Ep 150: Reflection – How My White Privilege Affects My Leadership

by Joan Garry

In this episode, I reflect on how racial bias impacts the lack of leadership diversity in the nonprofit sector — and my own position as a nonprofit leader who benefits from white privilege.


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I have watched countless nonprofit leaders who serve communities of color work tirelessly to educate mostly white boards about the unique challenges that recent events like the ongoing COVID pandemic and the killing of George Floyd have created for their clients.

This lack of nonprofit board diversity is one of the many ways that racial inequality shapes our sector.

To overcome the gaps in lived experience between nonprofit orgs’ executives and boards and the communities they serve, we need to address the white privilege that is embedded in our governance models, financial support, and leadership.

I have spent decades working in and with the nonprofit sector — and I want to do everything that I can to understand and address how racial bias is embedded in every nook and cranny of it. It is my responsibility to help reshape our sector into one that champions leadership diversity. (Click here to learn more about my commitment for 2022.)

As ignited as I am about this mission, I am still not 100% confident on issues of diversity and inclusion.

That is one of the key reasons why we found it so important to invest in diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the Nonprofit Leadership Lab. We aspire to support our members on their journeys and through this work play a role in building and supporting more diversity in leadership.

It is also a reason why it is important for me to self-reflect on how my own white privilege, and its intersection with my sexual orientation, has impacted my position in the nonprofit sector. In this episode, I dig deep into this topic, out loud and in front of a microphone for the first time — and it gets very personal.

In This Episode:

  • Why does the nonprofit sector need more diversity in leadership? (0:48)
  • How has my intersectional identity as a white lesbian impacted my career in nonprofit work? (6:45)
  • What did the events of January 6, 2021, teach me about racial inequality in the US? (9:54)
  • What if you’re not confident addressing issues of diversity and inclusion? (11:24)
  • What is the “age of minorities” and how will it impact the nonprofit sector? (12:58)


Connect With Joan Garry

About Joan Garry:

Founder of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, where we help smaller nonprofits thrive. I’m also a strategic advisor for executive directors and boards of larger nonprofits. I’m a frequent keynote speaker, a blogger, and an author on all things leadership and management. (Learn more at JoanGarry.com)

I’m a woman with a mission to fuel the leadership of the nonprofit sector. My goal with each episode is to dig deep into an issue I know that nonprofit leaders are grappling with, by finding just the right person to offer you advice and insights.

Today is no exception.