The Rollins Philanthropy & Leadership Center recently released the findings of its 2009 Nonprofit Compensation and Benefits Report. The report compiled data on more than 8,300 individual salaries and categorized into 121 job titles for 145 nonprofit organizations in Central Florida and found that male CEOs/executive directors of nonprofit organizations earn significantly higher pay than their female counterparts on average. According to the report, the average annual compensation for male CEOs/executive directors was $110,962 versus $80,987 per year for females. “While more of the surveyed CEOs/executive directors are women, there are more males in the CEO/executive director positions at the largest organizations,” said Margaret Linanne, executive director of the Philanthropy Center. Margaret added that these numbers lined up with recent nationwide data released by a similar study conducted by The Nonprofit Times.
I hung up the phone after speaking with Margaret and thought, “How grim.” I consider myself a glass-half-full, optimistic person most days, but I’ve been having trouble mustering the good cheer. This story makes me think of my own situation—in transition once again—personally and professionally. I am a seasoned career professional and a woman with many blessings. I have invented programs, raised millions, and changes lives, but my path has encountered many challenges lately. The social media start-up business I felt was my calling recently faced difficult choices—a layoff of the core team due to budget cuts. The pain of a vision, derailed.
Ordinarily, such circumstances would not thwart my resolve, but the uncertain economic environment is disturbing in new, pervasive ways. I can think of more than a dozen bright, intelligent, accomplished women in their forties and fifties who have been relieved of their significant responsibilities in the past six months—in for-profit and nonprofit environments. Margaret surmised that the male bias still lingers in private sector and nonprofit board rooms across the country that—”women don’t have to work,” because their husbands are the making big salaries or because they are raising the children. But I am here to tell you that the women are typically doing both jobs these days. Where do we find the energy?
And many reports say that males are feeling the brunt of the economic downturn. A July 16, 2009 Wall Street Journal article reports, “The 2.3 percentage-point gap between men’s June unemployment rate of 10.6% and women’s 8.3% rate is near the highest it’s ever been since records started being kept in 1948. The gap first hit two percentage points in March this year, and the 2.5 percentage-point gap in May was the highest ever. The overall unemployment rate rose to 9.5% in June, from 9.4% in May. The economy lost a higher-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June.”
As the single mother of two teenage boys, the reality of waning male productivity is as disconcerting as the abhorrent gender compensation gap. About two out of three men I encounter seem to be chronically unemployed, underemployed, or nursing a sense of entitled malaise. Not sure what in the heck is going on in our culture, but I suspect we are on the verge a course correction of unprecedented magnitude and disruption.
Seeking solace, I revisited one of my favorite books recently—In the Meantime, by Iyanla Vanzant. It is an intimate, touching book about transition of the heart—the process of moving from one period in your life to the next—managing monumental changes in love, life . . . everything.
Iyanla writes: “The presence of love is a healing power. The effects of this healing are what we are all born to discover and experience in every aspect of our lives. It is sometimes difficult to realize this, because in the meantime, we are not getting the love we want in the way we want it. The meantime is often a time of vagueness. You are experiencing a vague anxiety that you cannot quite pinpoint. It’s in your head. No, your chest. No, your heart. Sometimes that something is sadness. You are walking on a tightrope, about to fall. You are trying to hold on, to stay grounded, but slowly, bit by bit, you realize that you or your job or your relationship is falling apart. In the meantime, just when things look like they are falling apart, they are actually falling into place—the divine place for everyone involved. When you are in the meantime, you are in a time of healing preparation. You are being prepared for the grandest experience of your life—unconditional love and light. In the meantime, you must be willing to endure the process of felling vague confusion and helplessness. Remember, however, the meantime is not permanent. It is a healing process.”
I find Iyanla’s words comforting right now—at a time we all need to examine the truth in our hearts as we reinvent our expectations and our lives. We all need to find a way to hold on—in the meantime.
Anne Lamott, another one of my favorite writers, says, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”
What are your thoughts about keeping your balance?