Recent studies have found that people of color are underrepresented in nonprofit leadership, making up just 8% of executive directors nationwide.BY MORGAN C. MULLINGS NOVEMBER 5, 2020
Out of all respondents in the Race to Lead survey, 58% of people of color expressed an interest in becoming a leader in their nonprofit, while only 38% of white respondents said the same.BY MORGAN C. MULLINGS NOVEMBER 5, 2020
We have had a long and difficult year. We are dealing with loss, trauma, and some new anxieties due to pandemic stress. But I’m not talking about something new or due to pandemic stress here. I’m talking about something we’ve been struggling with since before the pandemic and now we in the bipoc community have pandemic stress on top of this.
I see nonprofits taking steps to make sure they’re being more inclusive in the nonprofit sector. It brings me joy. But at the end of the day, it’s not about what other nonprofit leaders are doing. It’s not even about what our future non profit is doing. It’s about what I’m doing as a human, who has endured racism, to create a world where bipoc will never have to endure it themselves, especially the underhanded microaggressions that typically get ignored.
Standing up for the bipoc community isn’t new to me. My natural hair journey started before the hype. It started when I finally found a black hairdresser who taught me to love my hair in all its beauty. She wouldn’t even touch my head with harmful chemicals. I needed that. But the one workplace I worked at didn’t make frizzy hair welcome. They said things like, “just cut it,” “Just style it,” “well, I use products and heat in my hair… ” I heard whispers and such that I also ignored. At that point there was no movement to support my natural hair journey. Not only was there no movement to give me some semblance of support, I am also mixed, raised by a white mom, who worked hard on doing my hair for years, even so there wasn’t a lot of accessible information that would teach me how to do my natural hair without using harmful products. So to sum it all up, I was stepping into a world where I was learning to love my natural hair while learning to style it without harmful products and heat, all while trying to make ends meet(they never met), all while fighting off burnout as a single mom. If I had a workplace where people took the time to understand my hair journey, my life would have been a little bit easier. At that point in my life, I would have gained the support I needed to keep going.
Having my own experiences, my college education, and my love for writing has taught me that making space for people who are underrepresented, is lifesaving. Exclusive behaviors in the workplace, realized or not, cause insecurity, feelings of negative self worth, and lead to depression and anxiety; especially for bipoc individuals with a poor support system.
Advancement can happen, the report found, when employees have proper support to move up. Yet more than half of white respondents said they found support through mentors within their organization, while less than half of people of color said the same.BY MORGAN C. MULLINGS NOVEMBER 5, 2020
Speaking of support system, mentoring is the best way to create upward movement for the bipoc community in the workplace. Mentoring is proven time and time again to create a bridge to success. We know this. Why aren’t we doing more to make sure our bipoc friends and coworkers have the same access to support?
So to summarize, in the non profit sector, the bipoc community is underrepresented, they are less likely to be mentored in the workplace, and more of them want to step up and lead than those from the white community.
What am I going to do to make sure bipoc leaders get more access to leadership positions?
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