Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

We recognize that philanthropy has long been hampered by the sector’s failure to hire people who reflect the communities that its institutions serve. At the San Francisco Foundation, equity, inclusion, and diversity are core to the success of our internal operations, and to our external impact in the community. We’re making efforts to establish a culture where staff can bring their full selves to work. We’re recruiting a diverse team with lived experiences that deepen our understanding of the Bay Area’s greatest challenges. And we’re applying a stronger equity lens to our grantmaking practices. In these ways, we’re bringing our best ideas forward in order to have the greatest impact possible.

We invite you to review our 2019 diversity data (see below), which offers a snapshot of where we are with regard to staff, grantmaking, our board, and the investment managers with whom we work.

But we are by no means done with this work. This is a journey, and we still have a long way to go. We welcome your feedback to help us along the way. Send your questions or comments to marketingandcommunications[at]sff.org.


Internal Equity

We aim to establish a culture and workplace that is fair, inclusive and just. A culture where staff are recognized for their full selves and their voices are valued within an organization that is accountable to providing equitable access to resources and opportunities. We’re making the following efforts to advance equity within our organization:


Since deepening our commitment to equity in 2016, we’ve been able to attract an increasingly diverse team that better reflects the communities that we serve. In 2016, 56 percent of staff identified as a person of color. In 2019, 70 percent of staff identified as a person of color.In July of 2019, foundation staff participated in a voluntary survey to help us gain a broader understanding of staff diversity. At that time, we employed 77 full-time staff members. 74 full-time staff members (96 percent) took part in the survey. The following charts convey the point-in-time data that we captured.

Race/ethnicity: 70 percent of San Francisco Foundation staff identified as a person of color. By comparison, 24 percent of staff at foundations across the country identified as a racial/ethnic minority, according to the Council on Foundations’ 2016 study, The State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector.

Nationally, 12 percent of foundation executives are minorities, according to the Council on Foundations’ study. At the San Francisco Foundation, 57 percent of executives are people of color.

Gender: 75 percent of San Francisco Foundation staff identified as female; 25 percent identified as male. This is similar to the gender makeup across the sector, according to the Council on Foundations’ study, which reported 77 percent women.

Age: 23 percent of San Francisco Foundation staff identified as falling in the 18 to 29 age group, 23 percent in the 30 to 39 age group, 21 percent in the 40 to 49 age group, 21 percent in the 50 to 59 age group, and 15 percent in the 60 and older age group. The Council on Foundations’ report did not include data for comparable age breakdowns.

More specifically, 17 percent of staff under 40, and 35 percent of staff over 40 report that they are white. This is in contrast to the broader field. According to the Council on Foundations’ report, 68 percent of staff under 40 and 78 percent of staff over 40 are white.
Ability: 93 percent of San Francisco Foundation staff identified as a person without a disability, 7 percent as a person with a disability. The Council on Foundations’ report indicated that only 20 percent of foundations responded to questions about staff with disabilities and among those only 1 percent of foundations indicated that they had staff with disabilities.


In 2016, we deepened our long-held commitment to social justice by focusing our entire program strategy on racial equity and economic inclusion. Two years later, we released a report that details the process by which we shifted our focus (read Advancing Equity: Re-imagining the Ways a Community Foundation Delivers on its Mission). We’ve made a conscious effort to fund grantees that are led by diverse leadership. And with each open application cycle, we’re continuing to refine the ways in which we measure and fund equity in our grantmaking.

70 percent of the organizations that we funded in our 2018 equity grants open cycle featured a majority people-of-color leadership team. Among the organizations that we funded in our 2018 equity grants open cycle, 34 were led by a black executive director, 16 were led by an Asian American executive director, and 15 were led by a Latinx executive director. We are evaluating additional measures of equity, inclusion, and diversity in our grantmaking, and look forward to sharing updates with you in the near future.

Board of Trustees

We are fortunate to have an extraordinary board of trustees with leaders from all parts of our community. They provide the kind of guidance, leadership, and oversight that make us more effective and better able to reach our goals. People of color make up 70 percent of our board. Nationwide, people of color make up 15 percent of board positions, according to BoardSource’s 2018 report, Foundation Board Leadership.

Investment Managers

Diligent stewardship of the $1.5 billion in assets entrusted to us through endowed and donor advised funds enables us to make a greater impact in the region. In order to invest our assets in alignment with our values, we seek out investment firms owned by women and people of color—two groups that have historically faced barriers to accessing capital.

In 2019, 24 percent of SFF’s investment management firms were majority owned by women, and 11 percent were majority owned by people of color. Industry-wide, just 1.3% of assets under management globally are overseen by firms that are majority owned by women or people of color, according to the Knight Foundation’s 2019 report, Diversifying Investments: A Study of Ownership Diversity and Performance in the Asset Management Industry

The asset manager industry’s near-total lack of diversity aggravates wealth disparities that disproportionately prevent people of color from thriving. Not only do diverse-owned firms perform as well as their non-diverse counterparts, they are also more likely to invest in entrepreneurs of color.

Along with others, we have challenged our investment consultant, Colonial Consulting, to support our efforts to address inequities in the asset management sector. Between 2013-2018, Colonial increased its allocation of assets to diverse managers by sixfold. Today, the firm continues its efforts to hire increasingly diverse managers. 

We are proud of the progress we’ve made to date and will continue to intentionally allocate capital to diverse managers across all asset classes. We welcome the opportunity to share the lessons we’ve learned, and to continually improve this critical aspect of our work.