Could you be our EDI committee chair?

NCVO chair of trustees, Priya Singh, reflects on NCVO’s progress with equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and looks forward to the recruitment of an independent chair of NCVO’s EDI subcommittee in the New Year. 

I firmly believe that if charities want to become more equitable, inclusive, and diverse organisations, this has to start at board level. The refresh to the Charity Governance Code published earlier this month includes an updated Equity Diversity and Inclusion principle. This excellent resource is designed to support trustees to create inclusive cultures both inside the board and throughout the organisation. 

The principle recommends four stages of practice for charities in their EDI journey: 

  1. Define how equality, diversity and inclusion are important for the charity and assess the current level of understanding. 
  2. Set out plans and targets tailored for the charity – based on its context and starting point. 
  3. Monitor and measure how well the charity is doing. 
  4. Be transparent and publish the charity’s progress. 

The work of our EDI committee

NCVO is still very much in the early stages of this EDI journey. One of the main ways in which our trustees have been driving this agenda has been through the creation of a new committee in August to hold the organisation to account on equity, diversity and inclusion. Since then, our new committee has met regularly to oversee an action plan resulting from our in-depth review of EDI at NCVO.

Advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in a restructure process

This work has taken place at a time of immense change at NCVO. With a £1.4m funding gap because of covid-19, along with a new strategy based on the views of a large listening exercise with members, NCVO has undertaken a wide-ranging restructure over the past few months. The EDI committee has had a critical role in ensuring diversity and inclusion are central to the restructure.

We provided support and challenge to the leadership team as they led equality impact assessments [1] on the process and outcomes of the restructure. The equality impact assessments highlighted several actions the organisation needed to take to ensure we ran a restructure process that eliminated unfair discrimination and advanced equality.

A key action was developing a more inclusive approach to recruitment, including internal recruitment. We are also supporting the leadership team to take the first steps in evolving the organisation to deliver our new strategy. A strategy which has culture change at its heart.

Diversity at board level

The Charity Governance Code EDI principle also focuses on diversity at board level. This is an issue that NCVO’s latest research, Time Well Spend Diversity in Volunteering, published yesterday, has further shone a light on.

The research included consideration of the different roles volunteers play within organisations. In terms of those who volunteer as the leader of an organisation, as a trustee or committee member, there is a stark difference between different socio-economic groups in terms of representation [2]. There is also lower representation of people under the age of 50, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and women.

The report includes some really practical steps organisations can take to address issues of diversity at board level including changing recruitment methods and processes, while also stressing the importance of culture change.

Image showing 20% of recent volunteers lead an organisation, are trustees or members of a committee.
Figure 1 [3]

Could you be our EDI committee chair?

I was proud to chair my first board meeting this week, which included several newly elected trustees. It was fantastic to hear from such a diverse range of voices, all bringing different talents and experiences to bear on our discussion. But we have more work to do.

In establishing our EDI subcommittee, we aspired to bringing in an independent chair to help us to expand our understanding, expertise and impact, for the benefit of all of us on this journey towards true equity. I am excited to confirm that in January we will advertise for that independent chair for our EDI subcommittee.

In some ways today is the start of that recruitment process. I am determined that we will find someone with a passion for giving a voice to those who’ve not been heard, someone who will encourage debate and help us make better decisions. Please share this blog far and wide in your networks, especially networks which include diverse communities, and watch this space in the New Year for details of how to apply.

[1] An equality impact assessment is a systematic and evidence-based tool, which enables us to consider the likely impact of work on different groups of people.

[2] Volunteers in managerial and higher managerial groups (ABC1) having much higher representation as leaders of an organisation than volunteers from manual or casual worker groups (C2DE).

[3] *Caution should be taken due to low base sizes.

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Priya Singh Dr Priya Singh is chair of NCVO's trustee board.

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