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According to a report released in June 2017, many nonprofit and foundation leaders assume that people of color either do not aspire to be leaders, lack the proper education credentials, and/or have inadequate technical skills to be leaders within the sector. These assumptions are wrong. It is naive for these organizations to assume that the talent does not exist rather than confront the circumstances that lead to and maintain a homogeneous leadership pool.
The Building Movement Project, which works to “support and advance the potential of nonprofit organizations as sites for progressive social change” aims to bring to light the current inequalities that persist in the nonprofit workforce.
In their report, Race to Lead: Confronting the Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap, the Building Movement Project asked respondents of color and white respondents about their views on leadership and training in the nonprofit sector.
This report found that the education levels of people of color and their white counterparts is comparable. Further, people of color are actually receiving upper level degrees (PhD, JD, MD) at higher rates than white respondents (nine percent versus seven percent). This data shows that people of color are achieving academic success despite the current assumptions that are being perpetrated throughout the nonprofit sector.
When asked about training in project goal setting, financial management, and self care/wellness both groups had comparable levels of expertise. Though people of color and white people in the nonprofit sector have similar skill sets, the lack of “technical training” is often a response to the fact that people of color feel like they need to obtain additional training to be respected and accepted within the nonprofit workspace. Focus groups conducted by the Building Movement Project found that aspiring leaders of color believed that they had to obtain levels of technical skills higher than that of their white counterparts to be confident in applying for top level positions.