In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, researchers Frances Kunreuther and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, discovered that it is not the lack of training that is limiting people of color from top positions in the non-profit world, but rather racial bias. This challenges the thinking and action of many organizations working to bring people of color into top positions. They write in part:
“Why are there so few leaders of color in nonprofit organizations?
It’s because of a persistent bias in the nonprofit world that systematically weeds out qualified candidates of color, we found in a study of more than 4,000 people — not a lack of aspiring leaders ready for the job, as is commonly assumed.
Despite years of deliberating the question of diversity, little has changed. Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other racial and ethnic minorities still fill fewer than 20 percent of nonprofit executive-director positions, a figure that hasn’t budged for more than a decade.
Whether you look at the 2006 CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation study “Daring to Lead,”which showed 17 percent of the top leaders are people of color, or BoardSource’s 2015 “Leading With Intent” report, which put the figure at only 11 percent, it is clear that nonprofit leaders too seldom reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
To better understand this racial leadership gap, we not only surveyed people from across the nonprofit landscape but also conducted focus groups and more than three dozen interviews with nonprofit and foundation leaders as well as management experts to hear their views of the barriers people of color face.