Action being called for to tackle lack of diversity among Scottish charity leaders

A report into the top 300 charities in Scotland has found that only 2% are from ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to 4% in the general population.

Of the minority of leaders from ethnic minorities, half are Asian British and the other half are split between black leaders and those who are international Asian.

The remaining 98% of top charity leaders are white, compared to 96% of the general population.

The report has been compiled by think tank David Hume Institute which says that leaders across all organisations in Scotland need to “actively champion diversity and provide the opportunities to ensure faster progress”.

It added: “More equal societies have higher productivity and high productivity allows more investment to create more equal societies.”

Its report urges charity leaders and sector organisations to take action to ensure they are promoting diversity in top roles.

Among key recommendations is for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to be given new powers to create a publicly available register of charity trustees to increase transparency and better monitor diversity in the sector.

“This could be an annual requirement when charities with an income of over £250,000 complete their annual returns and would bring Scottish charity trustees more closely in line with directors’ registration with Companies House and charity law in England and Wales”

It is estimated that around one in ten charities in Scotland would meet this income threshold.

In addition, charity leaders need to “challenge themselves with basic questions on assumptions and choices”, said the think tank.

“Every leader can find out how people from different backgrounds experience their organisation and find out how their own organisation is measuring progress. Every leader involved in recruitment can champion diversity of thought throughout the selection process.”

Organisational changes are also needed at and improving diversity “should be in every board’s line of sight and on the organisation’s risk register to help ensure organisations monitor and publish data on diversity”.

This is important as “what gets measured, gets done”.

Inclusive working cultures are also needed and potential bias in recruitment needs to be looked at, said the think tank, which is staging a live event into its findings today (Wed 9 February).

Gender inequality

The think tank’s report also found that 34% of leaders at top charities are female. Although this “compares favourable against other sectors”, says the think thnk, “urgent action is still needed to achieve greater gender equality”.

It found that religious charities had the worst gender ratio, with all its leaders featured in the analysis being male.

David Hume Institute added: “Like other types of organisations, lack of diversity of thought is a considerable risk for charities and action must be taken to avoid the pitfalls of group think.”

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