Editorial: Diversity - getting it right is a long, slow struggle

Third Sector editor Stephen Cook on this month's issue

Stephen Cook
Stephen Cook

The easy response to our findings on ethnic diversity and gender balance in the top charities would be to say that it's all dreadful and something must be done. From both a business and a moral point of view, it's obviously wrong that the sector isn't doing better on this front, as those quoted in our analysis  testify. But there are no simple answers to the sector's share of one of society's most complex problems.

There might be some charities that, given their location and their beneficiaries, don't make this issue a priority. Perhaps they should. There might be others that do make it a priority but are not making progress, either because they are going about it the wrong way or haven't had the right applications. There might be others that have quailed and stuffed it in the "too difficult" tray.

Charities generally like to think of themselves as socially progressive; diversity might be one of the areas where they don't always live up to that self-image. At the same time, they can't by themselves offset all the educational, social and economic disadvantages that lie behind continued discrimination in the workplace generally. Achieving equality is a long, slow struggle.

Another such struggle is getting the formula right for fundraising self-regulation. Matters moved forward recently when Richard Taylor of Cancer Research UK was appointed chair of the Institute of Fundraising, one of the three bodies concerned. Our interview with him reveals him to be focused, thoughtful and open to change. But change needs to come quickly if expectations of a more effective system are to be realised.

We also talk to Michelle Mitchell, the single-minded new chief executive of the MS Society and a possible role model for rising leaders. And we look at the decision not to award further funding to the Third Sector Research Centre: why cut off at the knees a successful venture like this?

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