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90% of Nonprofit Leadership Jobs Go to White Women. Why?

When you look at the nonprofit sector, the data shows that 90% of social sector nonprofit jobs, which are serving underprivileged communities, for the most part, are held by white women. I had a few executives on my Heartbeat Radio show that airs every week to unpack these findings a little bit.

I asked one of the white CEOs would they still be in that nonprofit sector if they didn't have the title CEO behind their name. There was a pause. Is this because white women feel they are the only ones who "deserve" power? Would they actually work for a black woman executive? Let me give you some parallels to that.

Diminishing Representation of Black and Brown People in the Corporate Sector is Not New

If you look at different sectors like sports, for example, data on the NBA shows that only 8 of the 30 head coaches are black. Why is this when the whole candidate pool is full of black men? The common issue in every organization! There are candidates! Have you done the work necessary to attract them?

Look at the NFL which is another example of what's happening with the owners. We have Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys who had the audacity to come out so strongly against players who take a knee during the National anthem. A known racist. A franchise owner full of black people making him wealthy. So again, there's that slave/master mentality that says you can go make me millions of dollars, but you dare not stand for your truth and you dare not do anything to honor other people.

You see, that's the stuff we're breaking apart right now. The marching across the country. This system is not working for us. We're not about to keep you wealthy while you continue to diminish us. So let's dial back to the original comment I made about nonprofits and leadership. People struggle with believing that black excellence or brown excellence is worthy of being leaders in this world. Do you even recognize black excellence?

It's Time to Answer the Tough Questions and Change Course

Would you follow me as a leader? Some people would have a hard time with that because I am an advocate for change. I am pushing for social change and social justice for people. Some are intimidated. Are you promoting or not promoting people in your organizations because you're afraid of who they really are? That you can't control us? That you can't diminish us? That you don't know what it's like to have to work for somebody that's not like you? Newsflash, this world has changed.

You cannot tell my son, who is biracial, along with this next generation of young leaders and young people that they aren't worthy when they have mixed blood in them. I have mixed blood in me, but the world definitely doesn't see me as a white woman. What are you going to do with this next generation of a candidate pool of people that you have historically not promoted?

My Challenge For You

My challenge for you is to begin to think differently about people. Can you shift your heart and be open to conversations about differences in people? It is the leadership at these organizations who must be willing to sit in the sting of uncomfortableness to have these real conversations. The conversations that are required in order for progress to be made.

In my new book that's coming out, I tell many stories to illustrate the injustices being done to people who look like me. I give you some insight and suggestions on how to improve and progress diversity within your organizations.

Cindi Bright is a Seattle based speaker and consultant on topics of race, diversity, and social justice. She hosts HeartBeat radio a weekly program discussing the issues impacting brown and black people. She spent over 30 years in corporate America as a human resources leader/executive. She is known for her candor, honesty, and humor. Her work is aimed at personal and business transformation.

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Cindi  Bright

Speaker, Author, Host, Consultant


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