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The First Step for Nonprofits to Bridge the Gender Pay Gap

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:41 PM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

 Carrie Heider Grant

 Program Coordinator

April 10th is Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year (on average) a woman has to work to be paid the same amount as a male counterpart in the prior year.

Imagine what you could do with 20% more income than you are currently paid. It’s not hard for me to answer: That money would go to student loans, health-care, long-term savings, and charitable contributions. And of course I'd seek out some lesser services like doggy day-carethe luxury of sparing my home the daily trauma of these two anxious doggos would be worth every penny. 


Good, anxious doggos.

My point is that 20% is a huge amount of money. 

And that gap is even wider when you break it down by race: Black women are paid 38% less than white men, while Latinas are paid 46% less. 


Those numbers are staggering.

Meanwhile, in the nonprofit sector, we’re working on making sure the elderly have safe housing, that children are fed, that rivers are clean, and so much more—how can we possibly take on another issue with no apparent solution? 

I’ve got good news and bad news.

Bad news: this is already a nonprofit issue. Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2017-2018 Compensation and Benefit Report illustrates the average salary for a full-time executive director of a Michigan nonprofit—

Men: $123,648

Women: $88,727

That’s a whopping 28% average decrease in pay for Michigan women!

Feeling a little less smitten with the mitten state? 

Here’s the good news: the nonprofit sector is a powerful force that drives the nation’s economy. In Michigan alone, nonprofits are responsible for employing 11% of the working population (Source: MNA). We have the potential to impact our communities in meaningful, lasting ways.

Think the gender pay gap doesn’t exist at your organization? Back that up with data by conducting an audit on your hiring and promotion practices. Compare compensation, qualifications/experience, and gender. That audit is the first step for anyone who genuinely seeks to achieve their nonprofit mission—we cannot address poverty and its effects if we are actively contributing to poverty by sustaining inequitable wage practices.

Let’s roll up our sleeves, and seek solutions with humility—we all have to do better if we want our communities to be better.

Here are some great resources if you’re looking for more information and data:

Equal Pay Counts: What Companies Can Do

How Managers Can Support Women at Work

The gender pay gap is a sleeper threat to nonprofit effectiveness and sustainability

Want to talk about where to start?

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