An article in the October3, 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that women are rare in the ranks of top-earning nonprofit CEO’s. Why is that? Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In would no doubt say that women aren’t demanding more; they aren’t speaking up.
I think it’s also because women who are in the non-profit sector are there because they care deeply about the cause, be it an international organization such as United Way, a small community organization, or a university. In the same article, Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way says, “Research shows women are more inclined to advocate for their beliefs…to make a difference.” I believe it is difficult in most cases to feel that way about a corporate career. The for-profit sector is quite different. The product may not be a person’s passion, but it is their paycheck.
My granddaughter got a very high paying corporate job right out of college. She likes the job OK, she says but is looking forward to the day when she can work in the non-profit rather than for-profit sector and for something she really cares about. Of course at a much lower salary.
When writing our last book, Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World, I interviewed a top executive with a major corporation. She was all for the idea of making lots of money in the corporate sector so she could give it away. Not such a bad idea.
I’m not saying that it’s right women aren’t making top dollars as CEO’s of nonprofits compared to men. But I do think our gender and our values play a part in the equation. Ultimately, the solution is for society to recognize the worth of those values.