June 2020 marked my 7th year of self-employment, which some believe is a lucky number. I had planned to celebrate with a light-hearted blog post of reflections about the luck I’ve had building my company, Good Insight. Instead, I marked this milestone amid health and economic crises, political turmoil, and an overdue public awakening to how Black and brown people experience both systemic and overt racism in our country. The scope of inequity and oppression demands focus on our collective future, rather than a reflection on the past.
Over the years, I have shared that luck was essential to Good Insight’s growth — business development, network connections, my husband’s stable job during some leaner years. As I began unpacking my personal commitment to racial equity, it became clear that my own privilege as a white person was really at the foundation of my success. During this journey of self-discovery, I decided to focus on nonprofit executive and board leadership as a way to support transformational change toward racial justice in the sector.
Rather than using this space to reflect on the past seven years, I’ve been thinking about the specific contributions I can make through Good Insight through our work as an executive search firm and governance consultancy. To that end, we have issued our Commitment to Anti-Racism. This is not just another diversity statement, rather, it outlines our actions to center racial equity so that we can help free nonprofit executives and boards of unconscious bias and outdated, racist practices.
Nonprofits have a complex relationship with white dominant culture. On one hand, many were established to serve Black and brown communities and on the other, most are led, governed, and funded by white people. Despite the sector’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, just a small percentage of the sector’s leadership roles are held by BIPOC professionals and an even smaller percentage hold board seats. This racial leadership gap exists because of residual effects of systemic racism, biased hiring processes, networks that lack strong cross-racial relationships, and in some cases, workplace oppression. The sector’s shaky foundation of unpaid internships, barely livable wages, and tokenism underscores the significant work ahead for all of us who care about the nonprofit sector.
Our firm, Good Insight, connects good causes to great people — we’re the folks to call for complicated leadership transitions and board challenges. As executive recruiters and governance experts, we guide the people within nonprofits who make decisions and have the power to drive substantial change. I commit to help these leaders, and white leaders in particular, re-envision what they can do to ensure the next generation of nonprofit executives more closely reflects the demographics and experiences of the people that nonprofits endeavor to serve.
Over the past few years, I have been processing my relationship to race as I work toward allyship. I reinvested company profits into education and training. I consulted with Black friends and colleagues about the harm of white saviorism, tokenism, model minority myths, and anti-Black hiring practices. I interrogated my family’s history with race, microaggressions in my history, and examined my own feelings of white guilt. While each person who takes the opportunity to learn and unlearn the facts of racism has different experiences, I have discovered access to power and resources that I will use to address injustice in the nonprofit sector.
As the CEO of Good Insight, I am committed to ensuring our work helps boards and executives address systemic inequities and dismantle racism to empower the communities they serve. Optimism is at the center of our work — literally good in sight — and I believe in our collective ability to attain a more equitable future for the nonprofit sector.