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Why trustee diversity is important

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It’s important for boards to understand why they should actively consider and create the right cultural environment for individuals from marginalised and minoritised backgrounds to become trustees.

Often boards strive to be more inclusive and representative in their decisions, and because of this, there is the incorrect assumption that diversifying your board won’t achieve much change.

However, there are many valuable reasons why you should increase diversity on your board:

  • Many charities risk a disconnect between board members and service users. It's important your board reflects the communities you work with. By having trustees with relevant lived experiences, your decision making will be more informed and supportive of service users. For some charities, this may involve looking at your board's gender split, age groups and ethnicity. For other organisations, it might mean making sure they have LGBTQ+ representation on the board, for example.
  • A more diverse range of trustees helps to make sure a charity is fair and open in all its dealings, for example in giving grants or delivering services.
  • Having a range of perspectives and lived experiences on the board, helps the board to remain innovative, relatable and agile to adapt to changing environments.
  • A diverse board contains a broader mix of skills, knowledge and experience which should give it greater flexibility to overcome challenges.

To prevent the revolving door effect of skilled individuals leaving the organisation due to a culture that isn’t centred on inclusion and equality, organisations need to work on reflecting, learning and improving on their practices..

All charities have a public sector legal duty to promote equality, as per the Equality Act 2010, if they’re delivering public services on behalf of the government.

NCVO worked with Impact Culture to create this guidance.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 29 April 2022

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