Research shows that BME and women trustees are significantly underrepresented in charity boardrooms. In response to this research and #CharitySoWhite, GCVS and CRER have launched an Equality Action Pledge to help third sector organisations take tangible steps towards tackling discrimination and under representation as part of Trustees’ Week 2019.
We want to see a better society free from discrimination and its effect on inequalities. The voluntary sector is a powerful force for good in building that society. Sadly, discrimination does not only take place “out there”. It also exists within our own organisations and is reflected in the make-up of Boards, senior management, staffing, volunteers and service users. It is the duty of everyone in the voluntary sector to ensure that we are doing the best we can for our communities. This must start with organisations recognising and working to dismantle barriers at all levels. Failing to reflect the communities we serve means we will miss out on talent and won’t achieve our full potential. Fatally – it will result in perpetuating the very inequalities we seek to solve.
7th November 2019
We write to you from the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) and Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector (GCVS).
As part of 2019’s Trustees’ Week (4-8 November), we are asking Glasgow’s voluntary organisations to sign up to an Equality Action Pledge committing to improve representation in the voluntary / third sector.
The general underrepresentation of many people with protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) in employment, participation, and volunteering is well-established in Scotland. The voluntary / third sector, unfortunately, is no exception. CRER’s 2019 research (Charity Trustee Ethnicity in Glasgow) showed that 80% of Glasgow’s top charitable companies had no BME trustees, and only 5.9% of trustees of those charities were from a BME background. Our research also found that women of all ethnicities are underrepresented on Glasgow’s charity boards, and BME women face even greater barriers to fair representation than white women. Similar trends of underrepresentation at board and senior leadership levels in England and Wales were found by the organisation Inclusive Boards in 2018, and by the Charity Commission in England in Wales in 2017. A lack of board diversity can significantly impact organisations in several ways, and can affect decision making and governance, funding opportunities, and public trust and engagement.
But a lack of diversity isn’t just a problem at board levels. We know that there is also widespread underrepresentation in senior levels of leadership, wider staff levels, volunteers, and service users. As illustrated by the recent conversations on Twitter about #CharitySoWhite, conversations about diversity in charities at all levels are being held across Scotland and the UK. Hundreds of people have spoken up to voice their experiences of racial discrimination, and we sadly expect that many other types of discrimination are also happening. Because of this CRER and GCVS have come together to develop the Equality Action Pledge.
Equality Action Pledge
We acknowledge that the lack of diversity in the voluntary sector is a serious issue that requires action. We commit to tackling discrimination and underrepresentation within our organisation by agreeing to the following:
- Our Board will take steps to measure the diversity of the Board, senior leadership, staff, volunteers and service users by all relevant protected characteristics.
- Our Board will identify what it can do to achieve fair representation from underrepresented groups at Board, senior leadership, staff, and volunteer levels. We will set targets and take action for improvement.
- Our organisation will tackle barriers which might prevent some groups of people from accessing our services.
By signing this pledge, your organisation will be taking a first tangible step towards solving this problem. We are delighted to launch the pledge during Trustees’ Week, and plan to publish the list of organisations who have signed on the website as well as share resources around ways to improve diversity at all levels throughout the next year. We hope to repeat this Pledge drive as part of 2020’s Trustees’ Week, with the goal of being able to share learning experiences and next steps.
We hope that you’ll join us in working towards making Scotland a better, fairer and more diverse place to live and work. If you’d like to sign up to our Equality Action Pledge then you can visit the website at www.thepledge.scot.
Jatin Haria Ian Bruce
Executive Director, CRER CEO Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector