Third Sector Survey: Most trustees are older whites

Ninety-two per cent of trustees describe themselves as 'white British' and trustee boards are still dominated by older men, according to the National Trustee Survey by Third Sector and nfpSynergy.

The survey of 559 staff and 730 trustees from 259 organisations shows that British Asian trustees have the greatest presence out of all of the ethnic minority groups, representing 2 per cent of all trustees. Only 1 per cent of trustees are black British.

Organisations helping older people have the most ethnically diverse trustee boards, followed by children's and young people's charities. The international development charities that took part didn't have any trustees in the black, Asian or 'other white' categories.

The bulk of trustees, 61 per cent, are aged 55 or over - in fact, there are more trustees aged over 75 than under the age of 34. Sixty-two per cent of trustees are men, compared with 39 per cent of staff.

However, 75 per cent of trustees thought their charity had a diverse board "reflecting the complexity of the organisation and stakeholders".

Linda Laurance, a governance consultant, said she was disappointed but not surprised by the findings, particularly on age. She said: "I am very saddened that we don't appear to have made much progress since we have all become aware of the need to address age representation."

Laurance suggested charities should consider maximum terms for trustees to attract new blood.

But she warned that diversity cannot be changed overnight. "It must be part of long-term planning," she said.

She added that diversity was not always a priority for trustee boards.

"Regardless of age and ethnicity, a board needs the skills that will enable it to be most effective in the interests of the organisation it is there to serve," she said.

"Sometimes that will mean not actually having representation from right across the community."

- Full results of the survey will be in the Interaction 11 supplement on 5 September

KEY POINTS

- There are more charity trustees over the age of 75 than there are under 34

- Of all ethnic minority groups, British Asians have the greatest presence, representing 2 per cent of trustees

- Only 1 per cent of trustees are black

- The survey found that the majority of ethnic minority trustees are involved with groups helping older people.

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