Finding the framework for change
CEO Vikki Wilkinson details how step-by-step recruitment process diversified Bexley VSC board
Both the new trustees are part of the five year strategic plan working committee. They are bringing a new energy.
Momentum for change
‘It was the Black Lives Matter movement in June 2020 that brought the issue of diversity to the fore for us.
I’d been CEO of Bexley Voluntary Service Council for five years. We’d always known that we needed to diversify. The BLM movement made conversations both easier and harder but it did mean that it had become a real live issue. There was momentum, so we took the decision not to postpone the issue any longer and at the next board meeting we started a meaningful discussion about our challenges.
We’d reached a point where several trustees had completed their term of office so it was a good point from which to start thinking about diversifying. We needed more diversity on the board in terms of both age and ethnicity.
A six-week schedule
The Transform Programme was perfect for our board. It was very practical: there was a clear framework and it had momentum and structure through the six-week schedule. It was really useful to have a structure to make it part of the working day. The deadlines gave it a real time factor that meant we had to complete the recruiting tasks.
I went on the programme with my current chair who had recently come into the role. We both found it completely invaluable. We were able to structure our thoughts and it gave us direction.
One of the things we particularly valued was the supportive non-judgmental environment. We could say things like, “I’m worried about writing an ad for recruiting for a person of colour,” and get guidance. It was reassuring to hear experiences of other charities – and hear great ideas we could build on – or use ourselves!
Four new trustees
The camaraderie was particularly important too. The online delivery worked well because we had charities on our cohort from all over the UK – even from Scotland – so we were able to get a great breadth of opinion and experience.
Our biggest triumph since going through the Transform programme is that we now have four new trustees from different backgrounds and sectors. Previously all the board members were from the voluntary sector. Additionally, among the new trustees we have two who are Bexley residents and one who is a person of colour.
We also have a robust procedure now too. We have a process for application, a formal interview and time for candidates to observe the board.
We’re just at the beginning of the process of diversifying our board. We know we’re not there but we’re definitely on the way.’