Gender Gap, Lack of Diversity in Foundation Staff Persist, Study Finds

Gender Gap, Lack of Diversity in Foundation Staff Persist, Study Finds

Racial and ethnic minorities continue to be underrepresented at all levels in U.S. foundations, while significant gender and age gaps also remain, an annual survey by the Council on Foundations finds.

Based on a survey of nine hundred and seventy grantmakers, the 2017 Grantmaker and Salary Benefits Report (396 pages, PDF) found that the share of racial and ethnic minorities among full-time staff remained essentially unchanged in 2017 at 25.9 percent, with African Americans accounting for 5 percent of full-time staff, Latino/as accounting for 10 percent, and Asian Americans accounting for 7.5 percent. And while racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 33.8 percent of program officers — down slightly from 35 percent in 2016 — they represented just 11.3 percent of foundation CEOs and presidents.

The report also found that women accounted for 76.5 percent of all full-time staff, including 87.6 percent of administrative staff, 75.7 percent of program officers, 73.5 percent of professional staff, and 56.4 percent of CEOs and presidents overall — the latter down slightly from 58 percent in 2016.

In addition, the survey found that 36.5 percent of all full-time staff and 61.8 percent of CEOs were between the ages of 50 and 64, including 85.7 percent of CEOs at foundations with assets of at least $2 billion; that 5 percent of full-time staff and 16.7 percent of CEOs were age 65 or older; and that individuals under the age of 30 accounted for only 10.6 percent of full-time staff and 0.3 percent of CEOs. People with known disabilities represented just 0.7 percent of all full-time staff and 0.8 percent of CEOs.

"Now more than ever, philanthropy faces a profound challenge: to ensure that staff and leaders at all levels mirror not only the communities they serve and support but also the rich diversity of this nation," said COF president and CEO Vikki Spruill. "To be effective, the work of philanthropy is inextricably tied to the field’s success in attracting, developing, and retaining a more inclusive generation of philanthropic professionals."