Urgent action needed to improve diversity in top charity boards

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Urgent action is needed to improve diversity in top charity boards, according to a new report.

The report found that over half of the UK’s top 500 charities have no Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) board members.

Of the 5,988 trustees identified, just 6.3 per cent were from BAME backgrounds. This is compared to 8 per cent of FTSE 100 company directors and 3.5 per cent of senior leaders in 500 public sector organisations. According to the last census, 14 per cent of the UK population identify themselves as having a non-white background.

The research also found that three of the top ten largest charities had no identifiable BAME trustees, including Cancer Research UK, The Lloyd’s Register Foundation and Nuffield Health. Together, the top ten charities have a combined reported annual income of £6.488 billion.

However, of the 121 trustees listed in the top ten charities, 16 were identified as BAME, equivalent to 13 per cent BAME representation. This is compared to 6.3 per cent in the wider top 500 charities and 8 per cent in the FTSE 100. Half of the BAME trustees in the top ten charities were female.

Richard Fuller MP said, “The BEIS Select Committee is currently looking at diversity in governance structures and quite frankly I am shocked at this news.”

“Charities have a vital role to play in helping the most vulnerable.”

“On a commercial level, charities could give experience to experts who will eventually join FTSE boards, whilst also allowing themselves to benefit from vitally needed know-how.”

“Urgent action is needed to deal with the underrepresentation of BAME leaders on charity boards and I hope we can see good progress soon.”

The research was commissioned by Inclusive Boards, which works to support the third and public sector to attract more BAME leaders at board and executive level.

The organisation is calling for charities to develop diversity benchmarks to compare diversity performance with the private and public sector. It also recommends that the government review policy and legislation with a view to addressing the lack of diversity within charity governance, putting this on par with public sector requirements.

Samuel Kasumu of Inclusive Boards said, “We need to take these findings very seriously.”

“The issue is not a lack of talent and is more likely to be a lack of access to opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds.”

“It would seem that the same old boys network that exists within the private and public sector is very much alive within the third sector too.”

“Charities must endeavour to be standard barriers going forward, and I would call on all charities to review how they attract senior leaders to their boards.”

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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