Wilding's appointment as NCVO chief comes under fire

Most agree he will make a good chief executive, but some in sector wonder why a candidate representative of a more diverse community was not selected

Karl Wilding
Karl Wilding

People involved in the appointment of Karl Wilding as the next chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations have defended the process after some sector figures expressed disappointment that a white male had been selected for the job.

The umbrella body announced on Thursday that Wilding, who has been at the NCVO since 1998, had been appointed to succeed Sir Stuart Etherington, who is stepping down after 25 years in the role.

The response on Twitter to Wilding’s appointment was overwhelmingly positive, but some have since said they were disappointed that the NCVO did not take the opportunity to select a more diverse candidate.

Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the charity publishing and training body the Directory of Social Change, said on Twitter that although she thought very highly of Wilding she did not think the choice of a white man was a good move for the NCVO.

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and communications at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, replied in a personal capacity to Allcock Tyler’s tweet by saying nobody doubted Wilding’s abilities but charities must question what happens in the sector.

He said the brief for the appointment process was change and he believed appointments such as this would mean that other "outsiders" would be put off from applying for future roles.

Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive of the social care charity Turning Point, said:

Leon Ward, programme manager at First Give, which runs programmes in secondary schools to help young people volunteer in their communities, tweeted in a personal capacity that he had hoped for more "radical thinking" in the appointment process.

He said he was disappointed that someone who had been at the NCVO since 1998 had been appointed to take over from somebody who had done the job for 25 years.

The fundraising consultant and diversity campaigner Mandy Johnson posted a blog in which she questioned the NCVO’s appointment of "another white man" to the job.

She said that although she believed Wilding would make an excellent chief executive, "he lacks some of the characteristics some of us are so desperate to see represented in his sort of job".

She wondered in the blog if white males should have stepped aside from applying for the role.

"But the chances are that if Karl hadn’t put himself forward, another white man probably would…and he may have been less qualified.

"Perhaps an organisation that has twenty-five years’ experience of employing a white, male CEO may need just one more, with an understanding of diversity and inclusion, in order for it to drive the change required to become a truly diverse and inclusive organisation.

"I hope that Karl will be that man – and I believe he might be. But in order to truly deliver on this goal, perhaps he should be willing to move on when he’s delivered the changes that will make it possible for a different type of leader to take the reins?"

The communications consultant Pete Moorey, a former director of advocacy and public affairs at the consumer charity Which? who previously worked alongside Wilding at the NCVO, said in a blog post that he had not thought a white, male candidate would be chosen.

"Like some, I expected an outsider to be selected, who would set NCVO on a radically different path," he wrote.

But he said he had learned a lot from Wilding when he was at the NCVO and the umbrella body had chosen someone with "a big brain", who thought hard about the sector and was well respected by members.

Green Park, the agency that was commissioned by the NCVO to lead the recruitment process, said it had worked hard to ensure a diverse range of candidates were considered.

Kai Adams, partner, charities and social enterprise, at Green Park, who worked on the process, said on Twitter that of the more than 200 applicants for the role, half of those on the shortlist were female and 38 per cent were BAME. 

He also pointed out that he worked on the process alongside Cordelia Osewa-Ediae, a senior consultant at Green Park and a BAME woman.

Sue Cordingley, director of planning and resources at the NCVO, said on Twitter that she had been closely involved in the recruitment process and Wilding had a "much higher bar to prove himself than any other candidate". She said the NCVO board "acted with integrity to appoint the best person for the job".

Tiger de Souza, director of volunteering, participation and inclusion at the National Trust, who was part of the appointment process, tweeted:

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