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Don’t run alone – useful advice for women or a continuation of victim blaming?

by Jade Secker

thisgirlcan
Image from #ThisGirlCan 

How many people run in the UK? Whether as a means of stress relief, to get fit or as part of a running club; the numbers are in their millions. Especially with the warmer weather on the way and the London Marathon sprinkling inspiration across the nation. Furthermore, with thanks to campaigns such as “This Girl Can”, a record number of women are now putting on their trainers and heading for the outdoors. This is great news; not only for the nations physical health but exercise is also known to reduce stress and anxiety and so could have a positive impact on mental health too.

REACTIONS ARE DISTURBING

JogOn.png
Imagery from the #JogOn campaign

However, disturbingly, I recently came across the #JogOn campaign released by Avon and Somerset Police Force urging women to only run in pairs or groups to help prevent sexual abuse and threatening behaviour from men. This goes hand in hand with other statements from police forces advising women to not wear headphones whilst out walking or running, again, to avoid becoming the prey of sexual predators lurking in society.

 

FUELLING A VICTIM BLAMING CULTURE

Now whilst this may be seen by many as simple advice to try and tackle a growing issue, for me it is fuelling a victim blaming culture that puts the responsibility on women to change very normal behaviours and avoids the real problem.

Jessica Eaton, a campaigner against sexual violence commented saying,

“Headphones don’t rape women, nor do skirts, or dark streets, or clubs, or alcohol, or parties, or sleepovers, or school uniforms. Name the perpetrators. Name the problem. We can’t help if we can’t even name it.”

And I could not agree more.

IT IS CATEGORICALLY WRONG

How many reports of sexual assault do we see where the article will comment on what a woman was wearing or where she was walking alone when an attack took place. Why does this matter? Wording like this adds to a belief that ‘she was asking for it,’ and this is categorically wrong. It is not illegal to walk alone, wear headphones, or wear a short skirt. However, it IS illegal to physically assault, harass or rape someone.

WE NEED TO REJECT THE NOTION

crime scene do not cross signage

As a society we need to stop putting the onus on women to change their behaviour – behaviours that we all exhibit and should be free to, without having to worry whether we may or may not get attacked.  Instead we need to turn our attention to the crimes taking place on a daily basis and reject any notion of this being acceptable behaviour.

LET’S STOP PRETENDING

Unfortunately, we do live in a scary world and so there is a level of personal care and safety that everyone should undertake; this I understand. However, if we stand any sort of chance to tackling the breadth of these crimes, we need to see a major shift in focus and stop turning a blind eye to what is truly going on.

pexels-photo-531970.jpeg

Let’s stop suggesting changes women need to make to prevent attacks happening to them and shift our attention to putting firmer laws and punishments into place to stop attacks happening in the first place; fundamentally, this is much closer to the core of the problem and the only thing that will ever make violent individuals accountable for their actions.

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Jade Secker is the senior community fundraiser at The Haven Wolverhampton. You can connect with Jade Secker on LinkedIn hereThe Haven Wolverhampton is a charity that supporting women and dependent children who are vulnerable to domestic violence, homelessness and abuse. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or visit there website here.

WHAT IS SPEAKING AT THE LARGEST CONFERENCE FOR FUNDRAISERS IN EUROPE REALLY LIKE?

by Susan Booth

The Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention is the largest fundraising conference in Europe and the biggest outside the US, regularly attracting over 2,500 attendees. It’s been a dream of mine to speak there for many years. But for a long time, I thought I didn’t have anything to say. Turns out I was wrong.

AM I REALLY GOOD ENOUGH?

I have had lots of experience of public speaking. From media interviews to golf days to black tie galas, I have no fear of getting up in front of people and talking. But I’ve always had a bit of impostor syndrome about speaking somewhere as prestigious as the National Convention, thinking I didn’t have a big enough project to speak about or didn’t have that undefinable “guru” factor. In addition to that, the charity I work for is quite small and new compared to some of the organisations represented at the National Convention. Target Ovarian Cancer was founded eleven years ago and we turnover just over £2.5million a year.

