Top tips for improving the diversity of your trustee board.

Article | Jayne Rowe | 30th September 2020

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Penny Wilson, CEO, Getting on Board

Did you know more than 60,000 trustees are called John or David? That only 36% of trustees are women, and just 3% of charity trustees are women of colour? 51% of trustees are retired. Most charity boards simply don’t reflect the world we live in. Indeed, 59% of charities say their boards aren’t reflective of the communities they seek to serve.

At Getting on Board, we’re on a mission to change the face of trusteeship. Here we give some top tips on how to diversify your charity’s board.

If your board is already diverse, great! You’re in a minority. Shout about your successes and encourage others to take the same path.

If your board isn’t diverse, and you want to do something about it, read on for some practical tips.

Top tips: how to improve your charity’s board diversity

1. Recruit for the right reasons

Because you want genuinely to get different perspectives and experiences on your board, not because you want to look diverse.

2. Don’t recruit for diversity alone

You want diverse trustees with the skills/knowledge/experience/networks that will help your organisation thrive. No one wants to be recruited because, for example, they happen to be a young woman. They want to be recruited because they want to be useful to a cause they care about.

3. Remove all unnecessary barriers.

Do you really need trustees to have a degree, already have a detailed understanding of charity governance (you can teach that), offer several days a month, attend meetings in the middle of the working day?

4. Get your ad right

Inspire people to want to support your charity by becoming a trustee.

5. Do the leg work to advertise where your potential trustees will see it

It’s your job to go out and find them, don’t expect them to find you.

6. Don’t recruit for fit

“Fit” is the enemy of good governance. You should be actively seeking new perspectives and looking for trustees that bring something different, not offer more of the same. This doesn’t mean you should compromise on passion for your cause. They are two different things

7. Induct, induct and induct some more

Help your new trustees to contribute as much as they can, as quickly as they can, by helping them get to grips with their role and your organisation.

8. Just do it! Stop talking, take action

Join Getting on Board’s Transform programme.

In Autumn 2020, PEM supported a bursary for a person of colour to participate in Getting on Board’s flagship programme for aspiring trustees, The Charity Board Leadership Programme.

(Stats from Taken on Trust, Charity Commission for England and Wales, 2017)

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