Waiting for unicorns: The supply and demand of diversity and inclusion


unicorn memeThe question I am asked most frequently—after “Vu, have you tried using Proactiv?”—is “Vu, would you consider joining so-and-so board/committee? If not, can you connect me to other leaders of color who might be interested?” Apparently, everyone is having a hard time finding people of color for their board of directors and 80’s-karaoke-night planning team.

There are tons of reports and articles with depressing statistics about diversity in nonprofit leadership at all levels. Here’s an eye-opening article called “The Nonprofit Sector Has a Ferguson Problem,” which cites several stats that make me want to stay in bed streaming Netflix for the rest of the year:

  • only 8% of board members are people of color,
  • nearly a third of nonprofit boards don’t have a single board member of color
  • only 7% of CEO/EDs are people of color
  • only 18% of nonprofit staff are people of color
  • only 5% of philanthropic orgs are led by people of color

This is alarming when so many—probably the majority of—clients served by the nonprofit sector are from communities of color. To the sector’s credit, however, people are trying really hard to be more inclusive. According to this informative report from Board Source, in 2010 only 28% of surveyed nonprofit leaders were satisfied with the diversity of their current board, and 71% believed that more diversity would lead to increased effectiveness.

There is clearly a problem, and people are starting to recognize it. Finding people of color to join boards is like hunting for four-leafed clovers. Which is why there is a lot of advice for the sector, including on how to increase one’s chances:

  • Having organizations publicly disclose board composition on 990s
  • Funders requiring organizations that don’t have strong diversity to have a plan to diversify
  • Trying more culturally competent outreach strategies such as using ethnic media
  • Creating and formalizing organizational diversity policies
  • Bringing people on in groups of two or three to reduce isolation
  • Creating an organizational/board culture that is welcoming of people with diverse backgrounds, such as by having culturally-appropriate snacks like spring rolls.

These are all great and may work in the short term. But the huge problem with our sector’s diversity strategies is that they increase demand without increasing supply. Doing this just ups the burden that leaders of color have to bear. The focus on equity and cultural competencies have led to us being approached constantly to be involved or to give pro-bono guidance. Nonprofit leaders of color like me stretch ourselves thin, engaged in multiple efforts outside our organizations. We do it because we know well-meaning-but-actually-terrible decisions (aka, WMBAT decisions) often get made if we’re not there. (See “When wombats go wild: Cultural competency at the mezzo and macro levels.“)

Four-leaf_cloverBut there are not many of us, so we are tired. If the sector really wants to solve this diversity gap, we cannot just keep believing that there is magical land full of unicorns and people of color anxious to join the next advocacy or development committee, and that we just need to find it. Things need to change significantly, and systemically, on the supply side. Things that we haven’t even thought are relevant to this discussion. Here is what I recommend, to start, and if some of these suggestions sound familiar, it’s because they constantly need to be on the forefront of everyone’s mind:

Fund communities-of-color led nonprofits. If you’ve ever hunted for four-leafed clovers, you know that only 1 out of 10,000 clovers or so will be lucky. Well, imagine if there’s a special patch that’s miraculously 90% four-leaf clovers. Wouldn’t you want to pay special attention and give extra water to that patch to make sure it’s successful? You know how only 18% of nonprofit staff are people of color in the field? Well, here’s a fun fact: 95% of staff of nonprofits led by communities of color are people of color! If we grow these organizations to be successful, they become awesome and reliable and expanding sources of dedicated, qualified professionals of color. (See “Are you or your org guilty of Trickle-Down Community Engagement?”)

Support pipeline programs targeting bringing leaders of color into the field. If we want professionals of color in the field, we can’t just hope they’ll magically appear. We need to actively support and help them develop. That’s what my organization, Rainier Valley Corps (RVC), is doing: We are recruiting passionate emerging leaders of color, providing them with ongoing mentorship and training, and sending them to work full-time to develop the capacity of community-of-color-led nonprofits. The first cohort of twelve leaders will start this September, and a new cohort will be added each year. We need programs like RVC to succeed and to be replicated everywhere.

