Initiatives resource

Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap

August 1, 2018

Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap report coverThe percentage of people of color in the executive director/CEO role has remained under 20% for the last 15 years, despite the country becoming more diverse. Race to Lead utilized Building Movement Project’s Nonprofits, Race, and Leadership Survey, which asked employees about their current nonprofit job, interest in leading a nonprofit, personal background, and the like. The survey yielded over 4,000 responses.

The report critiques two fundamental assumptions widely believed by nonprofit leaders–first, people of color are less interested in nonprofit leadership than their white counterparts, and, two, that those who are interested do not have the skills needed to compete for top leadership jobs. They instead found that the most significant barriers to increasing equity are “implicit biases deeply embedded in nonprofit policies, practices, and structures.”

In addition to explaining why equitable disparities in nonprofit leadership still persist, the Race to Lead report identifies three ways to change organizational practices toward increasing equity and inclusion: (1) shift the narrative to put the onus on changing the assumptions and structures that guide decision-makers; (2) encourage influential leaders to speak out about the issue; and (3) increase funding for organizations that commit to adopting new practices.