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Why Boards are So White and Possible Steps Towards Progress

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Jan 17, 2018

Kenneth Taylor, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University that studies a lack of leadership diversity in nonprofit boards, wrote recently in The Conversation that “at a time when only 61.3 percent of Americans are white, about 84 percent of nonprofit board members are in that demographic group, along with 90 percent of nonprofit board chairs.”

Taylor suggests that, while many leaders notice this imbalance, they do not believe that a lack of racial diversity at the board level is at odds with their mission. However, he counters this perspective with his own personal experience. As an executive director, Taylor was paid less than the white executive whose position he assumed—even though he had more experience. “Attempting to negotiate a more equitable salary with a board that was all white aside from one black man made me more discouraged. I was simply told the matter was not up for discussion.”

How can organizations improve in this area? First and foremost, they can make diversity a top priority when recruiting new leaders. Studies show that most board members are identified through traditional, informal practices. This leads to more of the same in terms of racial diversity.

Read more tips from Dr. Taylor at The Conversation.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org