REPORT: MISSED EXPERTISE: MAPPING EXPERIENCES OF FIRST-TIME FOUNDATION TRUSTEES
Our research shows that there is emerging good practice at board level with a rich mixture of quick wins and more long-term strategic changes that Trusts and foundations – and charities, more broadly – can make in diversifying those that serve as chairs and trustees on their boards. In doing so, they can attract, retain and get the most from a wide range of people who would never previously have found themselves at board tables. These people bring with them a wide variety of skills, knowledge and expertise that is often missed on boards. Much of this missed expertise stems from lived experiences of, and proximity to, the issues that a grant-giving organisation focuses on, and subsequently positions such individuals as having deep understandings into the realities of communities. Such ability to understand and relate is often missing at board level, where working cultures and hiring practices prioritise those individuals from senior, highly professionalised, backgrounds.
This report focuses equally on the support that first-time trustees often require, alongside changes that trusts, foundations and charities may need to make in order to develop culturally more inclusive board environments. This report also seeks to shed light on the important role of chairs on boards, viewing them as fundamental to creating more inclusive board environments or in sustaining a culture which does not benefit first-time trustees from diverse backgrounds.