Charity trustee boards: men outnumber women by two to one as new report recommends improved diversity promotion
New research involving around 3,500 charity trustees has shown that boards do not sufficiently reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
The report ‘Taken on Trust’, commissioned by the Office for Civil Society and the Charity Commission, details research conducted in January 2017.
Delivered by Cass Business School and the Cranfield Trust, the report shows that men outnumber women on trustee boards at a rate of two to one, with 71% of charity chairs being male. Additionally, an overwhelming 92% of trustees are white, and above recognised averages in terms of age, income and educational background. 30% possess a post-graduate qualification, while over half are in retirement.
With 71% of trustees recruited to their roles through an informal process, the report recommends that charities do more to promote diversity on their boards, encouraging formal applications from women, ethnic minorities, younger applicants and people from socially diverse backgrounds.
Also highlighted by the research were concerns expressed by many trustees regarding a self-described lack of skill in marketing, digital fundraising and campaigning at board level. Some trustees reported that they did not feel confident about their ability to deal with potential cyber-attacks or fraud.
The majority of trustees were shown to work in roles that combine governance with executive responsibility, with 80% describing their peer group as the most important internal source of support and only 6% seeking external advice or guidance.
A second report, produced by the Cranfield Trust and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, shows that trustees often find it difficult to identify appropriate support. Recommendations include a review of formal guidance for trustees, drawing upon developments in digital technology.
More positively, the research also discovered that charity trustees, most of whom are volunteers, feel positive about the trustee role, describing the personal reward and satisfaction it brings. With an average of five hours per week devoted to their charities, trustees’ contributions were valued at a monetary equivalent of around £3.5 billion per year.
Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, praised the “extensive and rigorous” research, and hoped that its findings would “act as a catalyst for action by charities to promote diverse trusteeship, and to better support existing trustees in their work.”
Source: Charity Commission