Though growing in population, people of color remain underrepresented in public service leadership, an issue that can and must be resolved if we are to effectively change our nation’s most pressing social issues—from education to health, the environment and increasing inequality.

A cornerstone of RCLA’s research and leadership programs over the last decade has been the importance of diverse leadership and inclusion across organizations. When current disparities in public service leadership are addressed, the public service sectors will be better able to solve social policy dilemmas. The participation of people of color and the infusion of diverse voices and experiences into decision-making processes ensure a sense of cultural competency and effectiveness within policy-based solutions to social issues.


Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion: Insights from Scholarship
By Sonia M. Ospina, Waad El Hadidy and Grisel Caicedo with Amanda Jones, April 2011

In a report released in partnership with National Urban Fellows, RCLA scholars examine recent research on leadership and diversity, with a focus on public service. They find that scholars are linking diversity with adaptability, arguing that learning how to build organizations that effectively leverage racial diversity can foster the leadership capacity to adapt to other kinds of diversity and thrive in an increasingly complex environment. Yet there is less agreement in the literature on just how to do that. Limited empirical research in the public service field has resulted in a dearth of evidence for what works, even two decades after the diversity agenda has become a focus for public service organizations.

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Public Service: A Review of Leadership Development Programs in the US
By Sonia M. Ospina, Waad El Hadidy and Grisel Caicedo with Amanda Jones, April 2011

One in three Americans are people of color, yet minorities occupy just one in six leadership positions in state and federal government, nonprofits and foundations. This RCLA and National Urban Fellows report offers a listing of leadership development programs at the regional and national levels that are dedicated to supporting leaders of color, committed to diversity and open to all public service leaders, or that focus on diversity management.

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Public Service: A Guide to Leading Change
By the Research Center for Leadership in Action and National Urban Fellows, June 2011

While diversity has increased in the public service workforce, it is still largely lacking at senior levels. This guide from RCLA and National Urban Fellows shares practical steps for individuals and organizations to foster inclusion. The report highlights specific elements for developing an inclusive organization, questions to consider in tracking progress and NUF's new Inclusive Leadership Model.