Fund leadership programs specifically targeting leaders of color. There are tons of leadership programs out there, and the mainstream ones are always better funded. And then they have trouble recruiting people of color to enroll. Meanwhile, there are great leadership programs exclusive to leaders of color, and they always struggle for funding. Fund them! Being a leader of color is exhausting, as I talked about earlier in “The Game of nonprofit and how it leaves some communities behind.” If we do not have programs teaching us how to navigate both the mainstream nonprofit system, as well as our own sometimes-crazy cultural dynamics, how are we supposed to be effective? One program, of which I am an alum, is United Way of King County’s Project LEAD. I went through that nearly a decade ago, and still use stuff I learned there.

Support up-and-coming leaders of color. Since I started writing this blog, I frequently get emails from professionals of color who are very frustrated about and hurt by the dynamics at their organizations. They often get paid less and are more likely passed up for promotions. And often they are pressured to tackle disproportionately burdensome responsibilities that come with being people of color, such as leading cultural events and educational workshops, interpreting, translating, and representing their orgs at diversity discussions. Check in with your staff of color. Review your org’s compensation to make sure it’s fair and equitable. Check your workload distribution to make sure professionals of color are not unfairly burdened. And support them to develop professionally, including joining other organizations’ boards and committees. If we all do that, we will increase the number of professionals of color who have the time and energy and skills to do stuff, and the field will be better for it.

Change hiring policies and practices. Our hiring practices suck for many people, especially those from marginalized communities. I’ll write more about this later, but basically, so many people of color get passed up because they don’t have the best resume or cover, so they don’t make it to interviews. Or they don’t say exactly the right things on interviews. But isn’t it hypocritical to say we value diversity, and then penalize people because they have diverse experiences and ways of presenting themselves? I recommend, unless it’s absolutely critical, to not make college degrees a requirement on job listings. And hire for passion and dedication; you can teach everything else. 18 percent of professionals being people of color is unacceptable, and mainstream hiring practices are a significant part of the problem.

Change inequitable nonprofit dynamics, especially funding dynamics: As I mentioned repeatedly in the past, the current nonprofit structure, especially the funding structure, is deeply inhospitable to communities of color. The relationship-based funding model is inequitable, since communities of color don’t have the same strength of relationships. Restrictive one-year grants are crappy and disproportionately affecting marginalized communities. And relying on the best-written grant, based on mainstream definitions of “capacity” and “readiness” are also leaving people behind. These dynamics inequitably affect people and nonprofits of color. If POC-led nonprofits are barely surviving, how are their leaders supposed to be focusing time and energy to be involved with mainstream efforts such as collective impact and 80’s karaoke night? And then we wonder why there are not enough people of color to go around.

All of us are pretty much in agreement that diversity is awesome and leads to increased spring rollseffectiveness. The data overwhelmingly supports this. (It’s midnight. Please don’t make me cite studies. Just Google it). This is why everyone is scrambling to find talented people of color to add to their team. But being more inclusive and just waiting and hoping to get lucky is not enough. The sector needs to be proactive. This increase in the demand, if it does not come with an equal increase in the supply, is exhausting the current leaders of color in the field. We are tired, you guys. We cannot keep getting asked to do stuff. Please, send reinforcement. And tell them to bring spring rolls.


In an effort to generate discussion, I am asking for your thoughts in the comments below. You can write what you like, or, if you’re very busy, just choose one or more of the pre-written comments below:

A. Vu, I completely agree with you. We can’t just increase demand without working on supply.
B. Supply and demand? I got into this sector to avoid talking all them fancy words.
C. I completely disagree with you. There are plenty of people of color in the field. We just need to find them.
D. Can you talk more about House of Cards?
E. You really should try Proactiv. It worked for my cousin.

