Giving Compass' Take:

• Kimberly Lewis, writing for Forbes, discusses the lack of women of color in leadership roles in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She offers suggestions on how to build a diverse pipeline to these executive positions. 

• There are ways to diversify pipelines, but what else needs to happen within the sector (perhaps from philanthropists) to help more people of color obtain positions of power?

• Read about the role of foundations when trying to increase diversity for impact philanthropy.

When I was a young girl, I never dreamed of working at, much less running, a nonprofit organization. I didn't have a framework around nonprofit or for-profit, for that matter. Today, colleges and universities offer students majors in nonprofit management and philanthropy.

But there weren't a lot of visible options for me. I didn't see many women in roles of authority aside from teachers, nurses and a few small restaurant owners in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. Still, I sensed that there was something different waiting for me.

Women chief executives represent only 23.8% of all chief executives in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau. When you look at people of color, the percentage of representation at the chief executive level is no better for men or women, according to a Race to Lead survey, an initiative of the Building Movement Project.

We can safely assume that people of color and women are losing ground in the for-profit arena and are stagnant in the nonprofit circles. The solution to this issue is for both nonprofit and for-profit leaders and boards of directors to be intentional in attracting, building and retaining talent in these underrepresented populations.

We can accomplish this by doing three things:

  • Build bench strength. This can be done by providing mentoring and/or coaching, educational investment and assigning special tasks to help employees grow their skills and knowledge.
  • If your organization lacks diversity, recruit it. Intentionally seek applicants via various affinity groups, such as the local or state Hispanic Alliance, the National Urban League or the American Business Women’s Association.
  • Create a diverse succession plan. This succession plan should intentionally increase the diversity within an organization and allow for planned upward mobility.

Read the full article about diverse pipeline by Kimberly Lewis at Forbes