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Trustees' Week Blog #2 - How can your Board be more diverse?

Welcome to Trustees' Week, now in its 12th year! There are over 250,000 trustees in Scotland who guide the work of our vibrant voluntary sector.

Throughout this week, we're featuring daily blogs by Abi Clarke, our Development Officer, who has based her blog topics from conversations with various organisations across Moray over the last 6 months.

Read Abi's second blog below.


"Pretty much the same."

That’s certainly not a phrase you want to use when describing your board – sameness can bring real stagnation to an organisation and ‘diversity’ isn’t just a word – it’s what we need to be achieving, doing, making happen.

So, let’s ensure you are ready to action this within your organisation, starting with your board.

EDI is short for equality, diversity and inclusion and this is a core responsibility for any board, as it is good governance and an essential part of the Charity Governance Code.

What is equality, diversity, and inclusion? Let’s break it down.

Equality is ensuring that every individual has equal opportunities so that no one is treated less favourably because of who they are or what makes them different.

Diversity recognises that there are differences within an organisation’s make-up, whether it be identity, background and/or experience and in which all people have equitable access to resources and decision-making.

Finally, inclusion refers to how proactive as an organisation you are to ensure people of different backgrounds and experiences feel welcomed, respected and can participate fully.

Overall, charity boards are still less diverse than the general population. According to the Taken on Trust research by the Charity Commission:

  • only 8% of trustees are Black, Asian or from ethnic minorities compared with 14% of the UK.

  • population (source: 2011 census).

  • seven out of ten trustees are men.

  • the median age for a trustee is 61 years.

A diverse range of trustees helps to ensure your charity is fair and open with anything you deal with. It starts with having good connections between your board, as well as with your service users or clients, so that you can understand more about them in terms of gender, age and ethnicity, etc.,

If you have a broad mix of knowledge, skills and experience on the board, you are better prepared to overcome challenges you may face as a charity.

More diversity = more skills = more capacity.

More diversity, equality, inclusion = a reduction in barriers to resources and services.

More EDI = more trust and collaboration.

Here are some top tips which you could consider within your organisation:

- Print, share and read the ‘Equality Act 2010’ within your team. Ensure that you all have a good understanding of this legislation and how you will incorporate it within your charity and practice, including how it may also apply to volunteering.

- Produce an advert for recruiting a trustee/s. This can help you find candidates with wide skill sets rather than just people you know in your network. New trustees don’t need a track record of being a trustee before. On the contrary – training (provided by tsiMORAY for example, or places such as SCVO) can provide new people with helpful information about their new role and show them how their newness is a strength!

- Tell people. Be proactive. Include statements such as, “we would particularly welcome applications from ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, young people, LGBTQ +, as we are committed to a diverse board that reflects our community” (The Getting on Board website outlines some brilliant positive effects on board diversity.)

- Communicate your role description clearly. Does a trustee really need to have a degree? and attend several meetings per week at specific times/locations? Aim to be flexible and investigate how you can offer training to build on their own personal development. Explain the benefits and what they will achieve from being a trustee. People want to be inspired and know they will be welcomed when they read your role description.

- Difference of opinion within board discussion and even debate is good, as long as it is based in trust and respect. As a result of this, better decisions can be made and contrasting views will be welcomed, which, in the end, encourages trustees to feel confident to share their ideas.

There is much more that is involved with ensuring your board is diverse including learning, commitment and accountability; however I hope this gives you a good start.

For more information on this topic or to arrange an informal chat, please email me, Abi Clarke, Development Officer, at

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