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34 thoughts on “Waiting for unicorns: The supply and demand of diversity and inclusion

  1. Tim Canning

    A. And you nailed it with: ” isn’t hypocritical to say we value diversity, and then penalize people because they have diverse experiences and ways of presenting themselves? “

  2. Lauren

    Can someone clarify something HR related for me? I was once on a job interview panel. We were informed that due to federal and local regulations set up to prevent discrimination, we weren’t supposed to consider the person’s skin color, ethnicity, etc. So while we had candidates who were people of color, we didn’t give their applications additional weight because of that, and eventually they fell out of the running, because although they were good candidates, others proved stronger. How do we balance encouraging diversity while meeting regulations?

    1. Erica_JS

      I’ve often seen a hiring criterion phrased as “cultural competence and deep understanding of issues facing the communities where we work” or some such. Since that is ultimately what you’re trying to get at, and directly relevant to the work, it’s not discriminatory. POC will be far more likely to have this competency although it’s not the only way.

    2. Roland Carette-Meyers

      The specific and standard measures of a potential employee’s potential worth (college education, rich and dynamic employment history, etc) seem to have been established in a world before ours, one before such anti-discrimination efforts went into effect. Assuming that value is directly related to time spent in an institution of higher learning is to assume that value is directly related to privilege. This privilege is often directly related to race, but not necessarily and, so, avoids bumping into any overtly racial hiring policies. Revisiting the metrics for recruiting and retaining potential employees can be evolved to examine a person’s resume much more holistically and embrace their unique journey.

  3. Julie Reiskin

    Great post–changing what we value is where this needs to start –if we only value organizations with great balance sheets and so much infrastructure that they can produce the perfect reports, studies, external evaluations, etc. then organizations that are made up of marginalized populations can never win. Moreover, people from marginalized communities usually want to get to the work, rather than go on and on about process. The other big difference I have seen is that people from marginalized communities are increasingly less patient with the need to sugar coat everything and want to call it as we see it. The majority are often uncomfortable with this so some of us are frequently “shushed” or otherwise shamed. This behavior which I think is bullying creates a flight or fight response and since there are only so many things we can fight we tend to just leave.

  4. Marjorie Williams

    A. BUT… my funders want more diversity on my board now. By the time supply meets demand, they will have found another Bright Shiny Object that’s out of sync with what’s available. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done. Doing what you say above is the right thing to do in the first place.

    And don’t do D. I didn’t have time to renew my Netflix and binge this weekend. I’m going to need until mid May, we have a fundraiser almost every weekend until then. Frank Underwood will have to wait.

  5. Ashley Fontaine

    “Hire for passion and dedication; you can teach everything else.” Yes! I almost lost sight of this recently; it’s tough when you’re swimming in applicants the way Scrooge McDuck swims in coins. But enthusiasm and passion to learn are things you can’t really teach someone, so why focus so hard on the parts that can be taught at the neglect of a key ingredient that can’t?

    I second Lauren’s HR question.

    D! D! D! “That’s how you devour a whale Doug, one bite at a time.” Increasing supply is our whale…

  6. Patricia Osage

    President Underwood had no problem getting an ethnic minority individual as his Chief of Staff. We should all follow his example! 😉

  7. Calandra

    Yes, especially to the hiring issue. Many non-profits I have worked for are inundated with applications, so only the supremely “qualified” rise to the top. I’d love to hear more about how to go about the hiring process so that we bring different kinds of people to the table. The last hire I made had 270 applicants. How do you whittle that down to eight interviews and keep both skill sets and passion and backgrounds at the top of the decision making process? It’s hard and takes a lot of reflection as you are going through the process.

  8. AABLI

    Vu, this is a very thoughtful and much needed post about the diversity issues nonprofits face. The African American Board Leadership Institute (AABLI) was created to address the need of diversity of thought and experience on governing boards. AABLI recruits, trains and assists African American professionals to serve in leadership positions in nonprofit organizations, universities and local/state commissions. Diversity is more than just a buzz word. It’s a reflection of the organization’s culture and its decision making.

