Diver­sity comes in many forms

A reflection of society

Foun­da­tion boards reflect many of the inequa­li­ties in our society. At the same time, board members note signi­fi­cant diver­sity at diffe­rent levels.

63,886 people in Switz­er­land serve on foun­da­tion boards. Accord­ing to the 2022 Foun­da­ti­ons Report, the vast majo­rity, i.e. 92%, only hold one of the existing 70,043 seats on boards. The majo­rity are men, at 68%. Men also hold multi­ple posi­ti­ons: 87% of those with five posi­ti­ons or more are men.

A majo­rity seeking more diversity

In their recent publi­ca­tion ‘Diver­sity and public chari­ta­ble foun­da­tion boards in Switz­er­land’, Laeti­tia Gill and Dr Aline Kratz-Ulmer exami­ned the level of diver­sity in the make-up of foun­da­tion boards. The percen­tage of women who took part in the survey (47%) was an over-repre­sen­ta­tion in compa­ri­son to their actual presence on boards. The study also shows that age inequa­lity exists along­side gender inequality.

36% of respondents were aged between 50 and 59, 31% were over 60 and only 11% were under 40. ‘Inte­re­stin­gly, all age groups agreed that diver­sity is a strength,’ says Laeti­tia Gill. Howe­ver, diffe­ren­ces emerge when they assess their own boards: ‘the older someone is, the more diverse they believe their board to be’. This diffe­rence also varies accord­ing to respondents’ gender. ‘Unlike men, women tend to believe their board is less diverse,’ she says 

Not an end in itself

A lack of diver­sity is also seen in educa­tio­nal levels. 79% hold an acade­mic quali­fi­ca­tion. 15% have atten­ded a specia­list higher educa­tion insti­tu­tion. A majo­rity of 73% would like diver­sity to be taken more seriously but, as Laeti­tia Gill notes, diffe­rent kinds of diver­sity aren’t always easy to iden­tify. ‘We mustn’t forget invi­si­ble diver­sity. For instance, it’s possi­ble to have a board consi­sting of five people from Europe, from the West, with one member who grew up in Africa, anot­her in Asia, and so on,’ she notes. Swiss multi­lin­gua­lism is anot­her aspect of diver­sity that isn’t always visi­ble. The group dyna­mic would help with deci­sion-making. Diver­sity on boards, when accom­pa­nied by inclu­sive leadership, faci­li­ta­tes a stimu­la­ting and inno­va­tive group dyna­mic. She also points out that having a term limit (only 2% of the foun­da­ti­ons that respon­ded have one) helps renew and refresh the board from time to time. Laeti­tia Gill repeats one important point: ‘Diver­sity is desi­ra­ble, but not just for its own sake. We consi­der it a way of making foun­da­ti­ons more efficient.’

‘Doing things better – and making them better known’

Andri Silber­schmidt, Trus­tee, Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Foundation

‘As with life in gene­ral, we have already achie­ved a great deal, but many people are not aware of what we’ve done,’ says Andri Silber­schmidt, discus­sing the scope for indu­stry, poli­ti­ci­ans and the phil­an­thro­pic sector to colla­bo­rate even more closely. ‘In my view, there’s always poten­tial for syner­gies between various initia­ti­ves so they can do things better – and make them better known – without having to constantly set up new initia­ti­ves,’ says the Natio­nal Coun­cil­lor and Vice-Presi­dent of FDP Switz­er­land. He’s fami­liar with all three sectors: after comple­ting a banking appren­ti­ce­ship at Zürcher Kanto­nal­bank, he went on to estab­lish the food and beverage company Kaisin. His role as a member of the Board of Trus­tees of the Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Foun­da­tion aligns with this over­ar­ching commitment. 

