May 20, 2009

Foundations Lack Board Diversity, Says Report

Foundations are failing to recruit diverse board leadership, with Hispanics being the most under represented compared to their growing number in American society, according to a new report.

The report, by the Greenlining Institute, a public-policy advocacy group in Berkeley, Calif., that has pushed foundations to give more to minority causes, said a quarter of the board members at the 46 wealthiest foundations in America are Hispanic, black, or Asian. Thirteen of the grant makers — 28 percent — had no board members from the three racial and ethnic populations.

The percentages of people on foundation boards who are black or Asian are roughly equal to their part of the American population — roughly 12 and 4 percent, respectively.

But Greenlining said Hispanics, which are the fastest-growing minority group in the country, represent 15 percent of the population, but only 8 percent of the 46 organizations’ board members. More than half the foundations examined do not have one Hispanic board member, it added.

“The example of placing value on diversity begins at the board level, and extends to the decisions made at the staff level,” the report says. “Given the increasingly multicultural and multiethnic nature of American society, foundations cannot continue to fall behind as the future moves towards greater inclusiveness.”

The report will be available Friday on Greenlining’s Web site.