Changing our approach to engage young people on our trustee board

29th October 2020 | Tom Beasley | Board of trustees

Reflections and opportunities this Trustees’ week; 2 – 6 November 2020.

We have just completed a successful trustee recruitment process during which we targeted younger people. Our board, led by our Chair, wanted us to have a greater diversity of thought, perspective and experience so that our decision making and understanding of our work would be better.

Trustee boards most commonly consist of white men, aged over sixty. As a result, less than 3% of board trustees are under thirty, only 8% are people from black and minority ethnic groups, whilst disabled people are also underrepresented.

Recruiting board members can be challenging, nationally three quarters of charities say they find it difficult to recruit trustees, perhaps it is why new trustees are often recruited from the people the board already know.

Changing our practise is as important as improved representation

Our board has committed to becoming increasingly diverse, including recruiting people of different ages. We were conscious that young people would help us in several ways.

Whilst the most obvious reason for recruiting young trustees might be that they will better represent the people we are here to support; this is only one of the reasons we are bringing about this change.

Young trustees often question practice and bring innovative ideas to the board’s operation, they bring a diversity of lived experience and skills and, providing we continue to evolve around them, they will be the charity leaders of the future.

Investing time and learning from others has paid off

Recruiting people who might not ordinarily associate themselves with a role of trustee, or who may be put off by some of the language that is used, takes a lot of effort and a change in approach.

We invested time in learning from other charities who had embarked on this journey; we re-wrote our adverts and recruitment packs, created honest friendly films about who we are and opened ourselves up to how we might work differently in the future.

The very welcome response to this from 18 to 25 year-olds in Gloucestershire resulted in ten applications and we had a difficult time choosing. In fact, we were looking to recruit the advised two, but our board decided to appoint three new board members.

Sharing our gain this Trustees’ Week

It is Trustees’ week and we are holding our first board meetings with our new trustees attending. If you are thinking about recruiting a trustee or trustees, we’d love to share our experience, recruitment material and learning so far.

If you would like a copy of our resources, recruitment material or information on our approach please get in touch.

Sources: Penny Wilson, Getting on Board and Young Trustees Movement.

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