Buil­ding brid­ges to politicians

In principle, Silber­schmidt sees Switz­er­land as a very good place to be an entre­pre­neur. ‘Of course, I’m not satis­fied with all the frame­works out there,’ he says. ‘That’s why my parlia­men­tary acti­vi­ties involve trying to make various impro­ve­ments.’ In line with this, he is lobby­ing to digi­ta­lise the process of estab­li­shing a company and to make it easier to access staff and capi­tal. Silberschmidt’s poli­ti­cal endea­vours also encom­pass areas of concern to start-ups. ‘We estab­lished the parlia­men­tary group for start-ups and entre­pre­neurship, thus laying the foun­da­ti­ons for poli­ti­ci­ans to take grea­ter account of start-up needs,’ he says. Silber­schmidt builds brid­ges to this poli­ti­cal commit­ment in his role as a member of the Board of Trus­tees of the Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Foun­da­tion, since a good legal frame­work is also a concern of the foun­da­tion. ‘The Swiss Entre­pre­neurs Foun­da­tion is commit­ted to crea­ting a lively, well-func­tio­n­ing start-up ecosy­stem,’ says Silber­schmidt. The foun­da­tion supports start-ups in their scaling and inter­na­tio­na­li­sa­tion phra­ses. This work is faci­li­ta­ted by the fact that the foun­da­tion is not focu­sed prima­rily on genera­ting returns or bound by a regu­la­tory corset, as the state is: ‘A foun­da­tion can selflessly set out its objec­ti­ves and devote itself to crea­ting a strong ecosy­stem, without being a party,’ he says. He was elec­ted to its Board of Trus­tees a year ago: ‘The work I do on the Board of Trus­tees is truly meaning­ful and that alone makes it suffi­ci­ently appe­aling.’ Silber­schmidt is aware of the work invol­ved in being a trus­tee and is more than happy to call the volun­tary nature of his work into question: ‘If a lot of effort is called for, compen­sa­tion should be provided.’

‘The topic of ageing is genui­nely exciting’

Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, Presi­dent of the Board of Trus­tees, Pro Senec­tute Schweiz

‘The topic of ageing is genui­nely exci­ting, in every respect,’ says Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, discus­sing her enga­ge­ment with Pro Senec­tute. This exci­te­ment is also the reason why the former federal coun­cil­lor accep­ted when, in 2017, the search commit­tee asked her to take on the role of presi­dent of the Board of Trus­tees at Switzerland’s largest specia­list orga­ni­sa­tion for matters rela­ting to ageing. She belie­ves that inter­ge­nera­tio­nal dialo­gue is a key prere­qui­site for crea­ting a social system that will be fit to face the future. By exten­sion, the tasks that the orga­ni­sa­tion faces should be under­s­tood in the context of the needs and concerns held by the older people of tomor­row. ‘They’re exci­ting tasks and, as before, I am deligh­ted to be under­ta­king them in line with Pro Senectute’s vision.’ 

Older people have huge potential

Demo­gra­phic change and the topic of ageing affect the phil­an­thro­pic sector in various ways. For instance, lots of older people sit on boards of trus­tees. In Widmer-Schlumpf’s view, Pro Senectute’s Board has a good mix of ages and is well balan­ced in terms of gender. She belie­ves that the youn­ger genera­tion is gene­rally under-repre­sen­ted on boards of trus­tees because they are stret­ched thin with their work and their family: it’s often hard for them to find the time to accom­mo­date addi­tio­nal enga­ge­ments. In Switz­er­land, volun­tary work is under­ta­ken prima­rily by people aged between 65 and 75. As a result, older people have huge poten­tial to offer society. ‘We believe that their work will be in grea­ter demand in the future, not least due to the shor­tage of expert workers.’ Even if this work is unpaid, it is crucial for our society,’ says Widmer-Schlumpf, mentio­ning in parti­cu­lar caring for older rela­ti­ves, enga­ge­ment with cultu­ral and social projects and looking after grand­child­ren as examp­les of this. To tap into this poten­tial, she recom­mends inve­sting in volun­teer networks and colla­bo­ra­tion, as well as opening a dialo­gue about what volun­tee­ring means, parti­cu­larly in terms of compen­sa­tion. ‘Volun­tary work is not free,’ she says. She will conti­nue to show her dedi­ca­tion to the needs of the older popu­la­tion as the presi­dent of the Board of Trus­tees at Pro Senec­tute Schweiz. ‘My work for Pro Senec­tute is exci­ting, inspi­ring and meaning­ful,’ she says, summa­ri­sing the appeal of this role.

‘Supporting the very weakest’

Martin Candi­nas, Trus­tee, ARGO Stiftung

‘Supporting people with disa­bi­li­ties was always of concern to me, even at the start of my career as a canto­nal coun­cil­lor,’ says Martin Candi­nas, vice-presi­dent of the Natio­nal Coun­cil. Now, he thinks that his dedi­ca­tion back then was why he was asked to join the Board of Trus­tees 10 years ago. At the time, he was a member of the canto­nal commit­tee at Pro Infir­mis Grau­bün­den. ARGO’s work revol­ves around support for people with disa­bi­li­ties in Grau­bün­den, encou­ra­ging their social and profes­sio­nal inte­gra­tion through shel­te­red housing, work­places and daytime acti­vi­ties. In addi­tion, the foun­da­tion offers trai­ning and work to put its profes­sio­nal and social inte­gra­tion measu­res into practice.