  9. verucaamish

    I think the challenge is diversity is problematic without true inclusion. A Super awesome colleague says diversity is having marbles of every color. Inclusion is USING all the colors of marbles in your bag. I know I’m a unicorn, I’ve worked a total of three jobs in my lifetime that wasn’t predominantly POC – which actually makes your point since half of the organizations I’ve worked for are National AAPI nonprofits). But when I’ve participated in boards of predominantly white organizations, it’s trickle down community engagement all the way.

  10. Bookda Gheisar

    Thanks for your great post! I have binders full of amazingly competent people of color interested in board involvement and meaningful jobs but sick and tired of working for organizations who do not have a social justice analysis! who wants to be that ONE person of color who is always pointing out the problems?

    1. Kirtrina Baxter

      This is so true! And ultimately this leads to that person feeling isolated, misunderstood, and eventually leaving. Or folding and just being miserable at their job, not wanting to “upset the waters” for fear of job insecurity.

  11. Susan Detwiler

    I just posted this with the comment “Grow your own!”. I hear so many tales of woe from mainstream community organizations that they can’t find people of color. And I hear tales of woe from the ‘brand name’ people of color in my community that they just can’t sit on another board. Let’s mentor folks!

    1. Kirtrina Baxter

      Susan if you read Roy’s post above you will see why just mentoring folks to be on boards is not the only answer. Board environments pose more of a threat to diversifying than anything. Also, we need to be conscious that there is never just one way to deal with an issue effectively. We should be applying multiple solutions to achieving our goals of equality.

    2. Kirtrina Baxter

      I also find “brand name” poc very offensive. Wow! Is that a term they are throwing around now? I mean I understand the context but when we start buying into these terms and using them because it’s easier, we are adding to the condition of dehumanizing people. I think that’s why I had such a difficult time in a post earlier trying to define the “types of people” that are engaged to be on boards, because I didn’t want to make any one seem “less than” desireable although I know that is the common practice. Being more thoughtful about how we communicate our messages is another thing to add to the list of what needs to be remedied.

      1. Susan Detwiler

        Kirtrana, thanks for the education, and I want you to be aware that the phrase ‘brand name’ was used in the same vein that it has been used for ‘brand name’ board members or ‘brand name’ lawyers or ‘brand name’ actors. Not just people of color, but the people that everyone knows because their names have become ubiquitous. I live in a community with a handful of African American people who are called on just as Vu is — they are the ones who have been visible, therefore they continue to be the ones who are asked.

        Also, mentoring is not just for the individuals. It’s for the boards who are seeking a greater cultural diversity. In my work I have seen too many boards respond with ‘we already tried putting a POC on our board and it didn’t work.’ If those boards were mentored on how to bring new people onto the board, and how to encourage substantive interaction within the board, and how to make sure they’re not engaging in just tokenism, then perhaps we could make a little more headway.

        1. Kirtrina Baxter

          I understand what it means perfectly Susan, which is what I said earlier. I’m sure the word is not only used for POC, although, does that make using it better or more acceptable? My statement is about humanity and treating “people” like humans, not clothing lines, be they lawyers, board members or actors. I am not just aware of my culture but of the need for people to be treated fairly and honorably. So I was not just offended by the term for black people or people of color but that this type of language is used to describe people period.

          I lived in 2 towns with a small population of POC for 9 years and I was one of those people who was asked to be on multiple boards, advisory, steering committee’s ect. So when I said I understood, I meant it. I’m wondering if you chose to explain your statement because you really didn’t think I understood or if you just felt the need to defend yourself. However, I am glad you did this so that I can explain that it is this type of “second guessing” of my intellect/experience (or whatever) that causes people of color to be weary of being in environments dominated by white people.

          Now had you just said, thanks for the education, and then sat with what the people on this thread have been saying, rather than spending energy on defending your statements, you may have really gained something through this thread. As it stands, I feel like you just want to be perceived like someone who “gets it”. And this comes from years of working in environments with so-called allies who constantly prove to us people of color that they don’t, by making statements like yours above.

