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Leadership 20:20 Commission publishes recommendations to improve quality of charity leadership

By John Plummer, Third Sector Online, 15 December 2011

Richard Doughty

Richard Doughty

The commission, chaired by Richard Doughty, says all voluntary sector staff 'should get 40 hours of professional development'

All charity staff and volunteers should receive 40 hours of professional development a year, according to a commission set up to improve the quality of voluntary sector leadership.

The Leadership 20:20 Commission, established by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in 2010, published a series of recommendations yesterday.

It identifies five areas of improvement: redressing inequalities; strengthening networks of emerging leaders; better staff and volunteer development; greater recognition of leadership among funders; and encouraging mobility across sectors.

Specific ideas include: the proposal for 40 hours of professional development, which the commission said should be built into appraisals; a national directory of mentors and mentees; pairing established leaders with emerging ones; and more "cross-fertilisation of good practice" with the private and public sectors.

The 16-person commission also calls for charity employees to be exempt from student loans for five years after completing their studies.

Many recommendations relate to improving the diversity of leadership. One says charities and recruitment agencies should "provide candidate shortlists that are representative of the wider population".

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the commission’s president, launched the report at the Christmas reception of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering at the House of Commons yesterday. She described the voluntary sector’s record on developing leaders from diverse backgrounds as "shameful".

Richard Doughty, chair of the commission and partnership development officer at the charity Advocacy Alliance, said: "Ensuring our sector has sustainable and resilient leadership is a challenge for every chief executive, chair and board – but also a shared responsibility for our sector’s partners, funders and government."

A monitoring panel, chaired by Grey-Thompson, will aim to implement the recommendations.

A group of ‘champion’ organisations will be appointed to oversee progress in each of the areas identified for improvement.

Sector skills council Skills – Third Sector was yesterday named as the first of these. It will aim to create a national framework to develop staff and volunteers.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of third sector leadership organisation Acevo, said: "We are very glad to be supporting the 20:20 commission in its work. In particular we welcome its focus on diversity. Diversity has come up as an area of real concern in the findings of our annual pay survey for several years now."

The full list of recommendations is available here.

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