July 31, 2018

Posted by Rusty Stahl, President and CEO, Fund the People

The perennial excuse for not hiring diverse people to top-tier, mainstream nonprofit jobs is that the employer could not find any highly-qualified candidates. We know from many sources — most recently from the Building Movement Project’s great Race to Lead research — that diverse nonprofit leaders are out there in abundance.

If your organization can’t find great diverse candidates, there are three likely reasons.

  • You don’t care to look, or you aren’t trying hard enough. Try again.
  • Whoever runs your searches does not reach out beyond their usual networks. Try something different.
  • Your organization is not an attractive to the people you seek to employ. Try looking internally.

This is where the link between “talent-investing” and “equity and inclusion” comes to life.

[bctt tweet=”If your nonprofit doesn’t invest in its staff in general, it will likely be unsuccessful at establishing a more diverse staff.” username=”fundthepeople”]If your nonprofit doesn’t invest in its staff in general, it will likely be unsuccessful at establishing a more diverse staff. If your organization is a toxic place to work, then the very people you want to engage will rightfully stay away. If you pay wages that are so far below market-rate that only independently wealthy people can afford to work there, it will likely be difficult to enhance the socio-economic diversity of the staff. By exploiting the labor of current employees, by default we exclude prospective staff.

[bctt tweet=”New blog post from@rustystahl: By exploiting the #labor of current #employees, by default #nonprofits exclude prospective #staff. #fundthepeople” username=”fundthepeople”]

The fusion of exploitation and exclusion takes place throughout nonprofit careers and at all levels of our staffing hierarchies. It creates a funnel that filters-out diverse prospective leaders until we are left with the least diverse folks at that top.

  • In the beginning, unpaid and internships and under-paid apprenticeships seem to be a primary entry-point into the networks and job experience needed to break into the field. The well-paid fellowships tend to be expensive to run and offer few slots – so we need better entry-points at greater scale and with greater levels of capital and affordability. Here we lose tons of diverse latent leadership – people who could make a huge difference over their lifetime, but cannot find that initial foothold in the nonprofit sector. Our large talent pool begins to shrink.
  • At the mid-point, the lack of informal and formal mentoring, and the lack of places to move up, means that diverse leaders zig-zag around the field and get stuck in traffic behind leaders who will not or cannot make room for new people toward the top. The pool shrinks further.
  • At the top, there is often nothing that seems attractive, productive, or dignified about retirement for executives, so they stay in place far beyond their due date. Often, they and their boards do little to no planning for the inevitable transition. Those people of color who are hired as executive directors are too often set-up to fail by hidden debts or funders waiting to see if they will succeed before renewing funding, thus helping them to not succeed. The talent pool becomes a thin trickle.

Luckily, there is a different way. In place of exploitation and exclusion, we can intentionally invest in your staff to fuel a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

[bctt tweet=”New blog post by @rustystahl: In place of #exploitation and #exclusion, you can #intentionally #invest in staff to fuel a more equitable and inclusive workplace. #fundthepeople” username=”fundthepeople”]

We lay out this approach in our framing statement on equity in the Fund the People Toolkit.

This summer, we have teamed up with the Center for Urban and Racial Equity (CURE) to begin producing knowledge, practical tools, and trainings on how funders and nonprofits can engage in talent-investing to advance intersectional racial equity in the nonprofit workforce. To launch this important new effort, we’ve put an exciting survey into the field to gather the perspective of diverse leaders from nonprofits, funders, and the consultants who work with them. I invite you to take the survey today!

[bctt tweet=”.@fundthepeople & Center for Urban & Racial Equity @equity_center launching research on investing in intersectional #racialequity in #nonprofit #workforce. Take their survey today: https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/v8B3ZA” username=”fundthepeople” #fundthepeople]

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