describes his Seven Steps for Healing:

  • grieving,
  • apologizing,
  • listening,
  • relating,
  • representing,
  • investing,
  • and finally repairing.

This is a provocative and dynamic read for those familiar with DEI content and looking for new or expanded viewpoints on their familiar environment. Though it may be challenging, it is also a great resource for funders looking to gain a DEI perspective about their donations.

Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion by Tiffany Jana and Ashley Diaz Mejias

Institutional bias can be overt, or it can be subtle. Tiffany Jana and Ashley Mejias examine subtle biases that remain present in organizations of all types. While creating change against systemic bias can seem like an impossible task for individuals, this book lights the way in how to take deliberate coordinated effort and combat bias by building organizational trust. What makes this book special is that it supports readers at all levels of organizations to make small but powerful changes in their environments.

This book is a great starting place for members of organizations who may be unfamiliar with DEI or are looking to better understand their own unconscious bias. It can also be used on both an individual and group level to build awareness.

Our Framework for DEI Strategy gives a good place to begin thinking about your DEI plan. But, these three books give you some necessary background to be able to understand the journey you’re on.