New ACEVO report highlights board diversity is too critical for charities to ignore says Sophie Livingstone, Managing Director, Trustees Unlimited

The annual Pay and Equality Survey of Charity Chief Executives published by ACEVO and sponsored by Russam GMS highlights that board diversity and, especially ethnic diversity, is one of the main concerns for Charity CEOs.

Just 26% of chief executives are satisfied with the ethnic diversity of their board, while 76% are satisfied with the gender diversity.

Sophie Livingstone, Managing Director, Trustees Unlimited says, “We are pleased to see progress is being made in charity leadership, particularly in terms of the gender balance, but diversity covers so much more.

“One striking point was that less than a third of CEOs (32%) have made any plans to address ethnic diversity issues and just 34% have put in place strategies to recruit more candidates with disabilities – and this needs to change.”

“It seems CEOs feel unable to address this challenge, even though there are so many resources out there to help them, as well as opportunities to advertise board vacancies.”

Sophie says a great starting point for any charities looking to rebalance board diversity is the report published last year by ACEVO and Institute of Fundraising (IoF) on racial diversity, which asked civil society leaders to commit to eight principles to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership. But recruitment also plays a major role.

Sophie says, “The responsibility for the board composition lies with the board and it’s not clear from this report the extent to which Chairs and boards are working towards ensuring a fully inclusive and diverse recruitment process or blocking open recruitment.”

She concludes, “We set up Trustees Unlimited ten years ago to help charities recruit trustees from more diverse backgrounds and this year, our renewed focus is on diversity and addressing these very challenges. Boards must reflect the communities they serve and unless we open up trustee positions to people from all backgrounds and walks of life, then Civil Society will not reach its potential.”