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Cause Strategy Partners’ Statement of Solidarity and Commitment: A Year Three Update

Accountability is critical. CEO and Founder Rob Acton reflects after three years of connecting leaders of color to positions of power through board service.
byRob ActononMay 22, 2023

On June 9, 2020 — in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis — I wrote that Cause Strategy Partners was “committed to doing everything we can to make the biggest impact possible” on the interpersonal and systemic racism that permeates our society.

We committed to an “action-oriented agenda” that recognized our most palpable asset to bring to the table was BoardLead, our nonprofit board matching, training, and support program. I wrote at the time:

“[We] will refine our approach to BoardLead candidate recruitment in order to double down on extending our work to people of color who stand ready to serve as nonprofit board members. We know firsthand that the biggest barrier to nonprofit board service is not lack of interest: there are so many who stand ready, willing, and able to serve. Rather, the primary barrier is simply lack of access driven by board development processes that too often lack any real sense of commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

This commitment was accompanied by accountability:

“[We] will measure our progress and report it publicly in an effort to hold ourselves accountable. Today, just 16% of nonprofit board members are people of color — an outrageously inappropriate lack of access to the leadership ranks of nonprofit organizations serving our communities across the country. While 40% of our BoardLeaders elected to nonprofit boards identify as people of color, we know that we can continue to do better. We will re-engineer our work in order to achieve a 45% POC election rate by this time next year and a 50% POC election rate in two years. What matters is measured. What is measured gets done. We are going to hold ourselves accountable to this advancement on behalf of the nonprofit sector and society at large.”

We also committed at that time to not let this priority drop by the wayside as news cycles shifted and systemic racism became a less prominent aspect of our national dialogue.

Today, as we approach the third anniversary of this commitment, I am so pleased to share that Cause Strategy Partners has made tangible, demonstrative progress on these commitments.

In our most recently completed round of BoardLead, 244 executives and employees from 17 of our corporate partners were elected to 231 nonprofit boards.

Fully 67% of our newly elected BoardLead nonprofit board members identify as professionals of color, up from 45% just three years ago.

That is tangible progress.

We have also launched our pilot Cause Strategy Partners Board Fellows Program that will bring together a cohort of two dozen BIPOC professionals who work outside of our corporate partnerships, giving us the opportunity to bridge the board access gap for exceptional BIPOC community leaders who stand ready to take on a leadership role with a cause at the center of their passion.

This work continues, of course — it is baked into our core values:

Advancement: Our commitment to diverse, inclusive, and equitable leadership shapes every aspect of our work.

Thank you for pausing with us today to mark this important development in our work at Cause Strategy Partners. Your interest and support in our efforts are a huge source of inspiration for all of us.

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