Maintaining Equality Within the Nonprofit FieldAug 03
Nonprofits make up around 10% of the United States economy. As such, they can’t exactly set national trends for things like employee pay or diversity, but that doesn’t mean they should dismiss their obligations to equality. It is the responsibility of nonprofits to ensure that they do not foster the same kinds of inequalities that the for-profit economy thrusts upon workers and consumers.
There are, of course, a number of ways to go about this, and there are some excellent writings on the issue. A good place to start is with pay. Despite the received wisdom of the for-profit market, which says that employee wages should go down while executive wages go up, the opposite is true and should be a goal of all non-profits. Employees need to make a living wage, which allows them to afford food, shelter, and other such needs, while also leaving them with enough left over to live comfortably. We often talk about living wages, but those need to allow people to act as consumers. Being able to buy luxuries should not be the purview of only the rich.
Part of the reason wages are suppressed in the for-profit economy is to expand executive salaries, under the idea that, since they’re in charge, they deserve all the credit and money. But a non-profit is just that, and even if the organization isn’t turning a profit, that doesn’t mean the leaders of that organization should be getting rich off it. Executives should live comfortably as well, but there is a rather wide gulf between “comfortable” and being a part of the oppressing class.
These are only some of the ways in which non-profits need to put their money where their mouth is on the question of equality. Maintaining diverse staffs and boards is also important, as is employing people from the communities an organization purports to support.