Hybrid of the state and the market

‘The foun­da­tion brid­ges a size­able gap in the system,’ says Candi­nas. He belie­ves that a foun­da­tion is the perfect form and does the job better than the state. The foundation’s decen­tra­li­sed struc­ture, with sites in Chur, Ilanz, Davos, Tiefen­ca­stel and Surava, enab­les it to be close to its opera­ti­ons and those affec­ted. ‘We’re fami­liar with the needs of society and compa­nies alike,’ he says. As its opera­ti­ons cannot earn money, he does not think the private sector could take on the task either. Candi­nas sees the foun­da­tion as a hybrid of the state and the market. ARGO colla­bo­ra­tes with indu­stry, but it also performs tasks on behalf of the state and works with disa­bi­lity insurance offices. In line with Switzerland’s federal approach, the aim is for tasks to be under­ta­ken at the lowest possi­ble level. ‘This is why the state would be well advi­sed to care about foun­da­ti­ons’ says Candi­nas, a member of the centrist Mitte party. ‘It’s simply not the case that all the acti­vi­ties perfor­med or suppor­ted by foun­da­ti­ons would fall to the state.’ The foun­da­tion also faces chal­len­ges when it comes to fulfil­ling its role: it needs to deve­lop and adapt to be able to meet the needs of busi­nes­ses and society. ARGO has adap­ted the orga­ni­sa­tio­nal struc­ture of its four work­shops, inve­sted in digi­ta­li­sa­tion and grapp­led with the chal­lenge of auto­ma­tion in order to live up to its full poten­tial. In turn, this enab­les it to go beyond its speci­fic objec­tive and bene­fit society as a whole. ‘ARGO plays a key role in cohe­sion within society and between the regi­ons in Grau­bün­den,’ says Candi­nas. This purpose is his moti­va­tion for invol­ve­ment with its Board of Trus­tees. As he puts it: ‘ARGO is commit­ted to supporting the very weakest in Switz­er­land. What could be better than that?’

‘Being a trus­tee is a privilege’

Angela Muel­ler, Trus­tee, Corymbo

Angela Muel­ler became aware of the vacant posi­tion at the umbrella foun­da­tion Corymbo via her profes­sio­nal network. She had spent most of her time working in the NGO sector since finis­hing univer­sity, so this role piqued her inte­rest right away. ‘It appealed to me from the start: Corymbo’s values align with my perso­nal and profes­sio­nal values,’ she says. Muel­ler has been a member of the Board of Trus­tees at Corymbo since Janu­ary 2021. She enjoys the contact with donors, but she also finds the breadth of topics cove­red by this orga­ni­sa­tion, as an umbrella foun­da­tion, to be meaning­ful. Corymbo’s work rela­tes to culture, envi­ron­men­tal issues and social affairs; for example, supporting projects that promote sustainable, social agri­cul­ture within Switz­er­land and abroad. ‘These orga­ni­sa­ti­ons often need some initial finan­cing in the early days: it is only in the medium term that they can gene­rate returns and conti­nue to operate without finan­cial support,’ she says. ‘The same goes for projects to educate young people in Kenya; trai­ning them to be solar specia­lists, for instance, so they can secure their live­li­hood.’ Thus, she sees it as a privi­lege to support these inno­va­tive projects on the Board of Trustees.

The chance to do good

Corymbo cele­bra­tes its 20th anni­ver­s­ary this year. It’s no coin­ci­dence that Muel­ler is invol­ved in an umbrella foun­da­tion – she belie­ves this is the form of the future for foun­da­ti­ons: ‘All too often, a foun­da­ti­on’s purpose is too narrow. The money simply sits in the bank,’ she says. The purpose of a foun­da­tion, in her eyes, is to get these funds to the right target group. Instead of setting up a foun­da­tion, an umbrella foun­da­tion is often the better solu­tion, she belie­ves. In Muel­ler’s view, the board of trus­tees needs to have a sense of what’s going on in the phil­an­thro­pic sector and assess which projects are future-proof. A diverse a board as possi­ble also helps, so know­ledge is shared. That’s because a foun­da­ti­on’s poten­tial lies in its inno­va­tive nature, she thinks. ‘Private foun­da­ti­ons often have the oppor­tu­nity to play a pionee­ring role and respond proac­tively to future chal­len­ges,’ she says. They need to libe­rate them­sel­ves from tradi­tio­nal struc­tures and ways of thin­king and be open to new deve­lo­p­ments, in every field. That’s how change takes place.’ Given the current pessi­mi­stic mood around the world, in parti­cu­lar, Muel­ler is fasci­na­ted by the amount of inno­va­tion that small NGOs can achieve, even with limi­ted resour­ces. ‘An incredi­ble number of people are trying very hard to combat the chal­len­ges curr­ently facing us,’ she says. ‘That fasci­na­tes and inspi­res me.’

