There have been complaints over many years that too many charity trustees are white, 60+ males.
In my experience, that’s true. Most of the trustee boards Minerva works with fall into that category, though truthfully the majority are making a major effort to recruit more women, and younger people generally. Equally importantly, the small charities we work with are looking to the skills they need, and how potential trustees with those skills can be persuaded to come on board.
But why such a preponderance of older men? Undoubtedly, retired people as a group – and men in particular – have time on their hands which they wish to invest for the good of the community generally, or for specific disadvantaged and underprivileged groups. But the younger people charities need to attract mainly have full-time jobs – so either they must persuade their employers to give them time off or, if they are self-employed, they need to take a cut in income to do this voluntary work.
In March a bill was proposed by Susan Elan Jones MP [The Charity Trustees (Time off for Duties) Bill], seeking to amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to allow Trustees to take a reasonable amount of time off work to carry your their duties. However, what is being proposed is unpaid time off.
I am not sure this is reasonable, particularly if it applies equally to self-employed people. Magistrates, for example, if they are self-employed can claim income lost as a result of their duties up to a fixed figure. Local Government Councillors are paid, so if they are given unpaid time off work, they receive remuneration for their efforts.
Employers make much of corporate responsibility these days. Some practise what they preach, but for many it is little more than a PR exercise. Companies could, and should, demonstrate their support for the charity sector by giving their employees reasonable paid time off for Trustee Board duties. And the Government should show its support for the Sector by allowing self-employed people to claim the value of the time they devote to charities against tax.
If we want young and dynamic men and women on our Trustee Boards, we need to make reasonable provision for this and help, rather than hinder, their enthusiasm for voluntary work.