The Meaning and Impact of Board and Staff Diversity in the Philanthropic Field: Findings from a National Study

In the midst of an active dialogue within philanthropy on accountability and responsiveness to communities, a prominent fact remains – the staffs and boards of philanthropic institutions have not kept pace with the general population in terms of diversity. If responsiveness and diversity are linked, then foundations must attend to their internal diversity if they wish to offer a more credible outreach to diverse communities. However, diversity means more than numbers; institutional culture and practices must shift as well.
What is the empirical reality that grounds these conjectures? Can we quantify the changes in foundation staffing? How well represented are different identity groups within the field, and how do members of these diverse groups fare in their career advancement? How do different types of foundations address inclusiveness, and what are examples of practices that lead to successful implementation of staff and board diversity? To examine these questions in detail, the Joint Affinity Groups (JAG) developed a multi-stage research project that combined surveys, interviews, and focus groups to reach more than 600 grantmakers nationwide.