PhilTV: Women, Own and Embrace Your Power

Monday, April 11, 2016
PhilTV: Women, Own and Embrace Your Power
By Jade Doherty, Learning Services Associate at Philanthropy New York
New York City— A great many foundations are led by well-meaning white men, and in those foundations there are women and minorities among the staff who wonder how they can effectively move their organizations to more deeply question their daily operations through the lens of race and gender. But they want to make their case in a way that doesn’t make them seem like an individual “shrill” woman or the lone “angry black guy.” Many of us are wary of being “the one” who is always bringing it up and forcing the issue. Some even say “I don’t want to be ‘that woman director,’ I just want to be the director who happens to be a woman.”   
This was one of the many surmountable issues addressed at Philanthropy New York’s recent program, National Leadership as Diverse as the U.S. - Philanthropy Can Make it Happen. Panelist Carla Harris, Vice Chairman and Global Wealth Management and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley asserted that female foundation leaders really have no choice but to acknowledge their gender, and embrace that it alone can make them a powerful voice. They can, in fact, bring others to the table. 
IN THE CLIP BELOW, just prior, Moderator Cecilia Clark, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Community Foundation had expressed that foundations need to shift focus from the notion that one woman or one minority in a position of power is sufficient to attain gender and racial equity. She then asked Harris to elaborate on the “significance of collective voice.” Harris’s take is a rallying call: 
In an earlier comment Harris stressed the clout foundations hold and their ability to change the world view of leadership, but she strongly stressed that this effort must be unrelenting with very deliberate intention. She stated, “It does not just happen… You have to be intentional about sustaining the effort because if you do it once, and then you’re not conscious and intentional about doing it the next time you need a leader, then you lose all the momentum you’ve created.” When prompted, Harris encouraged women to embrace their gender and be proud that that has made them a coveted leader. She dictated how when a woman is in a decision making role at an organization it is critical that she bring more diversity to the table through recommendation, so that collectively they can champion the causes that may have previously been overlooked.
Harris continued to describe the ways in which philanthropy can strengthen the need for leadership equity by funding the foundations that collect, analyze and publish data that provides testimony for its benefits. She spoke directly to funders, stating that they must make sure the organizations that they support are making efforts towards creating diversity: “Give them the money to capacity build… to train the board, and also to train the leadership that they have, to train the board to think differently, to look for candidates differently.” With this strategy funders can help create leaders that can move to different organizations and consequentially create a multiplier effect.
The program as a whole included the significance of leadership equity and its leveraging power on the programmatic success foundations support, why this equity is more than simply statistics, and what other alteration is needed to sustain it and how foundations can incorporate equity into their grantmaking. The panel discussion included the following speakers:
The video below is from the full session. It runs 1 hour 52 minutes.

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