‘It’s our most important resource’

Heinz Karrer, presi­dent of the Board of Trus­tees, UniBE Foundation

‘Educa­tion is the foun­da­tion of peace and demo­cracy,’ says Heinz Karrer, ‘and Switzerland’s most important resource.’ Without educa­tion, Switz­er­land would not be home to well-educa­ted experts, adds the former CEO of Axpo and presi­dent of econo­mie­su­isse. It’s hardly surpri­sing that Karrer accep­ted the role of presi­dent of the Board of Trus­tees of the UniBE Foun­da­tion, estab­lished in 2021, when the Rector of the Univer­sity of Bern, Chri­stian Leumann, and former Vice-Rector for Rese­arch, Daniel Candi­nas, offe­red him the post.

Boosting acade­mic impact

The UniBE Foun­da­tion is a chari­ta­ble foun­da­tion of the Univer­sity of Bern and aims to support rese­arch, teaching and educa­tion at the univer­sity. Karrer has a clear goal: ‘We want to help the Univer­sity of Bern to put its stra­tegy into prac­tice so it can enjoy grea­ter acade­mic visi­bi­lity and impact.’ The aim is for the univer­sity to retain its place among the top 120 univer­si­ties world­wide. In certain indi­vi­dual disci­pli­nes, it’s even in the top 10. In order for the foun­da­tion to work effec­tively, Karrer thinks that direct contact with rese­ar­chers is excep­tio­nally helpful – and inspi­res the members of its Board of Trus­tees. The more concrete and attrac­tive the foundation’s projects, the more inte­re­sting, grati­fy­ing and simp­ler the work beco­mes for its trus­tees, says Karrer. He belie­ves that natio­nal and inter­na­tio­nal colla­bo­ra­ti­ons are taking on incre­a­sing import­ance. ‘Acade­mic dialo­gue knows no canto­nal or natio­nal bounda­ries,’ he says. ‘Colla­bo­ra­tion between univer­si­ties and orga­ni­sa­ti­ons of various kinds acce­le­ra­tes inno­va­tion.’ He sees a posi­tive deve­lo­p­ment in this respect, with the inten­sity of colla­bo­ra­tion having chan­ged consi­der­ably. The chal­len­ges lie in the need for resour­ces, the legal frame­work, admi­ni­stra­tion and coor­di­na­tion. Karrer is not worried by the fact that the UniBE Foun­da­tion is active in a univer­sity land­s­cape that’s already home to success­ful foun­da­ti­ons. On the contrary – their purpose brings them toge­ther: ‘Every addi­tio­nal success­ful foun­da­tion helps to streng­t­hen Switz­er­land as a rese­arch hub and educa­tio­nal centre.’

‘We should tackle collec­tive problems collectively.’

Shruti Patel, trus­tee at Biovision

‘Ever­yone who works in deve­lo­p­ment coope­ra­tion has the simi­lar objec­ti­ves and will probably be facing the same core chal­len­ges,’ says Shruti Patel. ‘We should make more of an effort to discuss these chal­len­ges and tackle them collec­tively.’ This is why she would welcome inter­ac­tions with members of other boards of trus­tees as well. Shruti Patel is trus­tee at Biovi­son. She finds the discus­sions with the members of the Biovi­sion Board of Trus­tees very infor­ma­tive. ‘We all have very diffe­rent back­grounds, so board discus­sions are always rich.’ 

