About six months ago, I wrote an article titled “Does our leadership reflect our community?”. I wasn’t sure the reaction I’d get once it came out. Would friends and colleagues take my criticism well? Would they take it to heart and would it spur a deeper discussion among their boards and at meetings?
I’m happy to report that I received many encouraging emails and an onslaught of non-profit Board Chairman who emailed me asking for assistance. In response, our chamber beefed up our Leadership Board on our website where we list leadership opportunities on Boards, Commissions and Committees and encourage members of our chamber and our Tucson Hispanic Leadership Institute graduates to connect.
Since that time, I’ve had many more conversations. I’ve also created a spreadsheet and done a bit of research to see for myself how engaged the Latino community is on some of the more influential boards in our region. I’m sad to tell you that it doesn’t look good. Though the Latino community represents 42% of Tucson and is estimated to the majority of Pima County’s population by 2030, there are very few Latino leaders serving. In many cases, a Non-Profit may have just one or two people who one would describe as representing the Latino community even though many of our non-profits are serving predominately Latino constituents.
I begin doing some informal research and found that the Non-Profit Executive Directors I spoke with and the 60+ Non-Profits who are members of our Tucson Hispanic Chamber have prioritized having a diverse board (including age, gender and ethnicity). I heard again and again that they simply lacked the network to find qualified candidates to serve. That started me thinking. Certainly anyone who knows me well can tell you that I value my network of friends and connections. How could our chamber systemize a process to promote rising Latino leaders and encourage more of our Latino community to volunteer for leadership positions?
Nationally, I didn’t find any great answers. Boardsource, a national non-profit education organization created an index in 2012 that confirmed that of the Boards they surveyed in the nation:
White: 82% of all board members are white
Male: 55% of all board members are male
Older: 58% of all board members are 50 years of age or older
1Based on data from BoardSource’s 2012 Nonprofit Governance Index.
Every non-profit leader reading this knows that there is nothing more important to the health and sustainability of your organization than getting highly qualified and enthusiastic people to serve on your board. Boardsource tells us that many organizations struggle to identify the right leaders.
Almost one-half of nonprofit leaders report that it is difficult to recruit new members. (2012 BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index)Almost one-third of chief executives report that they do not have the right board members to effectively govern their organizations. (2010 BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index)As our Tucson Hispanic Chamber pondered this challenge, we knew we were tackling a dilemma that when solved could positively impact our economy and bolster the leadership in our region. Connections made on influential boards often lead to business transactions, new careers and economic opportunities for those that serve.
Our solution: We are embarking on a 30% challenge and hope that our non-profits in business, social service and other industries follow our lead. We ask that each non-profit commit to grow their Board demographics over time to 30% Latino. This is not a numbers game. This is an awareness that in many cases a majority of the people you are serving are Latino. How better to develop programs and services that to receive feedback from the very people you are serving. In addition, the 30% Challenge betters the economic future for our Latino population. Latinos need to be “at the table” making decisions that impact our communities, raising dollars for worthy causes and serving as role models to our younger generations.
Our Tucson Hispanic Chamber is prepared to help! Any non-profit in the State is welcome to post their leadership opportunity at http://www.tucsonhispanicchamber.org/leadership-opportunities.htm. We plan to promote the site heavily to our over 1000 member businesses and their employees. In addition, four years ago we partnered with Valle del Sol to co-host the Tucson Hispanic Leadership Institute. It runs for 10 weeks beginning every February. We now have over 80 graduates that we are actively working to place on Boards and Committees. We are recruiting now for the 2015 class. Please consider referring a rising leader in your organization by clicking here for more information: http://www.tucsonhispanicchamber.org/hispanic-leadership-institute.htm. We also plan to write articles, blogs, use social media and reach out to Latino leaders in our region and ask them to serve. We are also planning Boardsmanship training classes for members of our chamber who already sit on a Board or aspire to do so.
So… I hope you’ll not think me too forward to call out this challenge to our region. I’ve lived here most of my life and know that Southern Arizona is up to it and can accomplish the 30% challenge over time. Please email me directly with questions and to let me know that your non-profit accepts the challenge. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.