Case study: how Barnardo's attracted a diverse board

The charity ran a press campaign to find BME trustees - but word of mouth did the trick, writes Nathalie Thomas


The challenge

In February, Barnardo's launched a campaign to encourage people from black and minority ethnic communities to join its governing body, the Barnardo's Council. The council, which is made up of 20 trustees, had three BME representatives, all of whom were due to retire by October.

The process

The campaign was run and designed in-house. The media team began by sending out press releases alerting magazines and newspapers to the fact that Barnardo's was looking for trustees from BME backgrounds.

This was supported by paid-for adverts in The Guardian and several papers produced by the Ethnic Media Group, including the Caribbean Times. An advert was also posted on Barnardo's website.

An internal email was sent to staff at the charity asking them to recommend people the nominations committee could approach. Many of the individuals suggested by staff were able to make further recommendations.

The outcome

The media campaign and print adverts resulted in 21 applications, and the nominations committee received several strong applications as a result of the staff recommendations.

A short list of four candidates was drawn up in April. They were invited to visit their local Barnardo's branch before attending an interview in London, where they were questioned by a panel of trustees, HR staff and the company secretary. Each applicant also had a meeting with the chief executive.

Two trustees were invited to join the board in May, both of whom had applied after being approached by the nominations committee. Joseph Augustin, assistant director of people at Barnardo's and the campaign's co-ordinator, says it was important to make use of staff contacts because the 'word-of-mouth' approach produced several of the strongest candidates.

"Everyone in the organisation had a vital role to play," he says. "We had a phenomenal response from the advert, but the people we appointed came from recommendations, so you should definitely use that internal resource."

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