The topic of diversity

At the moment, Shruti Patel works as a senior lectu­rer at NADEL, the Center for Deve­lo­p­ment and Coope­ra­tion at ETH Zurich. The invi­ta­tion to join the board of trus­tees took her by surprise, although she is aware that diver­sity is a very topi­cal issue and that, as a woman with roots in Africa, her perspec­ti­ves are value­able. She agreed because she is fami­liar with the work, spirit and ambi­tion of the people at Biovi­sion. She worked for the aid orga­ni­sa­tion herself for five years. Now, as of June 2021, she is a member of its Board of Trus­tees. She still sees poten­tial in inter­ac­tion between her two areas of work: rese­arch and NGOs. She has noti­ced that rese­ar­chers usually turn to prac­ti­cal work in order to gather data. ‘What we need is exactly the oppo­site approach: how can we bring prac­ti­cal work into rese­arch?’ she says. How could this change the way we think about science? She empha­si­ses: ‘This inter­ac­tion has to be conti­nual. That’s very important!’ She atta­ches great import­ance to construc­ting an ecosy­stem that encom­pas­ses chari­ta­ble causes, and regards the condi­ti­ons in Switz­er­land as enti­rely posi­tive. A NADEL study she led last year found that 36 percent of Swiss resi­dents donate to orga­ni­sa­ti­ons dedi­ca­ted to fight­ing poverty world­wide. In other high-income coun­tries the figure is 20 percent. ‘The Swiss popu­la­tion is generous and tends to engage actively in chari­ta­ble causes,’ notes Shruti Patel.

‘It’s a perso­nal commitment’

Maria Torta­jada, ciné­ma­t­hè­que suisse trustee

Photo: Félix Imhof © UNIL

In her role as a trus­tee, Maria Torta­jada is able to brea­the life into her passion while also supporting her rese­arch – and using her exper­tise to drive the foun­da­tion forward. She is a profes­sor of history and aesthe­tics of cinema at the Univer­sity of Lausanne and a trus­tee of ciné­ma­t­hè­que suisse. ‘It’s a perso­nal commit­ment,’ she says, adding that, ‘of course, it’s obvious that it makes sense for both parties.’ It was self-evident that she would take up the oppor­tu­nity when it was sugge­sted in 2011 that she become a trus­tee. She had previously worked with the archive and colla­bo­ra­ted with it to orga­nise events, and also draws on the archive’s holdings in her rese­arch, too. Conver­sely, archi­vists from ciné­ma­t­hè­que suisse regu­larly attend cour­ses at the univer­sity. In other words, it is a success­ful pairing of two insti­tu­ti­ons, albeit ones with diver­gent mandates.

Global signi­fi­cance

Unlike the university’s library, the archive fulfils three vital func­tions: Preser­ving, resto­ring, making cinema known/showing films. As far as conser­va­tion is concer­ned: First off, it preser­ves films, regard­less of the medium they are stored on. Secondly, it ensu­res that equip­ment and tech­no­logy are conser­ved. Employees both need to be able to use old machi­nes and know their way around the latest tech­no­logy. Finally, the archive also records the history of cinema and Swiss film-making. Even though it’s a private insti­tu­tion, it has muni­ci­pal, canto­nal and natio­nal signi­fi­cance. ‘It’s a hugely important insti­tu­tion,’ says Maria Torta­jada of ciné­ma­t­hè­que suisse. Not many people know that it’s the tenth most important film archive in the world. The archive has under­gone major deve­lo­p­ments over the last 20 years, and while the number of employees has rocke­ted, it doesn’t have enough resour­ces to meet demand. ‘Facing up to these chal­len­ges is also part of my job as a trus­tee,’ says Maria Torta­jada. Despite these hurd­les, the insti­tu­tion still has an incredi­ble inter­na­tio­nal network, puts on impres­sive events and is very active in global deba­tes. This is what fasci­na­tes Maria Torta­jada about her invol­ve­ment: ‘It’s wonder­ful, I’m so inspi­red by it.’

‘Honest, hono­ura­ble work’

Laura Amstutz, Trus­tee, Markant-Stiftung

‘The appli­ca­ti­ons give you a good insight into cultu­ral and educa­tio­nal tends. But they also high­light the chal­len­ges facing our society,’ says Laura Amstutz, discus­sing what appeals to her about her work as a member of the Board of Trus­tees at Markant-Stif­tung. This chari­ta­ble foun­da­tion has a broad base, supporting cultu­ral, chari­ta­ble projects and those rela­ting to young people. These topics appealed to her, but Amstutz was also attrac­ted by its strai­ght­for­ward, direct approach, which enab­les her to see the impact of her work: ‘And it’s honest, hono­ura­ble work.’ Amstutz fulfils a dual role at the foun­da­tion, serving both as an actuary and a trus­tee. Her profile made her a perfect fit for the role. She became aware of it via her perso­nal network and when she met the other members of the Board of Trus­tees, it was clear that there was a real chemi­s­try among all invol­ved. She belie­ves there is scope to attract youn­ger people as trus­tees in this respect. ‘I would like to see foun­da­ti­ons adver­ti­sing these posts on (social) plat­forms,’ she says. She also menti­ons a second way that youn­ger people could be attrac­ted to these roles: ‘Compen­sa­tion is certainly important in order to free up the necessary time.’