But we are an organisation with huge ambitions – our vision is to double ovarian cancer survival by 2050.

INSPIRED BY WOMEN WITH CANCER

Last year I had the privilege of working on Target Ovarian Cancer’s first-ever integrated campaign. “It’s time to TAKE OVAR” centred on women with ovarian cancer, researchers and GPs – making them more visible and giving them space to have their voices heard. Every image and came quote came from someone the charity has a direct relationship with. It helped me to see the importance of women taking up space, asserting themselves, being heard, and ultimately using their voice to help change the future for others. It was the obvious choice for us to present on…especially as it achieved such great results.

IT WAS A GAME-CHANGER

The campaign has been a game-changer for Target Ovarian Cancer, bringing in thousands of engaged new supporters. GDPR came in halfway through the campaign and since then we’ve more than doubled the number of people we can contact. The campaign has unlocked hundreds of thousands in pro bono support, and we’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in our digital reach.

SHAKING OFF IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

So, this year I really felt I had a reason to take over the stage – I’m really proud of the “TAKE OVAR” campaign and everything it’s doing to change the future for women with ovarian cancer. But really I should have felt that all along. That’s part of what impostor syndrome does. Shaking it off means becoming more self-assured, more confident in your assertions and in the work you’re doing. I want to encourage all women and non-binary people who may be thinking, as I did, that they have nothing to share. You do. Here are some of my tales of preparing for this speech to help you stage your own “TAKE OVAR”.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

My colleague, Alexandra Holden, co-presented with me. We supported each other through the whole process. Having another woman and incredible charity leader alongside me gave me the boost I needed.

PREPARATION IS KEY

We spent days preparing the slides, organising our thinking and practising our delivery. Preparation is key – it will help keep your nerves under control. People notice if you haven’t practised, and it made me feel more confident too. We were lucky to be offered some speaker training with the Tony Elischer Foundation, and followed that up by practising in front of members of our teams to get their feedback.

KEEPING NERVES UNDER CONTROL

I barely slept the night before and on the day struggled to concentrate before our session. We had 45 minutes to present and answer questions, so our script was prepped and ready to go in large font so we could refer to it easily. We also made sure to visit the room before our session – things felt more comfortable once we knew the lay of the land.

WHAT IT’S ACTUALLY LIKE ON STAGE

All the things you think you’ll be conscious of, you’re really not, when you get going. Although we had the notes in front of us I hardly read them. This gave me time to focus on my breathing, body language and intonation. I tried to stand tall with my shoulders back and I caught the eyes of people as I was speaking. Having practised, I knew it didn’t matter if I lost my place in the notes, because I knew by heart where I would be on the page. Everyone in the room looked interested and there were faces I recognised, which definitely helped.

ENDING ON A HIGH NOTE

After we had done a final Q&A session, plenty of people came over for a chat, which was a huge boost. We’ve been asked to speak again by other organisations and we had the most amazing feedback on social media. But my favourite moment was the enthusiastic Convention Volunteer who came to say ours was by far the best presentation they had seen.

BREATHE IT ALL IN

The chance to celebrate and share successes, learning and knowledge whilst practising your presentation skills is important for our core motivation and personal development. When I looked at all the tweets of photos of our presentation I felt proud of what we had achieved, and that all the energy that went into the TAKE OVAR campaign is now having a ripple effect, inspiring other fundraisers to raise more for the causes they’re passionate about. It’s also given us a new network of contacts, leading to new conversations and new inspiration.

Speaking in public is a time to grow your personal brand, talk about something you know and love, and share what motivates you with your peers. Remember everyone in the room will be willing you on. It’s your time to stand up, TAKE OVAR and be heard.

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Susan Booth is the director of development at Target Ovarian Cancer. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Fostering a feedback-friendly culture could save your charity from extinction

by Susheila Juggapah

Hearing feedback is hard. It’s challenging to hear what other people think about our work, the way we operate or our ideas. But feedback fuels change. It super powers creativity and speeds up impact. Yes, it can be uncomfortable at times. But it keeps us accountable to the people we serve. 

