Fully two-thirds of the U.S nonprofit workforce are women. This means 9.2 million (of the 12.29 million) American women work in nonprofits, and the sector is the United States’ third-largest workforce.
We have seen progress since 2005 in the number of women at the top of these org charts, according to Guidestar: In small nonprofits, 57 percent of women are now CEOs, as compared to 53 percent. Larger nonprofits led by female CEOs increased from 20 to 30 percent.
Drill down a bit, and we see that women are still more likely to be leading smaller organizations than larger ones: Medium to large organizations are still more likely to be run by a male CEO, with only 18-22 percent of women leading nonprofits with budgets larger than $50 million.
Overall, 45 percent of nonprofit CEOs are women. Nearly half sounds good, right? But remember that 75 percent of the nonprofit workforce are women.
Let’s explore some of the benefits women-led organizations enjoy to highlight why we need to continue to push for females at the pinnacle of nonprofit org charts.
• Research on gender inclusiveness shows us that organizations with females in higher positions have thrived, enjoying solid economic growth.
• Researchers found females in nonprofit leadership positions are more focused on the mission and achieving organizational goals.
• Studies have also shown that there are impactful benefits to emotional intelligence (EQ) in leadership; high EQ leaders build better working relationships and strengthen collaborations. Traits of empathy and EQ tend to be more highly prized—and more frequently displayed–by female leaders.
• According to studies, female leaders also encourage self-regulation, which could be why fewer women burn out than men.
• Employees in nonprofit organizations led by women have been found to be more creative and open to working with one another. This contributes to higher employee satisfaction and overall performance.
• The female leaders studied also had a stronger sense of growth and recognition, leading to lower turnover as employees were encouraged to stay and grow with the company. This type of retention saves the organization money.
• Employees who stay longer are also beneficial to the nonprofit’s image and can help decision-making for prospective employees with interest in joining the company.
These are just a handful of the proven results female leaders bring to the table. Imagine the impact when even more nonprofits are women-led.
By Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, JSG & Associates