BoardSource 2017 Finds a New Platform for Action in the Face of Declining Diversity

The 2017 version of Leading with Intent from BoardSource is a treasure trove of information about nonprofit board trends, but its purview is far too broad for us to manage in the context of one article. Therefore, NPQ will divide its coverage into a small series, with this first being the headliner. We mean for these pieces to further both exploration and action, so look for our webinar series that will launch next week in combination with BoardSource.

After a fraught last few years in terms of national attention to issues of race, one would expect that nonprofit boards would demonstrate at least a modicum of advancement in the realm of diversity. The comparative statistics shown in Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices tell a different story. Based on a recent biennial survey, any advances between 2015 and 2017 regarding the leadership positions of board chair and CEO were marginal ones. The proportionate number of board members of color even decreased slightly, as the number of groups with all-white boards increased from 25 percent of those surveyed in 2015 to 30 percent now.

What’s worse yet is that few if any boards appear all that concerned about the issue. As Vernetta Walker, Chief Governance Officer and Vice President of BoardSource, says, that’s unacceptable in a sector that purports to represent whole communities.

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