Let’s Be Fair… It’s Time to Eliminate the Nonprofit Pay Gap

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By David Deschenes

Three out of four people working in the nonprofit sector are women, yet men hold a disproportional share of the highest-paid nonprofit jobs. In fact, the share of women in top management jobs decreases as an organization’s budget increases. Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fonte was the only woman named among the highest-paid executives leading one of the nation’s 10 top charities in 2018, according to a Forbes ranking.

This inequity starts at the very beginning of professional careers: women are paid about 7 percent less than men as soon as they graduate from college, according to a AAUW study, even among men and women who majored in the same field.

So, what can nonprofits do to address this inequity? For starters, look at your board.

There is a correlation between the number of women on nonprofit boards and the likelihood of organizations hiring a female CEO or promoting women to leadership positions: an organization is 17% more likely to have a female CEO when between a third and half of the board’s voting members are women, compared with when less than a third are female.

In our last e-newsletter, we spoke to the importance of racial and cultural diversity in nonprofit organizations. Research and practice demonstrate that an organization can be more effective and impactful if it is diverse and reflective of its community. The same holds true for ensuring equity in hiring and pay for women in nonprofits.

Workers who believe they are paid fairly are more likely to contribute their best efforts to their job. All nonprofit organizations, large and small, must make a conscious effort to acknowledge the considerable amount of research that points to the benefits of eliminating the pay gap for women in all industries. For more information, click onto the links below: