- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009


A study released by the Chronicle of Philanthropy shows minorities and women are unlikely to hold top positions at big U.S. charities and nonprofits.

The data was collected for the first-ever report by the chronicle, titled “Achieving Diversity in Nonprofit Organizations.” After the 400 largest charities (by fundraising revenue) were compared to Fortune 500 companies, numbers showed that even in the nonprofit world, many of the chief executive officers are white men.

The study revealed that just 3.5 percent of nonprofit CEOs are black and 1.5 percent are Hispanic. Less than 10 percent of youth and social service organizations are headed by a member of a minority, and slightly more than 6 percent of the 400 biggest nonprofits have a minority serving as CEO.

Still, according to the study, women make up 18.8 percent of nonprofit CEOs compared to just 3 percent at Fortune 500 companies. Among the 400 biggest charities in the United States, no cultural organization, hospital, public affairs group, Jewish federation or other religious organization is headed by a woman.

Heather Joslyn, an editor at the Chronicle of Philanthropy, helped collect data and conduct the survey in July and August and compared it to the 2009 Fortune 500 list.

Nonprofits “talk a good game about diversity, but these statistics don’t necessarily bear that out,” she said.

According to Ms. Joslyn, a “number of factors” reveal the meaning behind the statistics. She said the boards of the nonprofits generally are made up of white men who have experience and connections.

“People still tend to hire people that look like them,” she said.

Ms. Joslyn said the nonprofit world tends to be predominantly female. Studies show that two-thirds of the nonprofit work force are women - however, the bigger the charity, the less likely it is to have a woman leading it.

The study included the four D.C. area nonprofit CEOs who are black. They are the leaders of the Salvation Army, the United Negro College Fund, the American Kidney Fund, and the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

Ms. Joslyn added that the numbers reflecting Fortune 500 CEOs are “abysmal.”

“We see a bit of a glass ceiling with the largest [nonprofit] groups,” Ms. Joslyn said. “Every year, the glass ceiling has more cracks in it. [These numbers] are surprising; things seem to be changing, but maybe not as fast as it should be. Large charities are more diverse than large businesses.”

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