The third sector already knows transparency is important, particularly for building donor confidence. Organisations can use transparency to improve trust with staff. They can also use it to create more inclusive organisations. But this only works with a commitment to openness.

It’s time for charity leaders to harness this superpower for all aspects of charity business. To do it successfully, charities should aim to create an open and transparent culture that embraces giving feedback, receiving feedback, and making it part of the organisation’s culture.

Listening is our only option

We now live in a world that simply won’t tolerate products that don’t suit our specific needs.

Tales of Blockbusters and Kodak are frequently used to remind us that even household names cannot rely on their legacy. They must deliver products customers want.

We’ve also have enough of inauthentic brands that don’t walk the walk because we can see right through them. This goes for charities too. The Charity Commission’s 2018 Trust in charities report says,

“The public want greater authenticity not just more transparency, they want to know that charities are what they say they are.”

And it’s not just your external audiences. Staff have had enough too. For example, on pay transparency, a YouGov poll found the majority of Brits (56%) would back pay transparency measures to tackle income inequality

There are also indications younger people expect to be able to see what’s going on inside organisations before joining. In a survey by PwC of millennials in the workplace, 76% of those in the financial services sector said they considered the employer’s record on equality and diversity when accepting their current role. 

Critically, people really want to know their opinion is valued. Former Baxter International CEO and now a clinical professor of leadership at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Harry Kraemer believes good leaders listen to the people around them. Leaders, he says, “establish trust because they demonstrate they really care about what each person has to say.” Without trust, the people around you will not give you honest feedback. 

The technology is there. It’s only a matter of time before users, supporters, staff and volunteers give up on established charities to set up their own campaigns, movements and networks. If charities don’t become more inclusive, they risk becoming redundant. 

How to do it: lessons from a bank 

Like a conversation, open cultures need someone to listen and ideally act on the feedback. One way to show you’re listening to be honest about what you’ve heard. 

The fastest growing companies are putting transparency at the heart of their business. Take the digital challenger bank Monzo which has seen phenomenal growth recently. In 2016, it set the record for quickest crowd-funding campaign in history when it raised £1m in 96 seconds on Crowdcube.

Monzo differs from traditional banks because it openly expresses the relationship it has with its users. It prides itself on transparency and community, aiming to meet the needs of the Monzo tribe in ways traditional banks have failed to do for so long. Referencing its community, Monzo, says: 

You hold us accountable and help us focus on what matters

Monzo has published a lot on its internal culture. The bank regularly publishes data on how representative and diverse it is internally, looking at things like gender identity, ethnicity, age, disability, caring responsibilities, education, religion, sexual orientation and more. It has also shown its progress over the years and laid out an action plan. 

The bank also uses lots of techniques to prioritise transparency. For example, meetings are open to everyone, even if you just want to listen. The organisation also has email transparency, which means by default, every email that is sent can be read by anyone in the company. They also give everyone access to documents and encourage everyone to question the decisions made in governance meetings with the board of directors and the executive committee. 

The result: Monzo isn’t just telling you it’s open and honest, it’s being open and honest. Its rapid growth is testament to the faith the community place in it. But ultimately, Monzo is a bank, not a campaign or movement. So if a bank can create a culture of openness and honesty, a charity certainly can. 

Tips for building feedback-friendly organisations

There are a lot of examples of how to make your organisation more open. Here are some easy reads:

The idea behind this, is that it prevents problems from staying hidden in one small part of the company, and makes sure everyone’s thinking about how to solve the problems we have.”

Embracing feedback could radically change your organisation. It could mean you recruit more diversely, get closer to your audience’s needs and build trust with all aspects of your organisation. Or you could wait for something like Monzo to swoop in and leave you obsolete. 

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Susheila Juggapah is a digital professional and former editor at CharityComms, the membership network for charity communicators. She writes about diversity and representation in the third sector. 

Should white men step aside?

There was a section at the end of  this response to the recent NCVO appointment that really hit home.  “Should white men be stepping aside?”

