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Questions to guide a board discussion on diversity

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This page will help you start the conversation about diversity, and begin your journey to a more well-rounded and effective board.

Increasingly boards are concerned with ensuring a diversity of skills but also lived experience and background. Conducting a diversity audit in conjunction with a skills and experience audit (link), allows a board to consider where there may be gaps in all these areas. This practice is recommended in the Charity Governance Code under principle 6 as a way of helping you plan for a diverse board.

This audit and exercise are not about ticking boxes or about ensuring that you have trustees who satisfy each of the diversity areas. It’s simply about engaging with the findings and asking:

  • Where are we missing key perspectives and insight which would add value to our decisions?
  • Where are there obvious gaps in our diversity which need to be addressed through recruitment?

Being aware of gaps in skills, experience and background can help trustees to consider when they need assistance on key decisions and plans with wider groups who may be able to offer more insight. This also allows the board to take a systematic, targeted approach to recruitment of new trustees where they feel these gaps are significant. It’s all about ensuring the effectiveness of the board’s decision making.

Overall diversity context of the charity

  • How diverse are we as a board? Do we want to conduct an audit?
  • How does our diversity compare with the community we serve and how significant is this?
  • What goals should we establish on diversity and skills and over what time period? Taking into consideration the rotation and retirement of the existing board.

Creating an accessible and engaging boardroom (relating to 6.3.2 Charity Governance Code)

  • Do we want to hold reserve positions on the board for people from particular backgrounds?
  • Based on who we want to recruit, are our current meetings and papers appropriate, how do we know?
  • Do we need to tailor the induction process to provide better support for particular types of trustees?
  • Is fact-finding or research with particular demographics required to provide the answers to these questions?

Recruiting diverse trustees (relating to 6.4.3 Charity Governance Code)

  • Should we tailor recruitment materials to attract new trustees?
  • Can specialist board recruiters support us in this work? (eg organisations such as Trustees Unlimited who work with corporate organisations, or Inclusive Boards who specialise in diverse backgrounds).

Monitoring (relating to 6.5 Charity Governance Code)

  • How do we intend to monitor our diversity and progress on a periodic basis?
  • How do we want to report on this to stakeholders?  
Page last edited Feb 25, 2019

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