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Recently Oxford HR sponsored and attended an Alliance Magazine breakfast seminar on ‘Feminist Philanthropy’. Not only was this event incredibly interesting and informative, but it was also thought provoking. It got me thinking about how the charity sector supports a diverse range of communities, people and causes, and yet this diversity is not reflected in the sector’s trustees. There is a lot of high-level debate about the need to improve diversity and inclusion in the sector’s workforce. Sector leaders have made the moral, business and impact cases for why charities need to step up and improve who they involve, and how they involve them, at all levels of an organisation.

Likely you have read the McKinsey report into diversity at senior levels in organisations. We know the stats –

companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to have superior value creation.

We understand the correlation between diversity (defined as a greater proportion of women and ethnically/culturally diverse individuals) in the leadership of large companies and financial performance.

The Pay and Equalities Survey 2019, published by the charity leaders body ACEVO showed that: The number of female CEOs has increased from 57% in 2017 to 63% in 2018. This is at odds with many surveys looking at the largest charities by income but suggests that there are a large number of women leading small and medium-sized charities. Improvement then, but not intersectional improvement, only amongst white, non-disabled women.

However, the percentage of BAME CEOs is only 6%. The number of disabled CEOs was also under-representative of the UK. Research by Inclusive Boards in November 2018 found that 6.6% of trustees at the top 500 charities (by income) in the UK are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Even in the diversity-leading, private sector, UK firms have fallen short of the Govt’s set targets for gender diversity (33% by 2020) at only 27% representation in Boardrooms this year.

There is talk of quotas, which always causes great controversy and discussions around the introduction of remuneration for Trustees or even just offering paid expenses such as childcare – helping those with caring responsibilities to manage their commitments. Organisations such as the 30% club are making great strides forward. The recommendations of the Govt’s Parker Review (updated in 2017) state that succession planning is vital.

Companies need to encourage and support candidates drawn from diverse backgrounds, including people of colour, to take on Board roles internally (e.g., subsidiaries) where appropriate, as well as Board and Trustee roles with external organisations (e.g. educational trusts, charities and other not-for-profit roles). We are already working towards this aim with our sister company Career Volunteer.

Further to this is the work being done by the Blagrave Trust. They are leading the way in championing young Trustees. Working with the Social Change Agency, they have set up the Young Trustees Movement. This is designed to encourage charities to bring in young people to join Boards. They want to double the number of young Trustees aged under 30 by 2024. They challenge the image of what a Trustee looks like, shining a light on the impact of diversity of age on Boards.

At Oxford HR we are planning a pilot programme in the first half of 2020 which will support and enable three charities to bring a young Trustee onto their Boards. We will support and provide guidance, to enable charities to introduce, induct and develop young Trustees onto their Boards. Following the pilot, we will create the Trustees Hub, a platform for Trustees (>30 years old and <30 years old) to come together, share expertise and experience. It will be a route to a Trustee role but also a network for charities to advertise roles to potential Trustees of all ages. If you or someone you know might be interested in following this pilot programme, participating as a Trustee of any age, or interested in exploring Trustee opportunities please contact Sarah Engerer at