It is a question that needs further consideration and one that I’ve been thinking about for a while – as someone who benefits from all the privileges society has to offer.  Whilst the (white, female) CEO of the Charity Commission responded to this question saying she didn’t think it was necessary, I would like to offer an explanation as to why I think it is an action white men need to consider.

If we are to create a sector that is more diverse and representative of the communities, and causes, we represent, perhaps the best thing we can sometimes do as allies is to do…. nothing.

This is not an easy piece to write. I appreciate not all will agree with me. I write with no specific case in mind. These are thoughts I have had for a while and this is a timely opportunity to contribute to a discussion to get us to make changes we all want to see.  I absolutely don’t have all the answers, but I think this should be part of the conversation, uncomfortable as it is.

One of my learnings recently was the difference between equality and equity.  Its easy to create a level playing field, in fact the law requires it.  But we know that there are many factors that don’t make things “equal” and that more effort is required to ensure we have equity.  Essentially, equality doesn’t consider systematic and subconscious biases, or the ability to correct historical wrongs.

equality

Which is why, despite our sector often leading on the front-line of creating a more equal society, it is embarrassing that our workforce remains mostly as having privileged characteristics, more so as you reach senior positions.  As a result, the Institute of Fundraising launched the Change Collective to find solutions to the issue and create an excellent manifesto for change which will no doubt make significant improvements in this area over the long-term.

So those of us with the greatest privileges can support, encourage and implement the manifesto for change – be a good ally of these under-represented groups.  But perhaps we could, and should, go further.

For their 2019 Convention, the Institute of Fundraising encouraged more speakers from different backgrounds to apply to speak.  After a few years of speaking there, I decided the best way I could support this drive was to step aside and expect my place to be taken up by someone from a different background to me.

Maybe I am a better speaker than others who want to speak and this doesn’t give good value to those attending.  Perhaps I could have used the platform to speak up on these issues.  I’m sure there are many better speakers than me from different backgrounds, but what has helped me be a confident, competent speaker?

I had an excellent education, supported by my parents. It helped me get into a good university.  This helped me get my first job in fundraising straight after university.  This first job helped me get a head start on a career, landing me a managerial job after a few years.  And now I manage a team at a large charity.  Throughout school, university and work, I have received presentation skills training and had the opportunity to present to a range of audiences to practice my skills.

Am I better presenter than other people, or have my privileges given me the skills and practice to be accepted as a speaker at convention?  I realised that in such circumstances, I could best contribute to the Change Collective by stepping aside and allowing others to take my place.

Which brings us to recruitment.

There is an understandable desire to create an equal playing field.  To encourage people from different backgrounds to get into the sector, to apply for roles, to have recruitment panels that reflect the candidates.  The law also has an influence in making sure things are ‘equal’ or ‘even’.  So, the focus is on getting more diverse candidates applying, shortlisted and being interviewed.

But is equal, fair?  Will those of us with the greatest privileges often be ‘the best candidate’ precisely because of our privileges throughout our lives – education, getting first jobs, getting promotions and other societal benefits we have been given – sometimes just because we have a ‘native’ sounding name.  This puts us in the best position to get jobs, no matter how many widely roles are advertised, no matter what the selection process, no matter who we interview and no matter who sits on the recruitment panel.

So how do we truly break the cycle? 

It’s a tough question, but needs to be asked.  We are in strange times and, let’s be honest, we are struggling to stop the reverse of the advances our sector has achieved for non-privileged groups as hate crime increases across almost all groups.  And depressingly, the current UK political trajectory shows no great balancing up in society for those with protected characteristics.  We’re not about to see the fundamental changes needed to education, housing. welfare, justice and all the other systematic barriers people face throughout their lives to create that “level playing field”.

We need drastic action in many areas in society: ensuring nationalism and fascist ideas are left at the margins; defeating the threat of climate destruction; reducing the vast inequalities that are growing in society; ensuring the internet is a force for good, not evil.  And if we truly want a more diverse sector, then perhaps one drastic action we can do as privileged individuals is step aside.

People without privileges have been forced to live without an even playing field throughout history.  Levelling it up is equal, but not fair.  Perhaps it’s time those of us with privileges to create an unequal playing field the other way if we want to achieve true equity in our sector – and in wider society.

