Racial Diversity of Foundation Leadership

Diversity—in particular, racial diversity—has become an increasingly discussed issue in the context of foundation effectiveness. Much of the data fueling these discussions has been about the demographics of foundation staff, leaders, and boards and the policies that foundations have regarding diversity [1]. But how do foundation CEOs perceive the connection between racial diversity of foundation leadership and foundations’ ability to have impact [2]?

In a survey that we conducted last year, we asked foundation CEOs to what extent they agreed with the statements, “Foundations would be able to create more impact if their leadership teams were more racially diverse” and “Foundations would be able to create more impact if their governing boards were more racially diverse.”

Nearly half of CEOs believe that foundations would be able to create more impact if their leadership teams were more racially diverse and 47 percent of CEOs believe that foundations would be able to create more impact if their boards were more racially diverse. Few CEOs disagreed with either sentiment, but a sizeable proportion took a neutral stance [3].

Of CEOs who responded to our survey, 14 percent of CEOs self-identified as people of color. These CEOs were more likely to strongly agree that foundations would be able to create more impact if their governing boards were more racially diverse; 45 percent of CEOs of color strongly agreed with this sentiment, while 12 percent of white CEOs did.

 

To read more about CEP’s latest research on foundation CEOs’ perceptions of how much progress foundations have made and what foundations can do to increase their impact, see the report How Far Have We Come? Foundation CEOs on Progress and Impact.

To read more perspectives on the link between diversity, equity, inclusion and effectiveness, see the blog post “D5 at the Midpoint” by Kelly Brown, Director of D5 Coalition.

Ramya Gopal is a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. You can find her on Twitter @RGopal_CEP.

 


[1] Christian González-Rivera et al., “Funding the New Majority: Philanthropic Investment in Minority-Led Nonprofits,” The Greenlining Institute (February 2013): 3, http://greenlining.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/FundingtheNewMajority.pdf; Lawrence T. McGill, Brielle Bryan, and Eugene D. Miller, “Benchmarking Diversity: A First Look at New York City Foundations and Nonprofits,” Philanthropy New York and Foundation Center (2009): 6, http://www.philanthropynewyork.org/s_nyrag/bin.asp?CID=13586&DID=30307&DOC=FILE.PDF; Ellie Buteau and Kevin Bolduc, “CEP’s Work to Date on the Topic of Racial Diversity in Philanthropy,” The CEP Blog, Center for Effective Philanthropy, April 5, 2012, http://www.cep.org/blog/2012/04/cep%E2%80%99s-work-todate-on-the-topic-of-racial-diversity-in-philanthropy-2/; Ellie Buteau, “Are Funders and Their Grantees Discussing Racial Diversity?” The CEP Blog, Center forEffective Philanthropy, April 10, 2012, http://www.cep.org/blog/2012/04/are-funders-and-their-grantees-discussing-racial-diversity/.

[3] CEP’s earlier research indicates that getting full participation from board members of color is more likely to happen under certain circumstances. We found that when boards have three or more members of color, board members of color more strongly believe that they have an equal opportunity to have influence on the board. Phil Buchanan et al., “Beyond Compliance: The Trustee Viewpoint on Effective Foundation Governance,” Center for Effective Philanthropy, (November 2005): 19, http://www.cep.org/assets/pdfs/CEP_BeyondCompliance.pdf.

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