          I will no longer co-sign to this type of behavior with a friendly 🙂 and LOL. Your response could be perceived as passive-aggressive. I am not so gullible as to be placated with a “thanks for the education” while your statements clearly say otherwise. And I assure you other POC in your community are not so easily deceived either, though they may not say so aloud. However, if we don’t start addressing these type situations and working through them, these issues will never be resolved.

          So, what made you feel the need to explain yourself? And were you really thankful for the “education”? and which statement/s were you referring to? Because if you were thankful for something you gained in my post or others, I would imagine you would have commented on why you were thankful or what spoke to you instead of defending your statements.

          I didn’t even make my former statements against you. I was actually just referring to the term being used at all. Though since you responded so defensively, I figured I would make this an actual teaching moment. I hope you truly gained something this time around.

          1. Susan Detwiler

            Wow, indeed, Kirtrina. Offense can also be given under the guise of education. Treating an individual fairly and honorably also includes hearing where they are coming from, and assuming good intent.

  12. Roy Gathercoal

    I am concerned that “diversity” here gets reduced to “people of color”. While communities of people of color are underrepresented, and that needs to change, other underrepresented communities are even less present in our not-for-profit board rooms.

    (1) People with disabilities. Somewhere between 10% and 20% of our neighbors have significant disabilities, yet they are seldom represented. This problem is compounded when you realize that a person with a vision limitation lives in a completely different world from the person with a mobility limitation. Often accommodations are required for people with disabilities to participate on boards and committees, so it is given a pass. . . WAIT!!! Those barriers to participation ought not to be there in the first place! If our not-for-profits got into the habit of sticking up for the large group of very isolated people with disabilities, it would go a long way to removing the stigma. By the way–people with disabilities are the group with the highest unemployment rate.

    (2) The real challenge for a board is to find a person of color who is well educated, fully employed, and solidly middle class. Those ugly people from the lower classes are just not acceptable. Not because they have nothing to say, but because they don’t play the same small social games we play. It is so much work to get someone from a different SES accepted onto a board. Of course, most of our not-for-profits are here to serve these others, but our goal ought to be to somehow appear to represent them without having to change the way we do our middle-class business in our middle-class meetings with our middle-class mannerisms governed by our middle-class sensibilities.

    There is no challenge at all finding board members who represent the people we serve. The problem is finding someone who looks like the people we serve, who is really like us, instead. While preserving this us/them distinction.

    (3) Someone at some time and place decided what board meetings ought to look like. They identified a way of sitting, a way of deciding upon and presenting the agenda, elaborate rules for dissent and discussion, and even a range of acceptable accommodations for board members. Those who don’t get these, or who cannot be easily trained because the hard work of acculturation has already been done by society, are way too much work.

    If we were to throw out “the way things are done” and start with the question “what do we really want from our board and how can we nurture a meeting to best achieve this?” it is unlikely to look like the circle around the table with printed agenda and one person speaking at a time.

    If you want diversity, you must be willing to change the way you do things. Middle-class rituals will end up selecting for middle-class people (or aspirants) every single time. Others will say “I don’t need to put up with this shit.” Because if it doesn’t come from culture, it feels like play-acting.

    (4) Diversity in age and years in the community. Yes, you need a board that is intensely savvy and knowledgeable about the organization, the mission and the community being served. This does not mean that every board member needs to begin that way. We are typically cool about bringing in some banker who is willing to serve but who doesn’t know a thing about our served community, yet consistently resist bringing in an elder, or a youth, or a newcomer to the community, to get their perspectives. And yes, accommodations will have to be made, including possibly a designated mentor/partner on the board to support them through the novel experience and provide some running context commentary on what this all means.

