Governing for impact – applying the Charity Governance Code

The Charity Commission has published ground-breaking research into awareness and effectiveness of trusteeship in England and Wales. One of the key findings is that 71% of trustees are recruited through an informal process. The report recommends that charities do more to promote diversity on their boards and encourage applications from women, young people and people from ethnic minority and socially diverse backgrounds.


The Taken on Trust report (2017) emphasising the importance of recruiting and retaining a diverse board that leads effectively and achieves high performance.  To this end a brand new principle appears in the Charity Governance Code, Principle 6 recommending that ‘The board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision making.’  With Hallmarks of an effective charity being withdrawn by the Charity Commission, this is the standard against which charities will be assessed for diversity effectiveness.  To apply with this principle trustee boards with income of over £1m should ensure that there are plans in place to monitor and achieve the board’s diversity objectives.  As part of the annual report the board is expected to publish an annual description of what it has done to address the diversity of the board with an explanation of where the diversity objectives have not been made.

The concept of organisational diversity has become increasingly diversified to include personality type, thinking style and other factors that influence how people see the world. “Diversity for good” – a McKinsey study shows that an effective organisation, no matter what sector it is in needs to be composed of a group of people who think differently.  This has to be supported in an environment where it is safe to share and demonstrate these differences to enhance delivery of the vision.   In considering how delivery can be delivered, the authors of the McKinsey report (Vivian Hunt, Sara Prince, Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle and Lareina Yee) stress the importance of listening to understand problems, barriers and obstacles, before exploring and offering solutions.    This involves asking questions that invite engagement and avoiding statements that invite judgement. 

In building cultural competence that goes beyond diversity we have got to find creative ways to use the next- gen talent and creative ways to use the time and talent of young people.  Bottomline? This is approach is about inclusion not exclusion. That means everyone working for the best interest of the vision.  The potential benefit of strong performance makes any efforts of inclusion and engagement well worth it. 

To engage in this energising, relevant and timely development come to the first of our practical governance series at the offices of BWB on 20 March 2018.

Click here for more information about this seminar.

This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of March 6, 2018.