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This blog was written by a white, male fundraiser. We are not sharing his identity.  The purpose of the platform continues to be to increase female thought-leadership in the charity sector. We are publishing the blog’s content as we believe that the opinions within it present one element of a debate that we should all be having.

What does fundraising ethically even mean?

by Ruby Bayley-Pratt

The recent Game of Thrones petition to have a disappointing ending re-written by “competent writers” is a beautiful, if frivolous, example of how our relationship with the things we consume has changed. We feel we have not only a personal stake, but a right to challenge and question. And we have the means to do it…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how supporters would react if, as a sector, we were totally transparent about where our money comes from – particularly when it comes to major donors and corporate partnerships. Whilst there is some research and guidance out there, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent approach to ethics across fundraising and I fear this could cause problems down the road.

In a world where trust in charities continues to decline, ethical consumption is on the rise, and our fundraising thought leaders are stressing the need to move away from transactional fundraising products to values-led supporter engagement, I don’t think we can leave this out of our conversations about the future of fundraising.

The fact that our approach to ethical fundraising across the sector is inconsistent has been acknowledged time and time again. At best, we have a list of industries we won’t work with and a screening process to mitigate against any reputational risk. At worst, we have nothing in place at all and rely on the judgement and, often, politics of individual members of staff.

In my experience, I have found that there tend to be two camps of fundraisers when it comes to this issue: those that believe we shouldn’t take funds which could compromise our mission and our responsibility to wider societal good (assuming we have one) and those who believe that what matters most is that we do good for our beneficiaries* with that money regardless of where it comes from or how we get it (‘robbing the rich to feed the poor’).  There is, of course, nuance in all of this and pragmatically, I think charities should probably position themselves somewhere on a spectrum between the two. That said, if you were to ask me what I truly believe, I struggle to swallow the latter.

Firstly, I think taking money from an industry or individual which undermines your mission – whether that’s through the work they do or the behaviours they demonstrate – does as much, if not more, of a disservice to your beneficiaries in the long-term than taking the money in the first place. For example, at Bloody Good Period, large period product companies are desperate to partner with us and we could make a healthy sum accepting their offers. But these companies play a huge role in perpetuating the stigma and shame which contributes to menstrual inequity – the very social issue we are trying to solve – in the first place. By taking their money, we enable them to continue doing that and make them look good in the process. So, we don’t. And we’re doing alright.

Secondly, I would like to see us questioning how our decisions about how and where we source our funds from are linked to things like climate crisis, gender inequality, and racism. We are increasingly being asked and asking others not to separate themselves from these issues as individuals; should we not be asking the same of our organisations?

Finally, there’s the question of poverty porn – a subject which I could write a whole separate blog about. Time and time again I am told “yeah, but it works”. And I know that’s what the research tells us. But what it ‘works’ at is bringing in cash and the starting point for that is a focus on growth rather than what’s best for our beneficiaries. Much like my first point, my fundamental belief is that the long-term damage of using tactics like this far outweighs the short-term good we can achieve as organisations. Again, at Bloody Good we refuse to use images or stories from the people we work with in our communications or fundraising…

All of the above is my personal opinion. What I would love to know is how charity supporters feel. Do they care if we respond to natural disasters over here but take money from extractive industries over there? Or if we campaign for women’s rights but take money from a reported sexual harasser? I don’t know and I think we might be a little bit afraid to ask them…

 

*I have used the word beneficiaries throughout for ease of understanding but I’d like to categorically document that I hate it. At Bloody Good Period we refer to “the people we work with” instead.

@RubyBayleyPratt

It’s time to re-connect

by Emily Petty

Humans have a basic need to connect – to be loved. Maslow’s hierarchy of need places love and belonging as the third human need after basic physiological needs and safety. However, studies on infants have shown that if you leave an infant with no physical contact but make sure they are fed and clean they fail to thrive, develop or grow.

Like infants we need to feel connected to those around us if we are going to succeed and thrive at work.

