Ethnic minority representation as trustees on UK Charity Boards

We interview Darren Franklin about his ongoing research, and Ian Joseph explains Trustees Unlimited’s decision to support it.

“This has always been a topic of debate and discussion. It is of particular interest to me as I have been on boards for over 20 years from Vice-Chair of Governors in a school, to Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee for national charities and I have always been either the only ethnic minority on the board or one of two. As a Black professional, I find this quite curious and want to understand further the motivations and potential barriers to ethnic minorities taking up trustee board positions. There are 183,771 charities in England and Wales with 921,739 trustees (Charity Commission June 2023).

The Awareness and Effectiveness of Charity Trustees in England and Wales report in 2017 showed that charity trustees are predominantly white (92%) with less than 3% being black.

The moral question and business case for diversity is a given and there has been numerous research on the benefits of diverse views and lived experiences contributing to improved decision making.

However, there appears to be limited research from an academic perspective around the UK context.

My initial research into non-profit boards and ethnic minority representation indicates a strong US bias. Although a useful starting point to provide context (boards/board Governance) against the population (Ethnic Minorities) and what that means for representation, motivation, and engagement, it does not consider the UK perspective. An initial scoping literature review had the objective of identifying literature on ethnic minority volunteering, literature on ethnic minority UK Non-profit Board Governance and identification of gaps in the current literature. From my initial scoping review, I found that the literature on ethnic minority representation on UK non-profit boards returned limited results. There is a bias towards US based organisations and as we are aware, the economic, political, and social context is very different in the UK.

I am at the beginning of my journey as a Doctoral Research Associate at Henley Business School, researching ethnic minority representation on UK non-profit boards. Trustees Unlimited are very kindly supporting this research, aligning with their vision of diversity and their commitment to inclusion. As I progress along this journey, I hope to provide regular updates on my research.

As part of my qualitative research, I am keen to speak to ethnic minority board trustees. ” Darren Franklin.

Please do contact Darren Franklin if you would be interested in participating in this research. .

“We believe that fostering diversity and inclusivity within trustee boards is not just a moral obligation, but a strategic imperative. By supporting this research on ethnic minority representation in UK Charity Boards, we aim to uncover insights that will drive positive change and enable a more equitable and impactful charitable sector.”

Ian Joseph, Managing Director, Trustees Unlimited

Our commitment to diversity & inclusion

Trustees Unlimited believes that diverse boards strengthen society. We will strive to remove the barriers that prevent people from applying to become trustees and help our clients to recruit and support people with a wide range of skills and lived experience.

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