Fumbling Towards Equity: Increasing Diversity at All Levels of the Talent Pipeline

By MacArthur Antigua, Senior Director, Alumni Engagement and Cross-Sector Partnerships, Public Allies
Ben Duda,
Co-Executive Director, AmeriCorps Alums
Monisha Kapila,
Founder and CEO, ProInspire
Kerrien Suarez,
Consultant, Equity in the Center

We believe that the nonprofit sector needs diverse leaders at all levels in order to better achieve organizational missions, as well as reflect the communities in which they work and serve. Currently there is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the nonprofit sector:

  • 82% of the U.S. nonprofit workforce is white, compared to 65% of the overall U.S. workforce. In addition, people of color are expected to be 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2039.
  • Nonprofit organizations that serve children and families lack diverse leadership: 89% of nonprofit CEOs are white; 80% of board members are white.
  • Social outcomes differ based on race and ethnicity across multiple indicators. For example, the overall poverty rate is 15% of the U.S. population, yet for Blacks it is 27.2% and for Hispanics it is 25.6%.

So what holds people back from addressing this issue? Our work has identified three key barriers:

  • Creating a more diverse and equitable social sector is an adaptive challenge. Behaviors and practices are influenced by implicit and unconscious bias, so people and organizations need to change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
  • Organizations lack knowledge on how to change recruitment, selection, advancement, and retention practices.
  • Individuals who are eager to make a difference need support systems and peers to help them create change in their organizations. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are often highly sensitive topics, as they get to the core of people’s identities.

Moving the Field Forward

In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation convened AmeriCorps Alums, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, ProInspire, Public Allies, and Teach For America for the Social Sector Talent Pipelines Learning Lab. These organizations spent one year learning Results Based Leadership and focusing on how to impact race and equity in the social sector. This work laid the foundation for Equity in the Center.

Equity in the Center is a field wide initiative that will influence social sector leaders to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial and ethnic diversity at all levels in the social sector. Our work will initially focus on three key strategies:

  • Educate & engage social sector leaders with the business case and tools to demonstrate why and how to make organizations more equitable
  • Increase awareness and identify early adopters through a campaign that ‘raises the heat’ on a sector that is largely ignoring issues of equity
  • Create learning communities that equip individuals to lead the change needed to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations

We must come together to push the field forward and create change that is urgently needed. At the Independent Sector Conference, Equity in the Center will lead a session about moving from talk to action around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Please join us at our session, Moving from Good Intentions to Realization, on Friday, November 18th from 8:30 – 10:00am (Breakout Sessions 4 timeblock), and online at http://equityinthecenter.org/manifesto.

3 comments
  • MacArthur Antigua

    Thanks, IS for highlighting this workshop! We changed the title to “Fumbling Towards Equity: Increasing Diversity at all Levels of the Talent Pipeline” – could you update the blog to reflect that? We look forward to seeing y’all on Friday morning!

  • Mikaela Seligman

    We, at AchieveMission, applaud Equity in the Center and its leaders for situating race and equity squarely on our shared radar – exactly where it must be for the sector to achieve progress. We are with you 100% and have been since our founding seven years ago. We are proud to call Monisha Kapila a board member and to have played a role informing many of the early Annie E. Casey Foundation strategy discussions.
    This commitment is part of our mission to dramatically increase the impact achieved by nonprofits and the social sector by enhancing the sector’s perception and practice of talent management.
    Doing our own part to put race and equity in the center, we have been challenging ourselves and our partners to recognize racial bias in our assumptions and behaviors, and to take action to strip away counterproductive talent management practices across our organizations, nurturing an enduring community of thought and practice leaders who can strengthen and support the work.
    We look forward to joining with you as we fumble toward equity, sharing our loss and learning with each other. This is truly adaptive work, and for that, we need each other. Follow and contribute to our blog at http://www.achievemission.org/resources/blog/.

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