Veronica Gerrity
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

With the fervor of International Women’s Day sweeping social media and news outlets last week, examples such as #pressforprogress and McDonald’s flipping their famous arches to make a “W” seemed everywhere. At JB+A, we wanted to explore the landscape of the nonprofit sector and look at how women are making an impact.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, DonorPerfect – a fundraising growth platform – shared their Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women. You can get it here. Notable was the statistic that although 73% of all nonprofit employees are women, women make up only 45% of nonprofit CEOs. This number has even more disparity when the organizational budget is factored in.  As an organization’s budget increases, the likelihood of a female leader decreases drastically. Despite this statistic and trend, the nonprofit sector is striving for gender parity.

Now let’s talk about Boards. A recent BoardSource survey Leading With Intent:2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, showed women make up 43% of nonprofit Board members compared to the 12% seen at public companies. Once again, nonprofits have far more diversity than the private sector when it comes to gender, but these numbers still do not accurately reflect our population and we can only wonder what our sector would be like with more inclusion at all levels.

Locally, organizations such as Women’s Foundation, Women’s Philanthropy at the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City and Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, are all striving to make changes in our community through focusing on women philanthropists, volunteers and leaders. These organizations are tackling the need to train women and involve women in all aspects of the nonprofit world.
What else can we do? The White House Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership had these suggestions to keep progress moving forward.

  • Develop the pipeline. With a majority female labor force, the nonprofit sector has a pipeline in place. The challenge is to develop appropriate mentoring and staff development opportunities to position mid-level managers for the top positions in the organization.
  • Teach women improved negotiation skills to help them improve their prospects for promotion to top leadership positions and to reduce the salary gap.
  • Recruit, train and retain people of color across all levels of the nonprofit organization. Several studies suggest that the overall lack of racial and ethnic diversity in organizations can make the organizational culture alienating for persons of color.
  • Widen the search criteria for top leadership positions and look within the organization as well as outside.
  • Increase the diversity of boards.

By following these suggestions, our sector can continue to lead the way in gender equality and continue to profit from a steady pipeline of invested, qualified and motivated women.

Leave a Reply