    It amazes me how in one setting young people shoulder huge responsibilities, big budgets, and complex undertakings, while in the next door down the hall they are considered not able to have anything to contribute except perhaps some energy and some insight into what young people think. (Neither of which most youth are prone to get excited about providing.)

    We tend to do better with people who are older, but our participation is often limited to those with specific and direct experience in the business aspect of part of our service. How about a 73-year-old former housewife?

    The thread though these scattered thoughts is accommodation. If we want diversity in insight and perspective, we must find ways of welcoming diversity in communicative practices and in social interactions among board members. No matter what the community, people have to feel like they belong before they decide to hang around.

    1. Kirtrina Baxter

      Roy, you quite eloquently said what I have been trying to say throughout this thread!! 🙂 AWESOME! Yes! Why do board meetings have to look like that? LOL!! And people with disabilities should not be excluded either. This speaks to the complexity of intersectionality in marginalized groups in society and our need to start addressing this. Thanks for this very thoughtful post.

  13. Sarah Morrigan

    The only issue that I have with your suggestion is that I have seen so many times where people of color, or LGBTQAIP folks, or low-income people are added to a non-profit board simply as a token, but end up having no actual influence in a way how the organization is governed. Also, the whole notion of “people of color” is based on very broad stereotypes and assumptions, and is racist. I know of several people whose parents — both — are African-Americans but they are often seen as “white.” There are Native Americans who are enrolled in recognized tribes, but they look “white,” so they are often dismissed by people-of-color-seeking organizations. Likewise, someone who is a child of a billionaire in Hong Kong — grown up in a life of privilege and high status — is markedly different from an undocumented immigrant from a poor village in Guatemala, yet they are both considered “people of color.” The former tend to be more convenient for the non-profits, yet they can still claim that they have an Asian in their board of directors. I may be old-fashioned, but I do believe in American ideal of color-blindness, in which any and every person is afforded the same opportunities based on merit, not colors of their skin, just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said in his “I have a dream” speech.

    1. Javier Womeldorff

      I certainly agree that not all people of color are the same and bring with them a wide range of privilege in addition to their appearance to the table. I think the problem is that even with an extremely broad definition, the numbers are still pitifully low.

    2. Kirtrina Baxter

      That dream is based on an equitable power base among ethnicity that we just don’t have in our society so I don’t delude myself into thinking it will come into play without continued activism and education. And there is no American ideal of color-blindness that is not rooted in racism and privilege. I don’t believe that “color-blindness” is what Dr King was speaking to.

  14. Javier Womeldorff

    A) Although I wonder Vu if POC are being disproportionately being approached. I’m not sure we can generalize your experience to all POC as you are a decently high profile person in the community speaking about these issues. Most of those I know that are POC never get approached or recruited. Maybe the supply is higher than we think but organizations are not making the active efforts that are needed to connect candidates we seek with the opportunities that are there? I think it’s always a little foolish to think that putting opportunities “out there” and then assume that the specific candidates we are seeking will just come running in. Do we have a supply problem as much as we have a concerted recruitment problem and a genuine desire to BE more diverse and not just LOOK more diverse?

    1. Javier Womeldorff

      Sorry that first sentence came out differently than in my head. I wonder if different POC are being approached at very different rates.

      1. Kirtrina Baxter

        Javier, I don’t think you are off the point at all. I find that there is a certain type of POC that is engaged for non-profit board work. Access has a lot to do with it. Generally those who are advocates for their communities and “agreeable” in a way, that does not mean goes along with others agendas but are personable, intellectual and willing to serv (not sure if I’m doing that description justice). These POC tend to be more present in certain circles because of their advocacy work and are therefore engaged. So, yes, it is not hard-core recruitment on the boards part. And I think there are a larger number of people who may be willing to do board work but they are not engaged because they either don’t fit into this narrow view of who is relevant or because the board is not looking in any unfamiliar places. So I would add that being educated, either formally or informally and having the language to navigate in a variety of setting is not so much an uncommon thing for POC but the element of being willing to do that sort of work is uncommon, which causes those who do have these traits to be over taxed or sought after. Check my post above where I speak to some reasons POC are sometimes unwilling to do that sort of work.

