Black History Month is a unique time in the nonprofit sector. While the month of February highlights the historical impact that so many in the African American community have had in the history of our nation and our world, it can also highlight how far we still have to go. A 2015 study by Community Wealth Partners, for example, found that only 18 percent of nonprofit executive directors were people of color. Another study discovered that Black women are most likely to feel their race has had a negative impact on their career advancement in the nonprofit sector. And another study showed that nonprofits led by black executive directors are behind peer organizations with white leaders when it comes to funding received from philanthropic efforts. The truth is, the nonprofit sector has its own unique challenges when working to overcome these racial disparities.
So, what can you do to be a small part of the change that will help to resolve some of these issues?
First, you can take a look at the staff, the vendors, and the communities your organization interacts with and see if it’s intentionally aimed at fostering diversity. This active approach makes a difference in supporting those who may often be overlooked.
Second, you can inquire about any mentorship programs available, or push to have them created, especially those that focus on proactively including diverse employees. Mentorship programs increase people’s access to important relationships, experiences, and platforms they can use to thrive.
Third, you can take a look at the hiring practices for your firm and see if your organization is intentional about seeking diverse high-level talent. Those with different backgrounds and experiences provide new perspectives that help refine and enhance processes and make better products. .
Fourth, you can encourage your organization to have a culture of inclusion, advocating to have diversity goals a transparent part of your organization’s overall strategic plan. Inclusion fosters diversity and allows employees to be themselves, as people want to feel as though they belong.
And finally, you can seek out black-led organizations that you can support such as:
- Black Girls Code works to build pathways for young women of color to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and creators by introducing them to skills in computer programming and technology.
- 100 Black Men of America works to improve educational, quality-of-life and economic opportunities within African-American communities.
- NAACP sees itself as the home of grassroots activism for civil rights and social justice, working to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.
Overall, as we’ve seen on the national stage in recent years, there’s a lot of work still to be done in regards to overcoming racial disparities. The nonprofit sector isn’t exempt from some of the challenges being faced by those in the for-profit sector. But as always, we as individuals have the power to make an impact. We encourage you to consider what impact you want to have on the African American community and to take at least one action this month to make that impact.