Creating an equitable Tampa Bay starts with ensuring we have a diverse pool of leaders and offering them opportunities to lead. Great business and community leaders are trained, prepared, and mentored to help develop and maximize their leadership potential. Great leaders help provide solutions to the many challenges facing our community.
Removing obstacles that have limited access to board service is imperative to diversification. While the pandemic elevated various issues that communities of color have historically faced, we must ensure leaders of color are at the table to assist with uncovering solutions that directly address racial equality and inclusivity.
Diverse boards are crucial to ensuring that organizations have the broad perspectives necessary to understand the needs of communities. Diverse boards creatively address emerging problems, plan effectively, and expand volunteer, partner, and donor engagement. Yet, national research shows 84% of nonprofit board members are white, with one-in-four nonprofits lacking representation from any professionals of color on their boards.
Nonprofits must identify and recruit professionals of color to serve on their board to ensure that racial and ethnic diversity, equity and inclusion are embedded in the very fiber of their organizations. Not only is it critical to foster an equitable community, but it is also essential to strengthen board governance.
In a recent Nonprofit Leadership Center survey of nonprofit CEOs, leaders said the most significant barrier to building a diverse board is having the knowledge and understanding to identify and recruit professionals of color who are passionate about the mission, with many admitting they don’t know where to start.
One solution that addresses the lack of representation on nonprofit boards recently launched right here in Tampa Bay: The Nonprofit Leadership Center’s Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship. With the support of Bank of America, Vistra Communications and several local organizations, the program is designed to prepare professionals of color to serve as effective nonprofit board members. The program includes interactive training, focused mentorship, board governance training and additional sessions designed to help prepare participants to add value to the organizations they will serve. The Fellowship will connect the graduates with nonprofit organizations desiring to diversify their boards.
Fellowship participation will help elevate emerging talent from within the business community to represent and execute their corporate social responsibility in the community. This is a tangible way for the business community to demonstrate commitment to racial equity. Businesses can nominate candidates to participate as a fellow or serve as mentors in this Nonprofit Leadership Center program.
Brian Butler and Bill Goede are co-creators of the Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards Fellowship. Brian Butler is president and CEO of Vistra Communications. Bill Goede is the president of Bank of America Tampa Bay.