April 25, 2019
Nonprofit CEOs Value Diversity, but Fall Short when Hiring

July 19, 2018 — Seventy percent of nonprofit CEOs believe it is very or extremely important for their organization’s staff to be diverse, but only 36% believe their staff are actually very or extremely diverse, according to a report released today by The Center for Effective Philanthropy, a Cambridge nonprofit that develops data to help funders improve their effectiveness.

In addition, the study, based on input from 205 nonprofit leaders across the country, found that while 70% of nonprofit CEOs believe that in order for their organization to achieve its goals, it is very or extremely important for its staff to reflect the populations the organization seeks to serve, only 42% believe their staff reflects the populations the organization seeks to serve very or extremely well

The survey results reinforce a report released last spring by The Boston Foundation (TBF) that concluded Massachusetts nonprofits are falling short in providing leadership opportunities to qualified people of color.

According to The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), the recently completed survey, summarized in Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations:
  • 90% of nonprofits reported they recruit candidates from a wide range of sources.

  • 64% evaluate candidates through skills-based assessments

  • 54% request that search firms provide a diverse candidate pool

  • 11% ask candidates to complete an anonymous demographic survey in order to evaluate the diversity of the candidate pool

  • 7% redact information from resumes before they are reviewed (e.g., names, addresses, educational backgrounds)

  • 42% of nonprofit CEOs reported that their organization’s foundation funders have not discussed diversity issues with them

  • Only 21% reported that funders explain how they use the demographic information they collect
Citing another study completed earlier this year, CEP noted that among challenges nonprofits face in advancing racial equity within their organization are historic organizational practices, lack of board commitment, and balancing internal racial equity work with programming commitments.

Those findings dovetail with the TBF report that people of color perceive fewer opportunities to advance within Massachusetts nonprofits, compared to peers in other states.

Aspiring leaders of color in Massachusetts nonprofits, the TBF report noted, were more likely to face a lack of encouragement and a lack of mentorship opportunities as they sought higher levels of responsibility in the nonprofit sector: 35% of people of color said they had mentors in their own organization, vs. 52% of white respondents

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