Little Progress On Staff, Executive Diversity

July 28, 2017       Mark Hrywna      

Representation of women and minorities at philanthropic organizations is essentially unchanged over the last decade and actually decreases from the administrative level to the executive staff, although data show some improvements in diversity at the largest foundations.

“The State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector,” released yesterday by the Council on Foundations (CoF) aims to spark a dialogue about what works and what can be done to make progress in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Women have represented the majority of the philanthropic workforce for several years yet there remains a lack of proportional representation of women to men in leadership positions when compared to other levels within participant organizations.

“Our report raises important questions about why there hasn’t been more change in the diversity of our institutions in recent years, despite the steps taken to create a more diverse and inclusive philanthropic sector,” CoF President and CEO Vikkie Spruill. “The retention and development of a diverse talent pool is critically important as the demographics of our nation continue to change,” she said.

“State of Change” uses two data sets to paint a picture of diversity within the field and how demographics of foundation staff have changed over time. A matched set of 455 foundations that participated in CoF surveys from 2011 to 2015 is supplemented by an observational set examining responses to CoF surveys in both 2006 and 2015. The observational data set includes more than 6,000 positions for 2006 and more than 8,000 in 2011.

Women represented 77 percent of professional positions in 2015 but only 60 percent of executive leadership. A 75/25 percent split among women and men has changed less than 1 percent over the past decade.

From 2006 to 2015, there was an increase of 1.68 percent in the total number of minority staff reported, from 22.65 percent to 24.33 percent. During that same period, changes in minority representation did see notable differences among foundations with more than $1 billion in assets: Minority staff among all levels grew 4.1 percent, from 31.5 percent to 35.6 percent.

The matched data set echoes the broader observation with a difference of just 0.76 percent between 2011 and 2015, consistent with year-over-year demographic data for foundations by asset levels and age. Foundations with more than $1 billion in assets were home to more diverse staff yet the proportion of minority staff over that time increase less than 1 percent.

For more information and to download the full report, visit cof.org/stateofchange

  • Council on Foundations
  • foundations
  • The State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector
  • Vikki Spruill