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Festival of Trusteeship 17 invaluable tips

The Festival of Trusteeship 2022 was a bonanza of trustee learning. So how do we make sure it we hang on to what we heard?

Below are 16 action points, garnered from the wealth of intelligence we heard at the Festival of Trusteeship and they're all things that can be swiftly incorporated into your trustee practice.

Enshrining and empowering diverse lived experience on boards

Start the conversation with your fellow trustees about what class is currently represented in your boardroom; who is missing? Ask yourself why.

Location, location, location. Don’t always have your meetings in a middle class space, such as donated corporate office space. Not everyone is at home there.

Claim your expenses, and encourage others to do so too. Don’t make a virtue out of not claiming them. For some trustees, particularly those on lower incomes, being able to claim them is essential.

When a working class person tells you a thing is classist, believe them. Don’t dismiss their experience because it doesn’t tally with yours.

Consider mentoring someone. Mentoring is as much a legacy as a large financial donation to a board. As Sunday Blake, one of our speakers, so eloquently put it: if you’ve had to shuffle through new snow to make a pathway, leave a clear path for others.

Making sure every voice gets heard

Read your charity’s governing documents (goals, direction, limitations, accountability, frameworks etc) Knowing them well helps trustees make confident decisions.

Consider having a trustee code of conduct. This is a great way to manage conflict before it becomes an issue.

Advocate for a 15 min feedback session at the end of your board meetings. Ask everyone to share what went well for them and their Even Better Ifs. A board experience audit also works well.

If you’re meeting online; suggest that participants can use the chat as an alternative means for quieter trustees to share their opinions.

Recruiting diversely

‘Fit’ is a problem in terms of unconscious bias. If you’re considering whether a prospective trustee will 'fit in' what are you saying about inclusion and difference? Ask the question ‘Will they help us grow further?’ instead.

When you’re recruiting from minoritised and overlooked communities be mindful of the weight of expectation placed upon them and think of how to mitigate that.

Being an awesome chair

Start meetings by asking how people are feeling. Make sure everyone is psychologically present.

Allow time for challenge and dialogue. Don’t start a meeting by saying: ‘We only have 90 mins so let’s get through this swiftly.’ It really kills conversation.

Use online breakout rooms to facilitate smaller group discussions. Give trustees 5-10 minutes to brainstorm then come back to share ideas.

Encourage quieter board members by reaching out ahead of the meeting and ask for their help talking to a specific agenda point.

Being the chair is not about hearing your own voice. Don’t be afraid to hold the silence and allow others to break it.

Check in with your fellow trustees. Make time for one on one meetings, find out what their drivers are on a human level. (This came up time and time again during the festival - it's so important!)

For bags more learning, action points, electrifying debate and all the great talking points from the Festival of Trusteeship 2022, you can buy the full box set of session recordings here.


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