Elec­ted by the canto­nal council

Amstutz’s second trus­tee role came about in a very diffe­rent way: she is a member of Luzer­ner Jugend­stif­tung, a role elec­ted by the canto­nal coun­cil. She came into contact with the canton’s youth repre­sen­ta­tive via various projects and she was put forward for the Jugendstiftung’s Board of Trus­tees. The unique thing about this commit­tee is that its members repre­sent other orga­ni­sa­ti­ons: ‘Its bene­fit defi­ni­tely lies in commu­ni­ca­tion. The orga­ni­sa­ti­ons’ repre­sen­ta­ti­ves serve as a connec­tion to various enti­ties, inclu­ding various youth orga­ni­sa­ti­ons.’ At the same time, Amstutz thinks that the board’s size runs the risk of iner­tia. That said, the foun­da­tion uses its orga­ni­sa­tio­nal struc­ture to coun­ter­act this: ‘Smal­ler sub-groups within the Board of Trus­tees take on respon­si­bi­lity for key topics,’ she says. 

‘Crea­ting added value for society’

David Suhr, Trus­tee, Qhubeka Foundation

It all star­ted with donors keen to support the Qhubeka Foun­da­tion in South Africa. ‘This gave rise to the notion of setting up a foun­da­tion in Switz­er­land to collect dona­ti­ons,’ explains David Suhr. He has been part of the project from the start. The simple but valu­able approach of using bikes to faci­li­tate access to educa­tion, health­care and the envi­ron­ment won him over. Qhubeka has various program­mes, but bikes are always the star­ting point for their support. The bikes enable child­ren to access educa­tion and sport, while young adults and unem­ployed people can ‘earn’ bikes in various ways, such as through manual labour. Qhubeka trains mecha­nics on site and offers safety work­shops to ensure that the programme is sustainable. Suhr’s invol­ve­ment in this area is closely linked to his values. He has been shaped both by his Chri­stian faith and his parents, who were deve­lo­p­ment coope­ra­tion experts and mana­gers: ‘This moti­va­tes me to play my part in making our world a fairer place.’ 

Major respon­si­bi­lity

As a member of the Board of Trus­tees at Switzerland’s Qhubeka Foun­da­tion, Suhr wants to create added value for society in the long term. He belie­ves that non-profit orga­ni­sa­ti­ons have a parti­cu­lar respon­si­bi­lity towards the state and its citi­zens. As foun­da­ti­ons are tax-exempt, they have funds that would other­wise be avail­able to the demo­cra­tic system. ‘In my view, a foundation’s role is to work for its decla­red purpose and try out new things in these areas, while simul­ta­ne­ously reflec­ting the view­points of the rele­vant inte­rest groups by working with them from the very begin­ning.’ To incre­ase the number of young people serving as trus­tees, he belie­ves that vacant posts should be adver­ti­sed and commu­ni­ca­ted via chan­nels speci­fi­cally chosen to appeal to young people. In addi­tion, serving trus­tees must be willing to grant their youn­ger colleagues the same rights and obli­ga­ti­ons. ‘It sounds simple, but in my view it’s not yet some­thing that people are doing in prac­tice,’ he says. Offe­ring trai­ning to support young people to become trus­tees would help, follo­wing the approach taken, for instance, by the Board for Good with its scholarships.

‘Equal pay must become a reality as soon as possible’

Lisa Mazzone, board member of the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation

EQUAL-SALARY offers compa­nies a profes­sio­nal approach to help them close the wage gap through a certi­fi­ca­tion system. This major bridge built by the Foun­da­tion makes policy requi­re­ments a reality for compa­nies, allo­wing them to high­light their commit­ment. This issue persua­ded Lisa Mazzone to get invol­ved as a board member of the foun­da­tion. ‘Equal pay is a basic human right,’ says the member of the Swiss Coun­cil of States for Geneva (Green Party), adding: ‘Unfor­tu­n­a­tely, it still isn’t a reality.’ She belie­ves it’s crucial to work towards equal oppor­tu­nities in the work­place. Ending discri­mi­na­tion tangi­bly impro­ves the lives of women. ‘There’s still a lot to be done in this area,’ she says. That’s why she got invol­ved in the foun­da­tion as a board member. ‘Equal pay must become a reality as soon as possi­ble,’ says Lisa Mazzone of her commit­ment. ‘And I want to help make that happen.’

