Did Komen's Lack of Board Diversity Cause Its Crisis?

The nonprofit organization's board of directors is mostly Texan, homogeneous and wealthy. Here's how the lack of diversity fueled its misstep over funding to Planned Parenthood.

The nonprofit Susan G. Komen organization's board of directors is mostly Texan, homogeneous and wealthy. Here's how the lack of diversity fueled its misstep over funding to Planned Parenthood, which resulted in a PR fiasco and a marketplace lack of confidence that will be hard to repair.


The organization, which fights breast cancer, reversed its decision to defund Planned Parenthood, but can the damage really be undone? The resulting mistrust from Komen's flip-flop stance and delayed response to protests now has former supporters wary of backing the organization and raising questions.

How could such a poor decision get approved in the first place? The answer could lie in a lack of diversity in its board, according to an article on MotherJones.com by Clara Jeffery.

Calling for an Overhaul

The article delves into the organization's other underlying issues—such as the way donated funds are collected and distributed, its focus on finding a cure over prevention and how the organization threatened to sue other charities for utilizing their "for the cure" phrasing in marketing.

Most notably, it makes the call for a complete Komen overhaul—starting with its "sucky" board of directors, says Jeffery. She notes that the nine board members are mostly white (there are only two Blacks on the board) and most are wealthy Texans.

Ultimately, the article raises important questions about diversity in leadership and thought that is a common topic discussed at DiversityInc. Without more diversity among board members—individuals who can challenge the way the organization has typically done its business—how can Komen adapt and innovate to changing demographics and concerns among the population of women it purports to represent? How can it prevent communication blunders from happening again?

Diversity in Thought

Read these DiversityInc articles on diversity in thought and corporate values for more insight into how crucial diversity is to a business' success and public relations:

Restoring Trust in Public Companies Through Diversity

Luis Aguilar is one of the most influential Latino attorneys in the country and has served as an executive in major U.S. companies. He talked to DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti about his commitment to diversity at the SEC and in the governance of the country's public companies.

Did the Fed's Stunning Lack of Diversity Cause the Housing Crisis?

Without a diversity-management structure, there are no checks and balances in place.

Will Occupy Wall Street Occupy Your Front Entrance?

They're angry and growing in numbers. What does your organization have to do to not be a target?

Ask the White Guy: Decision Making, Clarity of Values & What to Do When It Goes Horribly Wrong

Are you violating your values? If you are, you can't hide from the repercussions.

Lessons on Values From Ellen & JCPenney

JCPenney's support of Ellen DeGeneres after an attack by an anti-gay organization is a case study in clarity of values and CEO support.

Lowe's Muslim Publicity Gaffe Serves as Case Study of What Not to Do

Lowe's publicity nightmare continues after being the only major advertiser to pull its advertising from TLC's "All-American Muslim" reality show.

 

White Women 'Have Got To Do Better,' Says Planned Parenthood CEO

"It is not up to women of color to save this country from itself. That's on all of us," said Cecile Richards.

REUTERS

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards had a message for white women over the weekend: step up.

Read More Show Less

Trump Expected to Tap Hate Group Leader as Ambassador for Women

"This would be putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

REUTERS

President Donald Trump is expected to tap the leader of a national hate group to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues.

Read More Show Less

Stop Talking About the Rooney Rule

Magical thinking will not move the needle on your diversity efforts, or your career, if your leadership is not accountable for results.

REUTERS

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 17 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

Read More Show Less

'Regardless Of,' 'It Doesn't Matter' — Bigoted Phrases in Common Use

Credibility is at the core of a successful diversity management effort. Secretary Tillerson provides a teachable moment.

REUTERS

Luke Visconti is the founder and CEO of DiversityInc. Although the title of his column is meant to be humorous, the issues he addresses and the answers he gives to questions are serious — and based on his 17 years of experience publishing DiversityInc. Click here to send your own question to Luke.

Read More Show Less

You Can Be Fired for Being a Neo-Nazi

The First Amendment does not protect employees who engage in white supremacy activities, experts suggest.

REUTERS

The acts of violence at the hands of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., have raised questions about the workplace: is it okay to fire employees who identify as bigots?

Read More Show Less

Who's Left on Trump's Business Councils?

Which CEOs have — and have not — responded to President Trump's handling of Charlottesville?

Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO / REUTERS

During a critical time for business leaders, CEOs and other company leaders have faced decisions. Some chose to remove themselves from White House business councils after President Donald Trump did not immediately disavow white supremacy after violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., left one counter-protester dead and many others injured.

Read More Show Less

More CEOs Condemn Trump's Response to Charlottesville

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said that by not immediately rebuking white supremacists, President Trump "missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together."

REUTERS

More executives are standing in opposition against President Donald Trump's response to violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and his refusal to immediately condemn white supremacists.

Read More Show Less