RSM and Santander launch new charity board diversity initiative

Leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM and bank Santander have launched a charity board initiative, in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh University, to help tackle the lack of diversity at board level in charities across Scotland.

Only around eight to ten per cent of Scottish Board Members are under the age of 35 highlighting that charities maybe missing out on a younger perspective on their strategy and performance.

The first launch event, held at Edinburgh Napier University, welcomed over 50 students and charities to discuss how young people could make a real difference and help to shape the strategy of charities, whilst gaining valuable, experience and employability skills. 

RSM and Santander have created a simple training programme that follows the Edinburgh Napier University Get on Board Competency Pathway, to deliver bronze, silver and gold accreditations and gives students practical experience of working with a volunteer charity. 

Janet Hamblin, partner and RSM’s head of charities in Scotland, said:

‘Currently charities in Scotland, and across the UK, do not generally reflect modern society and the communities they support. We know that the majority are made up of men, and a high percentage are over the age of 66, with only a small percentage under the age of 35.

‘Ultimately, 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, which is why we hope to engage a younger generation to get involved to help shape the charities of the future.

Arthur Lawrence, relationship director from Santander, said:

‘The sector is making small steps to move towards increased diversity which is good to see, but a significant cultural shift, including changing attitudes and recruitment processes, is needed to transform the sector. Our training and accreditations programme will not only support students to take an active role in the future strategy of Scottish charities, but it will offer the chance to gain key employability skills alongside academic studies – providing a comprehensive learning programme for students.’

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