  15. Louis Mendoza

    Vu, thank you for addressing this important topic and for mentioning Project LEAD, the program I manage. I’d like to add that even individuals who are well trained to serve on boards need to carefully vet the organizations they are considering joining. This means asking questions and gathering information that help them join a board that is a good match for them. Part of that is making sure you’re not joining a board that is diversifying to give the politically correct impression. I often get calls from agencies looking to diversify their boards. In those conversations I like to stress two things: that the executive director and the board are clear on what they expect to gain by diversifying (it shouldn’t be just to check off a box) and that the people they recruit bring something to the table (e.g. a skill or network) that fills a board need. Here’s another take on this subject: The Face of Nonprofit Boards: A Network Problem http://bit.ly/1Fbfm7K

  16. Kirtrina Baxter

    Interestingly, in food justice, you have many organizations with programs designed to create leadership in young people, though these programs do not help create or find jobs for these young people after graduation. Even those young people who go off to college, most times cannot get jobs in this related field during summer break. The lack of adult leaders of color is all too obvious, to me-a person of color, though not much of a problem for these organizations who feel they are reaching the population they want to serve and don’t value black leadership among the staff running these programs. Of course I the lack of diversity on boards is such a large issue, because the few leaders of color in the field, are also very active in their communities, could have families, and are not comfortable in the environment at a board meeting. And if you work all day in an office where you are not valued or your ideas and input is not valued, why would you willing put yourself in after-work commitments that feel the same?

    1. Kirtrina Baxter

      I have a difficult time even asking my friends to join boards because I know the dynamics and am unwilling to send them into the “shark tank”. The formal way in which a lot of boards are run are so uninviting, boring and exclusive, it’s like, if I’m not getting paid to be here, why would I do this? Especially because we tend to be more action oriented and can feel that our help on the ground is more effective in our communities. It is really a catch 22.

    2. verucaamish

      That’s a HUGE problem. It’s so circular because it’s hard to do the recruiting for people from marginalized communities when you know organizations don’t have the hearts and minds/structures/policies to truly value and lift up their contributions. The core question in this post and in this thread is: how open is an organization to true transformation to reflect an anti-racist framwork? Earlier in this thread, someone asked about hiring and having a pool that was diverse with “color-blind” hiring policies. Upthread Lauren talk about having strong candidates of color but having stronger white candidates. It could be a transformative moment to examine what makes a strong candidate? In so many fields a strong candidate is defined as someone who’s worked in a particular movement. If the movement is predominantly white without and anti-racist frame, who do you cut out with that criteria?

  17. Katrina D Jeffries

    Wow. This thread is blowing my mind. As a POC who has served on boards as the only POC for many years it’s refreshing to find this blog. I agree with Roy on many points. I am highly educated, culturally diverse and very articulate, but I don’t fit the mold of what a board member is supposed to look like. People often assume I am there to represent an “underserved population” and are surprised when I can serve it up the way they dish it out.
    I think we have to be careful
    not to recruit POC to represent a socio-economic diversity. It is tedious to sit in board meetings an hear the same issues discussed over an over. There’s also the social aspect of boards where things get discussed and decided outside the structure of the organization. Mentoring might be the solution. I am just going to keep on reading this blog and live and learn.

  18. Anthony

    As a POC that is aspiring to find my place in the nonprofit sector I wanted to highlight the fact that the non-profit pipeline programs that are currently available often have a cohort that is mainly white. These spaces often leave me feeling othered, especially because the attitudes towards the communities we work with drastically vary. I have also felt alienated because I feel like I have to achieve a standard of “professionalism” that I can’t perform as easily as my white peers.

    Also, what did you think of the Remy storyline where he gets pulled over by the cops? It felt pretty forced to me, like I was being patronized. (I feel like I should mention that I’m referencing House of Cards here)

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