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Gender and Race Gaps Narrow Slightly On Boards of Philadelphia Area Meds and Eds

Gender and Race Gaps Narrow Slightly On Boards of Philadelphia Area Meds and Eds

While many have made significant progress since 2019, many still fail to reflect the diversity of constituents and communities

The Women’s Nonprofit Leadership Initiative and the Nonprofit Center of La Salle University have published an updated report focused on the boardrooms of the Philadelphia area’s largest nonprofit medical and educational institutions (“meds” and “eds”).  The report reveals that many have made significant progress in the last three years in increasing the gender and racial diversity of their governing bodies. Many of the boards, however, still fail to reflect the diversity of the staffs, students, patients, and the communities they serve, and board chairs are still predominantly white males.

Closing the Gaps: Gender and Race in Nonprofit Boardrooms” follows their 2019 report on “The Gender Gap in Nonprofit Boardrooms” and is the first report on board diversity in the area based primarily on information from the institutions themselves. In response to direct requests to the relevant 46 eds and meds for data on the overall gender and racial composition of their boards based on how board members self-identify, 72 percent either supplied data or confirmed or corrected data supplied by the researchers. The report uses the researchers’ own data for the 13 organizations that did not respond.

Institutions of all types have increasingly faced pressure to be more transparent and to disclose such information but none of the 46 meds and eds currently has such information on its website. Last August the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a requirement that for-profit companies that list on the Nasdaq stock exchange disclose board diversity statistics annually using a board diversity matrix, a model the report suggests for nonprofits.

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Among the new findings, as of June 1, 2022:

· Women trustees occupy 38% of seats on higher ed boards and 34% of health care seats, up from 33% and 28% respectively in 2019.

· Trustees of color occupy 24% of seats on higher ed boards, and 19% of health care seats, up from 13 % in each of those two categories in 2019.

· Eight of the eds and meds that had less than 30% women on their boards in 2019 now have 30% or more women.

· Twenty-four institutions from the original 2019 group increased their percentage of women trustees, some by dramatic gains.


· White males chair the vast majority of these boards. Eleven are chaired by women, only one of whom is a woman of color. Men of color chair only two boards, one of which is that of an Historically Black University.

· Three meds have no men of color or women of color on their boards. Seven eds and meds have trustees of color who are all the same gender.

· Seven meds and 10 eds fall below a minimum goal of 30% women board members.

Women’s Nonprofit Leadership Initiative and Nonprofit Issues co-published a report on “Increasing Diversity on the Boards of Nonprofit Eds and Meds: Why and How to Do It” in 2020.  That report was written by Vicki W. Kramer and Carolyn T. Adams, two of the principal authors of the two WNLI and La Salle reports.


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