January 25, 2022

This article was published in Candid's Philanthropy News Digest.

Ascending to an executive position does not end struggles with racism for leaders of color in the nonprofit sector, and sometimes increases those challenges, a report from the Building Movement Project finds.

Based on data collected in the summer of 2019 from 5,200 respondents nationally, as well as focus groups conducted in 2019 and 2020 with executive leaders of color and white executive directors/CEOs in Albuquerque, Austin, Boston, Memphis, and Milwaukee, the report, Trading Glass Ceilings for Glass Cliffs: A Race to Lead Report on Nonprofit Executives of Color (26 pages, PDF), found that 49 percent of respondents of color indicated that their race had negatively impacted their advancement, an increase from 35 percent in a 2016 survey. Moreover, nearly one in three executive leaders of color “often” or “always” felt that they lacked opportunities for advancement, compared with fewer than one in five white EDs/CEOs.

According to the report, executive leaders of color are more likely than white leaders to work for identity-based organizations (nearly six in ten, compared with two in ten), which lead to unique leadership experiences. The report also revealed that nonprofit executives of color were less likely than white EDs/CEOs to receive support from peers and affinity groups over their careers, (62 percent vs. 72 percent, respectively); and nonprofit leaders of color were more likely to receive inadequate compensation, as 43 percent of EDs/CEOs of color reported “often” or “always” being frustrated that their salary is not high enough, compared with 31 percent of white EDs/CEOs reporting the same.