Trade unions are helping to bring diversity to charity leadership
I read with interest your article about the lack of diversity at senior levels in the top 50 fundraising charities. But I was disappointed that the positive steps that have been taken by trade unions on this issue were omitted from the analysis.
For many years, Unison's tens of thousands of members who work in the charity sector have had access to self-organised structures in the union, designed to develop the skills of members from traditionally under-represented groups and empower them to take leading roles in the union. The vice-chair of our national community service group is a disabled woman, and we insist on women being represented in proportion to their membership of Unison, where they form a clear majority. We are also heavily involved in a group of non-governmental organisations tackling problems about a lack of diversity.
Trade unions have worked with many employers in promoting equality in the workplace – maybe we are part of the solution.
Simon Watson, national officer, community and voluntary sector, Unison, London NW1
We are an equal opportunities employer – right up to the top
Your recent article on diversity highlighted some serious issues, many of which are not discussed often enough.
In May, I became the chief executive of the Abbeyfield Society, a charity with an income of more than £44m that provides housing to older people. I'm female and from a Sri Lankan background: in our organisation, four out of seven of the senior management team are female, as are four of our 12 board members.
As the first national living wage employer in the care sector, the Abbeyfield Society is leading the way in overcoming issues of discrimination and aims to focus on the individuals who choose to live with us by meeting their needs with the best-skilled employees, regardless of ethnicity or gender.
At Abbeyfield, we pride ourselves on being an equal opportunities employer and this is reflected in both our senior management and the board of trustees.
Natasha Singarayer, chief executive, the Abbeyfield Society, St Albans, Hertfordshire
Unincorporated charities could benefit from the CIO structure
Peter Cardy's Agony column makes good reading with its robust, no-nonsense approach. Unfortunately, a bit more is needed when it comes to questions such as an unincorporated charity finding it hard to convince its members to agree to incorporate as a company limited by guarantee.
Cardy's answer is valid, but it doesn't go far enough. The obvious answer is for the charity concerned to form itself into a charitable incorporated organisation. The CIO structure, which has been available now for unincorporated charities for nearly two years, was established in part with just such concerns in mind.
The CIO format enables a charity to have the benefits of incorporation with none of the drawbacks of a CLG. The format requires no guarantee by members, no faceless directors, no involvement with Companies House or company law and, depending on the size of the charity, simplified accounts.
David Lang, trustee, Charity Support & Training CIO, Dorchester, Dorset
Stephen Lloyd: tributes follow death of leading charity lawyer
I first met Stephen Lloyd in 1991 when I worked for the International Institute for Environment and Development. Stephen was our lawyer and acted as company secretary for the charity. With his exceptional legal and commercial skills, Stephen managed the successful sale of our loss-making trading subsidiary and the charity went on to prosper. He had a pioneering role, and the voluntary sector is richer for that. The sector will remember him as a leader and will miss him very much.
Suresh Lalvani, charities consultant, London N11
Stephen helped us to set up GoldDust Arts, an arts social enterprise. He was an amazing, humble and personable man who always found time to chat with me on his mobile phone. I'm truly shocked and the world is a lesser place without him.
Tim Balogun, director, GoldDust Arts, London N12
Stephen was a joy to know. He was warm, thoughtful, practical and kind, with a passion for fairness and justice. His help to our small group was invaluable.
John Weth, chairman, Association for Charities, London N6
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