The role of politics

Accord­ing to Lisa Mazzone, the poli­ti­cal world must also play a part in helping the Foun­da­tion have a bigger impact. Poli­ti­ci­ans must be more deman­ding and ambi­tious to close the wage gap, she says. The member of the Coun­cil of States was elec­ted to the board due to her role as a poli­ti­cal repre­sen­ta­tive. She has been in the posi­tion for one year and notes the energy driving the Foun­da­tion. ‘The Foun­da­tion is very inno­va­tive,’ says Lisa Mazzone. EQUAL-SALARY also provi­des tools to promote equal oppor­tu­nities. A strict salary scale doesn’t actually offer protec­tion from wage gaps in the medium term. ‘It’s about taking a close look at recruit­ment, trai­ning and promo­tion. Policy should take inspi­ra­tion from this approach, which allows us to tackle the uncon­scious bias at the root of discrimination.’

‘For the perfect forward energy’

Fran­ziska Gsell, Trus­tee, Laureus Foundation

‘A broad range of expe­ri­ence paired with entre­pre­neu­rial perspec­tive from various areas can create the perfect amount of forward energy,’ says Fran­ziska Gsell, naming the advan­ta­ges from which the Laureus Foundation’s Board of Trus­tees bene­fits. The CMO of IWC Schaff­hau­sen sits on the Board along with repre­sen­ta­ti­ves from various sports and sectors of indu­stry. The company has been a global part­ner of the foun­da­tion since 2005, which is how Gsell heard about it. She became a trus­tee a year ago. The various trus­tees come from diffe­rent back­grounds, which poses chal­len­ges from time to time. But she says: ‘Chal­len­ges are the spice of life – and the spice of bene­fi­cial colla­bo­ra­tion. Just as in sport, openness, respect, tole­rance, fore­sight and fair­ness are crucial prerequisites.’

Entre­pre­neu­rial thinking

Gsell belie­ves that a trans­pa­rent commu­ni­ca­tion of how funds are distri­buted and how the foun­da­tion is deve­lo­ping is parti­cu­larly crucial for a foundation’s success. A further aspect is ensu­ring that foun­da­ti­ons think like entre­pre­neurs: ‘If they want to have a long-term impact, foun­da­ti­ons need to train their employees, get experts invol­ved and invest in their infra­st­ruc­ture and marke­ting.’ But she also thinks that foun­da­ti­ons have certain advan­ta­ges over compa­nies: ‘They’re gene­rally more agile and flexi­ble and less poli­ti­cal. That’s the only way they can meet their purpose, one that goes far beyond profit,’ she says. ‘If every company had a social purpose, the corpo­rate sector could work wonders.’ IWC is begin­ning to incor­po­rate this approach, she says. The company has recently defi­ned its ‘purpose’: engi­nee­ring beyond time. IWC wants to use this purpose to create a better future for the genera­ti­ons to come. This commit­ment to child­ren was also key for Gsell when she deci­ded to take up her role as a trus­tee: ‘I’m deligh­ted to do my bit to make the world a bit better for our children.’

‘An outstan­ding socio-poli­ti­cal tool’

Marco Chiesa, Trus­tee, Pro Infantia

The reali­sa­tion that there was a need for a solid legal struc­ture with skil­led, moti­va­ted members to support child­ren, fami­lies and employees led Marco Chiesa to estab­lish Pro Infan­tia with four fellow campai­gners. ‘Foun­da­ti­ons are an outstan­ding socio-poli­ti­cal tool,’ he says. He’s always found moti­va­ted, compe­tent people in every foun­da­tion he’s come across. ‘They do their bit for our society because they believe in their mission – without asking for anything in return.’ Perso­nally, he gets invol­ved because it’s his chance to make a valu­able contri­bu­tion to some­thing important, some­thing good. ‘The “salary” I get for this work is the children’s smiles, our volun­te­ers’ passion and parent satis­fac­tion,’ he says. There is room for impro­ve­ment in terms of forging connec­tions between poli­ti­ci­ans and the phil­an­thro­pic sector, in his view, which, in turn, could help like-minded people make projects such as Pro Infan­tia a reality.

