These difficult times mean charities are having to navigate uncertainty, making tough decisions as well as future proofing their organisation. Diversity of perspectives in the boardroom is an essential part of this. By avoiding groupthink, it better ensures all decisions reflect the interests of the diverse community they serve.
Reacting to their environment is fundamental for all organisations. Key to this is navigating a new economic landscape post-COVID, with an all too high unemployment rate. A rate, as shown recently by the Princes Trust that is set to cost the UK’s GDP £6.9 Billion in 2022 This will hit young people hardest, impacting not only their formative years of employment. But also, leaving them to cope with the aftermath of this crisis longest.
Whether to improve as an employer of young charity staff, or create a better service for those they help, getting the right mix of voices is essential. It allows you to negotiate issues like youth unemployment. As someone made redundant during the pandemic, I know how scary, worrying and overwhelming it can be so early in your career. But without asking young people, how would you improve and create better services?
So, when advocating for young people to have a seat at the table, few seats are as important as those of young trustees. A meaningful, long-term, and equal playing field where young people can contribute without the danger of not getting invited back.
That’s why as a Young Trustee, I am part of the Young Trustees Movement. We aim to create better, more inclusive governance through doubling the number of young trustees and supporting them to thrive. While the focus is on age, the movement is part of a wider call for diversity and best practice on charity boards. It is not driven by a single organisation but a movement of people with bigger aims than anyone could achieve alone.
The bad news is that if Scotland's stats are anything like England and Wales; where 1/12 trustees are called John or David and less than 3% of trustees are under 30 we have a lot of work to do!
The good news is that there are already brilliant charities, organisations and people leading this change in Scotland. One such example is the “Charity Board Initiative” which follows the Get on Board competency pathway and places and supports students on the boards of local charities, voluntary organisations and public bodies. They network with professionals and help make decisions which impact their community. “Our Charity Board Initiative aims to engage a younger generation in charity work to enrich the impact they have on our communities; whilst learning valuable skills they can use in future employment. It’s particularly pleasing to see that we have matched 32 students with local charities; and two have already joined charity boards – demonstrating a real success story.” Elaine Crichton Founder member of the CBI Steering Group
The movement is growing, and we’re excited to be joined by others. That’s why I’ll be speaking at SCVO’s free Good Governance webinar: ‘Board Diversity and Young Trustees’ on Wednesday, 2 June. Sign up today to explore how your organisation can recruit and support young trustees.