Nonprofit Newswire | Why Are Hispanics Underrepresented on Boards?

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August 28, 2010; Source: Dallas Morning News | Racial and ethnic minorities are underrepresented on nonprofit (and foundation!) governing boards, but Latinos are frequently more underrepresented than others. In Dallas, where there is a significant Hispanic population, nonprofits appear to be working on getting more Latinos into nonprofit governing positions. Why the underrepresentation? One of the two Latino board members at Mi Escuelita Preschool, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, ascribes the problem to the limited “culture of philanthropy” in Mexico. Because so many people in Mexico (and Latinos in Dallas) are so poor, charity is frequently limited to disaster relief, when Latinos pull together but only for a short time. There may be lots of other reasons not mentioned in the Morning News report, but one that we would add, at least from the foundation side, is the lack of concerted effort on recruiting and placing Latinos on foundation boards. There’s often attention to recruiting staff, but fiddling with the composition of foundation boards appears to be verboten. The Morning News focused on Latinos on the boards of groups specifically serving Latino populations.

The bigger question is not simply Latinos serving Latinos, but making sure that the structure of the nonprofit and foundation sectors reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of our society (and that minorities aren’t simply shunted off to nonprofits whose missions and scope are limited to minority communities and populations).—Rick Cohen

  • Jessica Sadoway

    It’s something I’ve worried about frequently, especially here in Arizona where we have a significant Hispanic population without seeing that reflected in board membership.

    This particular observation caught my attention: “Because so many people in Mexico (and Latinos in Dallas) are so poor, charity is frequently limited to disaster relief, when Latinos pull together but only for a short time.”

    I usually attribute the lack of Hispanic board members to the boards not seeking them out as recruits. What never occurred to me was that perhaps not all of the blame lies with the boards. As the Latino board member in the article suggested, perhaps Hispanics are also not seeking out board membership – because their culture of philanthropy is different.

    It’s more of a two-way street than I thought. Not only do existing boards need to step up their inclusion of Hispanic members, but the Hispanic population needs to see the value of seeking out those positions as well. If anyone knows any tricks to get this done, please let me know!