IoF and ACEVO launch diversity charter for charity leadership

IoF and ACEVO launch diversity charter for charity leadership

11 July 2018

ACEVO and Institute of Fundraising (IoF) ask civil society leaders to commit to eight principles to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership.

In a report published today, ACEVO and IoF urge charities to prioritise increasing diversity in their workforces in order to prevent groupthink, generate more income, operate more creatively and attract the best talent. In order to create stronger, more resilient charities the two membership bodies are asking charity leaders, and leaders from wider civil society organisation that want to improve diversity and inclusion, to sign up to eight leadership principles.

As a leader I will:

1. Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.

2. Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.

3. Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.

4. Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in. 

5. Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.

6. View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.

7. Recruit for potential, not perfection.

8. Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.

The report, titled ‘Racial diversity in the charity sector: principles and recruitment practice’ is split into three sections: the business case for greater diversity, leadership principles and practical recruitment advice. It uses the inclusion of BAME groups as a lens to think about diversity in recruitment, but recognises that other groups (including those given protection under the Equality Act 2010) are also under-represented.

Vicky Browning, chief executive at ACEVO says:

There has been a lot of talk about improving racial diversity in civil society but unfortunately little has changed. Improving diversity and inclusion will not just happen, it requires a conscious, targeted investment of time and resource.

No-one is getting it all right: we all have to be better. However if leaders do get it right then they will create stronger, more resilient and creative charities, which will better serve the people we work with. As well as signing up to the principles today I am also committing to five actions within the next 12 months including providing all ACEVO staff and trustees with unconscious bias training, and working with our next chair to set minimum diversity targets.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of IoF says:

I’m delighted to be working with AVECO to encourage the sector to embed diversity into their workplace culture. Now is the time for charity leaders to make diversity a priority for their organisations. The principles we launched today will act as a guide for sector leaders and will contribute towards a much larger change in the sector.

Sufina Ahmad, chair of IoF’s expert board on diversity and inclusion, says: 

As chair of the Expert Panel I am delighted that the IoF and AVECO have taken the initiative to encourage a diversity in the charity sector. It’s important for charities to prioritise diversity from within their organisations in order to better support their beneficiaries and their workforces. I encourage civil society organisations to commit to the principles of the charter and lead the sector in this area.

Read the report 'Racial Diversity in the Charity Sector'. 



Notes to editor

  • The five actions that ACEVO is committing to today are: providing all ACEVO staff and trustees with unconscious bias training; reviewing staff and trustee recruitment procedures to ensure they are inclusive; arranging for all staff that wish to, to have mentors that can help them realise their potential; working with our next chair to set permanent and minimum diversity targets, on an annual basis; beginning in March 2019 we will publish a breakdown of the diversity of our board staff and membership alongside progress against the objectives.
  • Inclusive Boards looked at the largest 500 charities by income and found that only 5.3% of people in senior leadership teams were from an ethnic minority background, and BAME women represent only 2.25% of leaders[1]. ACEVO’s Pay and Equalities Survey 2018 found that only 3% of charity CEOs were BAME[2]. Taken on Trust, the Charity Commission’s 2017 research into board effectiveness, found that 92% of all charity trustees were white[3].   


Quotes of support

  • Tesse Akpeki, governance consultant, trainer and facilitator, says: “Diversity, inclusion and engagement at all levels of organisations - board, staff, volunteers, and strategic partners underpins high quality provision, effective decision making, risk management, innovation and creativity.  ACEVO’s diversity initiative and this guide provides a critical platform, a vital strategic steer and practical tools to make diversity happen and move the diversity debate beyond words to real action.”
  • Baillie Aaron, CEO of Spark Inside, says: “As organisational leaders, we have a moral, financial and social obligation to build more diverse teams, from the top down. Those of us who hold power through our roles can and should take practical action to empower others. Spark Inside and I are proud to strongly support this work alongside many other CEOs to ensure ethnic diversity in charity leadership and governance, and beyond.”

Press enquiries for Vicky Browning should be directed to Kristiana Wrixon  07904 727202

Press enquiries for Peter Lewis and Sufina Ahmed should be directed to Felicity Spencer-Smith 020 7840 3790

[1] Inclusive boards Charities: Inclusive Governance (2018)

[2] ACEVO Pay and Equalities Survey 2018

[3] Charity Commission Taken on trust: awareness and effectiveness of charity trustees in England and Wales (2017)