Sadly, we are feeling more disconnected than ever. Take the open plan office, the theory is that by having everyone working in one space you are instantly connected with your colleagues. And yet studies have shown that the open plan office decreases connection and increases stress. An article in Arch Daily ‘Why open plan offices don’t work and some alternatives that do’ said of a test of open plan working “The employees suffered according to every measure, the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and instead of feeling closer, co-workers felt distant, dissatisfied and resentful.”

Remote working is on the rise – which is a good thing. But having managed a remote team, I know the challenges and opportunities this brings. When teams creating connection is all the more important. Often really small things can become big barriers. For example, if you have regular conference calls it is important to notice if someone isn’t contributing and ask if there is a problem. It might be that they feel un prepared, perhaps they don’t have the agenda or they don’t know who else is in the room. Small things that often get overlooked can increase the sense of isolation and loneliness.

WHAT IMPACT DOES LACK OF CONNECTION HAVE IN THE WORK PLACE?

Loneliness is directly related to stress, anxiety and exhaustion. In ‘Dare to Lead’ Brené Brown shares the story of Colonel DeDe Halfhill who is Director of innovation, analysis and leadership development for Air Force Global Strike Command made up of 33,000 officers and enlisted and civilian airmen. At a presentation she opened the floor to questions, an airman asked if the work was going to slow down because everyone was really tired. As she explored the issue with the group it soon became clear that the group were actually lonely – they had no connection and that was causing them to become burnt out.

If staff do not feel connected, they do not feel safe or able to speak up when things are going wrong, no one wants to be the dissenting voice. Trust breaks down and there is a lack of psychological safety.

SO HOW DO YOU BUILD CONNECTION?

Here are a few thoughts and ideas. I’ve tried some of these sometimes they have worked sometimes they haven’t. But if we don’t try, we will never really open ourselves up to those around us.

Starts with the leader – You can’t expect your team to build connection if you do not model the behaviour in the daily life of your team. Creating connection is about building trust. Building trust takes time and is about the small, seemingly insignificant actions that complied together make a strong bond. John Gottman from University of California says. “Trust is built in very small moments, which I call ‘Sliding doors’ moments.” That might be the opportunity to quickly thank someone for their contribution in a meeting as you walk back to your desks or being available for people to feedback or mention a new idea to you – it is the compounding effect of those moments that build connection.

Create physical or virtual space for teams to connect – I don’t have the answer to the open plan office and working from home challenges but it is really important to be conscious of making space for people to both interact and get deep work done. Have a think about

  • The space in your office for staff to relax and spend time together.
  • Where is the kettle or water cooler? Could they be in a place that helps different teams interact in new ways?
  • How are you using virtual tools? Why not create a quick and simple virtual check in system with your remote team so each day you are asking how people are and if they have any challenges?

Create moments to connect – some of these ideas might seem cheesy but it is also true that sometimes we have to deliberately encourage connection.

  • Start a meeting with success sharing – encourage people to share what they are pleased about and why.
  • Play the sit-down game – see my previous blog
  • Try a classic team building game like the marshmallow and spaghetti game. Make sure you allow time for the group to reflect on what it felt like, what they learnt etc.
  • Lego Model Game – Sometimes it is a big ask to ask people to share how they are feeling. The Lego Model game gives the group lots of broken up Lego people. Ask the group to create their Lego model to reflect how they feel today. It gives people the space to have a cow girl head and a surfer body and explain why.
  • Have regular feedback sessions – regularly asking the team to simply reflect on What Went Well and what could have been Even Better If opens dialogue and encourages a culture of feedback and learning from failure.

I challenge you to try at least one of these ideas and see how things change – then keep going. Building any relationship takes time, connecting is made due to a series of small actions.

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Emily Petty, is a culture and fundraising consultant. She is passionate about helping charities build a relationship led approach to fundraising and supporting them to unlock potential and manage change. You can find her on Twitter @EmilyPetty1 and on LinkedIn.

So…they hired another white man.

by Mandy Johnson

This Thursday was one of those complicated days for me. In the morning I took part in a panel discussion at the “Women in Civil Society Leadership Conference”, hosted by Inclusive Boards. It was an inspiring morning full of speakers who had an interest in inclusion and diversity. I wanted to stay all day to soak up the wisdom of the people in the room. Sadly, I was not afforded that luxury.

