It’s the sum of all parts that counts

Diver­sity is like the colours of the rain­bow. Seven diffe­rent colours come toge­ther to form one fasci­na­ting unit – the perfect image for ideal colla­bo­ra­tion and mutual enrich­ment. But a rain­bow in all its glory can only come about under the right physi­cal condi­ti­ons. The same is true of putting toge­ther a board of trus­tees. All the key skill sets and causes need to be repre­sen­ted for it to func­tion at its best.

Wide diver­sity
Non-profit orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, chari­ties and asso­cia­ti­ons with diverse stra­te­gic commit­tees bene­fit from the diffe­rent perso­nal, specia­list and profes­sio­nal skills and expe­ri­ence of the indi­vi­dual members. A 65-year-old will approach a question differ­ently to a 23-year-old. Diffe­rent perspec­ti­ves and skills bene­fit the whole commit­tee, espe­cially when it comes to long-term stra­te­gies. 

If all of the members of a stra­te­gic commit­tee are aware of their role and the over­ar­ching goals, then diver­sity of every kind is enri­ching and produc­tive. A wide range of diffe­rent know­ledge and exper­tise gene­rally means problems are iden­ti­fied more quickly and tack­led more effec­tively through appro­priate action. 

A crisis never announ­ces itself in advance. The COVID-19 pande­mic has demon­stra­ted that commit­tees need to be able to act quickly and effec­tively, and should thus be chosen with care. They require mutual trust, inte­grity, agility and expe­ri­ence. In other words, diver­sity!

The time factor

Being a member of a stra­te­gic commit­tee means taking respon­si­bi­lity for your role and your area of exper­tise. Joining a board of trus­tees is a time invest­ment. A consci­en­tious member will prepare their topics for their colleagues on the board in a way ever­yone can under­stand. As Albert Einstein once said, ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t under­stand it well enough.’ A good philo­so­phy. Clear explana­ti­ons put all the members of a commit­tee in a posi­tion to make infor­med deci­si­ons – and there­fore in a posi­tion to act – in the face of current and future chal­len­ges. 

Of course, there are a variety of diffe­rent and inter­wo­ven elements requi­red. Rain­bow commit­tees with a diverse range of know­ledge and expe­ri­ence produce more crea­tive, skil­led, inspi­ring, inno­va­tive solu­ti­ons.

What are all the elements that need to be consi­de­red?

Diver­sity factors:

  • Indu­stry and specia­list know­ledge (e.g. finance, digi­ta­li­sa­tion, gene­ral manage­ment, law, project manage­ment, commu­ni­ca­ti­ons, etc.)
  • Roles and func­tions
  • Educa­tion and trai­ning
  • Gender, age, geogra­phic, ethnic and reli­gious back­ground and networks
  • Stra­te­gic, metho­do­lo­gi­cal, design and manage­ment skills 

Unity factors:

  • Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with the charity and its purpose, the stra­te­gic direc­tion and the over­ar­ching goals 
  • Perso­nal commit­ment and time avail­able
  • An objec­tive, criti­cal and profes­sio­nal approach
  • Mind­set, ideo­logy and people skills 
  • Mate­rial and moral inde­pen­dence
  • Good gover­nance, inte­grity and no conflicts of inte­rest
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