A clear divi­sion of responsibilities

Pro Infan­tia was foun­ded in 2017 with the aim of play­ing a role in the educa­tion of pre-school child­ren in Ticino. This issue is important to the SVP presi­dent. ‘Educa­tion is the respon­si­bi­lity of a child’s parents. As mothers and fathers, we are respon­si­ble for our children’s deve­lo­p­ment,’ he says. ‘This task cannot be dele­ga­ted to the state or private insti­tu­ti­ons.’ Chiesa reco­gni­ses that in certain situa­tions, insti­tu­ti­ons such as crèches can contri­bute to helping people strike a balance between their job and their family. Ticino is a small language region with about 50 day crèches and he belie­ves that a public/private part­nership, with a clear divi­sion of respon­si­bi­li­ties, is of funda­men­tal signi­fi­cance. The state is respon­si­ble for regu­la­tion and quality control. ‘The admi­ni­stra­tion of the crèches is in the hands of a private initia­tive, with fees graded accord­ing to income,’ he empha­ses, explai­ning the social policy in canton Ticino. ‘There’s no shor­tage of chal­len­ges facing us, but we’re heading in the right direction.’

You’ve all answe­red our call on LinkedIn to demon­strate your commit­ment: we’re so grate­ful. The phil­an­thro­pic sector is buzzing with energy. This diverse space is kept alive by indi­vi­du­als’ perso­nal commit­ment and passion. We want to spend the next few months working with you, dear readers, to find ideas and formats that will enable us to drive forward the sector in a parti­ci­pa­tory, colla­bo­ra­tive way.

‘As a trus­tee, I can help ensure that Swiss pension funds and private persons invest in truly sustainable compa­nies and take the inte­rests of future genera­ti­ons into account today.’

Corne­lia Diethelm

Trus­tee, Ethos Foundation

‘I’m invol­ved with Fonda­tion Idée­Sport because its inno­va­tive program­mes are deve­lo­ped to adapt to our chan­ging society and make Switz­er­land a better and more welco­m­ing place.’

Gior­gio Panzera

Trus­tee, Fonda­tion IdéeSport

By inve­sting a consi­derable portion of their assets into a legally inde­pen­dent foun­da­tion, my parents crea­ted a trea­sure with unbe­liev­a­ble poten­tial that I would like to deve­lop and preserve.’

Oliver Degen

Trus­tee Werner und Helga Degen Stiftung

‘I’m commit­ted to our foun­da­tion because we can improve people’s lives in a sustainable way.’ Marc-André Pradervand

Marc-André Prader­vand

Presi­dent, Board of Trus­tees, Stif­tung Baustei

‘The posi­tive impact that the therapy has on the child­ren is so evident: that’s why I’m more than happy to donate my time and crea­ti­vity to the foun­da­tion. I can see the advan­ces being made via the colla­bo­ra­tion with hospi­tals and thera­pists, which means my work as a trus­tee and with our opera­tio­nal team really puts a smile on my face!’

Daniel Frutig

Vice-presi­dent, Board of Trus­tees, Fonda­tion Art-Therapie

‘With my combi­na­tion of know­ledge and expe­ri­ence, and my desire to actively shape the future, I want to do my bit in ensu­ring that the city of Zurich’s pension fund can conti­nue to perform the task it’s assu­med for its members.’

Mela­nie Gajowski

Presi­dent, Board of Trus­tees Stif­tung Pensi­ons­kasse Stadt Zürich

‘The common good is often pushed aside in favour of self-inte­rest, parti­cu­larly given the current econo­mic and poli­ti­cal chal­len­ges. So it’s even more important to actively parti­ci­pate (as a trus­tee) in orga­ni­sa­ti­ons that work to uphold people’s rights, deve­lop their skills and support them with a focus on inclu­sion, as the HUMANITAS Foun­da­tion does.’

Corne­lia Trachsler-Ariol

Trus­tees, HUMANITAS Foun­da­tion – jobs, housing and acti­vi­ties for people with disabilities.

‘Child­ren, educa­tion, oppor­tu­nities – all things close to my heart. The Pesta­lozzi School Camps Foun­da­tion takes margi­na­li­sed child­ren and puts them at the heart of what it does. These child­ren spend a week living with and lear­ning from the best in the fields of music, dance and science. The fact that the foun­der and mana­ging direc­tor are actively invol­ved in a rigo­rous and entre­pre­neu­rial manner, with heart and soul, is very special indeed. I am so grate­ful to have been able to support the foun­da­tion with advice and assi­stance from the start.’

Fran­ziska Juch

Trus­tee, Pesta­lozzi School Camps Foundation

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