Charity boards are male and stale, survey finds

Men in suits

​Survey finds that Scottish charity boards are a boys club

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9th March 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Scottish charities lack diversity at board level – and don’t reflect the communities they support.

That’s the findings of a survey of Scots voluntary organisations by auditors RSM.

Its Green Lights Ahead poll canvassed the opinions of 62 senior figures in the sector.

It found that the majority (66%) of charity committees in Scotland were made up of men, and almost a quarter (23%) of them is over the age of 66, with only a small percentage (10%) under the age of 35.

Janet Hamblin, partner and RSM’s head of charities in Scotland, said: ‘A diverse committee brings different skills and viewpoints, and better reflects the communities that a charity is looking to serve. This, in turn, will equip a charity with better tools to effectively carry out their responsibilities.

"Although the disparity between gender and age representation is concerning, it is not surprising.

“Small steps to move towards increased diversity are good to see, but a significant cultural shift, including changing attitudes and recruitment processes, is needed to transform the sector.”

The survey also highlighted that almost all Scottish charities (93%) have a risk register in place, but only 24% update this annually highlighting that charities could be left vulnerable.

This could leave charities open to rising levels of fraud.

Hamblin added: "A risk register is an effective way to mitigate threats, and it can also be used to aid operational and strategic management of a charity.

“However, to be effective it needs to be updated at least four times a year to make sure the information is live, up-to-date and relevant. 

"Once any risks are identified it is also important for audit committees to get assurance that controls are operating efficiently.

“Threats to the Scottish charity sector such as fraud, which has increased by 12% in the last 12 months, change rapidly and without a regular review we could see these levels rise further.

“It is crucial that charities change the role of the risk register and place it at the heart of strategic plans.”

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