Charities want governance code to have greater focus on ethics and safeguarding

The first refresh of the Charity Governance Code in three years must have a greater focus on ethics and safeguarding issues, a survey of charities has found.

The code, which promotes good governance practice for charities in England and Wales was last refreshed in 2017 but is being updated this year.

A consultation around the changes has shown widespread support among charities for a greater focus on ethical and safeguarding issues.

Around two thirds (62%) of charities agreed unequivocally or with qualified support that the code should say more about a charity’s ethical principles and the right to feel safe. Among small charities support rose to 67%.

One respondent said: “Safeguarding is very much in the spotlight and it is important to have appropriate policies and procedures in place.

“Ethics should underpin who you are as an organisation and how you work and interact with others. Without ethics how do you decide what is right and what is wrong?”

Another said a greater focus on ethical principles “is not only about protecting a charity’s reputation but also a question of ethos, values and culture”.

Inclusion and equality

The code’s steering group chair Rosie Chapman said that there is also wide support to “address aspects of inclusion and equality”.

The consultation took place between November 2019 and February 2020 and received almost 800 responses. Of those who responded nine out of ten have either fully, partly or working towards adopting the code.

While 84% said they are satisfied with the code, this figures to 42% among small charities.

“Ensuring that the Code is relevant for smaller charities is an area that the steering group will look at further to see what more, if anything, can be done to highlight the edition of the Code specifically for volunteer-led and run organisations,” said Chapman.

Plans to publish a new version of the code were delayed due to Covid-19 but the steering group hopes to launch the refresh later this year.

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