Promoting equality, diversity and inclusion on a charity board

Following reputational damage caused by the unacceptable comments of a small number of people connected with the charity, Islamic Relief Worldwide has been exonerated of institutional anti-semitism in an independent review undertaken by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who has however recommended changes in governance to what he acknowledges is a “highly effective” charity, in order to prevent reoccurrence of such incidents and to reflect the charity’s growing internationalisation.

Some of these suggestions in the executive summary of Mr Grieve’s report may be of interest more generally to charities looking continuously to improve their governance and, in particular, to increase diversity on trustee boards: Ensure a Social Media policy is fit for purpose;

  • Update Trustees’ Code of Conduct;
  • Have more UK-based trustees for an international charity based and regulated in England and Wales;
  • Allow for truly independent trustees – ie those who have never previously had a connection with the charity, not just those who have not had a recent connection with it;
  • Consider open recruitment of trustees and possibly also of a non-Muslim trustee;
  • Have the operation and effectiveness of the board externally reviewed on a periodic basis (eg every three years);
  • Encourage diversity of gender and experience to ensure a broad range of skills and expertise on the board;
  • Limit trustee terms to three terms of three years or two terms of four;
  • Set up an association of friends of the charity to widen its network of support and to maintain contact with past staff and trustees.

Food for thought, especially in light of the enhanced emphasis on equality, diversity and inclusion in the recently refreshed Charity Governance Code…


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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