EXPERT SPEAKER TO “MUMMY” IN ONE TRAIN RIDE

I snuck out of the conference early so that I could take my son to an appointment. I scoffed down a sandwich on the train and went from “Mandy Johnson” back to “Mummy”. Later that evening I received a message from a friend of mine,

So NCVO has announced its new CEO… Lots of gushing tweets but also some surprise behind the scenes and talk about missed opportunities.”

I turned straight to Twitter to see what they were talking about and there it was…

NCVO announcement

Karl Wilding has been appointed as the new CEO of NCVO. The sector’s largest infrastructure body has chosen another white man as its leader. I couldn’t ignore the irony; I had missed the announcement because I’d been tied up with “mummy duties” and a conference about increasing female leadership in the sector.

ANOTHER WHITE MAN

Over the last two days I’ve had more messages from more people questioning NCVO’s choice. One friend wrote the following to me,

“…with all due respect to Karl Wilding, it’s incredibly disappointing that the largest support body in the UK did not place diversity at the heart of the CEO search. While they have published their process in order to claim transparency, Karl was hired by white male institution in 1998 and was virtually groomed to take Stuart’s place. What an incredible waste of resources and opportunities. Am I nuts to think this??”

 Of course, I reassured her that I didn’t think she was nuts… yet there was something stopping me from outrightly agreeing with her.

THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB?

Part of my dilemma was that, from my limited experience of Karl, whilst he lacks some of the characteristics some of us are so desperate to see represented in his sort of job, I think he’ll make an excellent CEO in many ways. He’s a man who cares deeply about the sector, is an active volunteer for local charities and keeps himself very well-informed. He’s also a nice bloke, without any airs and graces. He does his best to champion diversity and inclusion and he’s got twenty years of experience in navigating the complex world of NCVO – and doing it well. What if he really is the best person for the job?

SHOULD WHITE MEN BE STEPPING ASIDE?

A question from the conference earlier that morning has been reverberating round my head. A woman of colour asked the white, female CEO of the Charity Commission whether we should be encouraging white men to step aside to leave space for a different type of leader to be given a chance. Stephenson (the CEO) responded by saying that she didn’t think this was necessary. She suggested that, now the conversation about equality, diversity and inclusion in the charity sector has started, change would happen naturally over time.

IS CHANGE COMING?

As we were hearing that change is coming, on the notepad in front of me, were some of the stats that showed little evidence to support this:

  • 92% of all charity trustees in the UK are white[i]
  • 91% of charity sector employees are white[ii]
  • 3% of people in senior leadership teams are BAME[iii]
  • 64% of charity trustees are male [i]
  • 25% of senior leadership teams are female [iv].

With Karl’s appointment failing to contribute a change to those statistics, we remain the worst sector in the country in terms of racial diversity.

SHOULD WHITE MEN BE STEPPING ASIDE?

The second interview panel (who recommended Karl’s appointment to the Board) was an all-white panel. The charity’s Board didn’t recognise what they would miss out on by not have a more diverse range of people making recommendations to them at this point. So, if Karl had stepped aside, would it have really made any difference to the statistics above?

The reality is we will never know. But the chances are that, if Karl hadn’t put himself forward, another white man probably would…and he may have been less qualified. Perhaps an organisation that has twenty-five years’ experience of employing a white, male CEOs may need just one more, with an understanding of diversity and inclusion, in order for it to drive the change required to become a truly diverse and inclusive organisation.

I hope that Karl will be that man – and I believe he might be. But in order to truly to deliver on this goal, perhaps he should be willing to move on when he’s delivered the changes that will make it possible for a different type of leader to take the reins?

[i] Charity Commission Taken on trust: awareness and effectiveness of charity trustees in England and Wales (2017)

[ii] NCVO Civil Society Almanac (2018)

[iii] Inclusive boards, Charities: Inclusive Governance (2018)

[iv] Inclusive boards, Charities: Inclusive Governance (2018)