Unit 2: The importance of a safe organisational culture


2.6 Transforming organisational culture

Building the capacity or composition of the Board may be needed to transform organisational culture.

According to studies, 34% of the largest 100 charities in the UK have no representation from ethnic minority communities in their leadership team, while women occupy just 27.5% of chair, chief executive, and chief financial officer positions, despite making up 65% of the workforce in the sector (Williams, 2018).

As mentioned, changing the composition of Boards and senior management teams to facilitate EDI and effective safeguarding, whilst fundamental, will not be easy. It means starting to have open conversations. Such conversations can be uncomfortable as they involve shifting power and countering the privilege and entitlement of those in power.

Diversity at Board level and among the senior management team is important to counter racism and inequality and encourage inclusiveness. It is also important to discourage ‘groupthink’, where poor decisions go unchallenged because everyone thinks in a similar way about an issue.

Encouraging existing long-term Board members, within the terms of the organisation’s Constitution, to retire at the end of their term could be seen as a loss of their power, privilege and entitlement, and may be resisted. But Boards have a crucial role to play in transforming organisational culture, most especially in recruiting the Chief Executive Officer and the senior management team. If they are predominantly of the same ethnic group, or age, or background, they are likely to hire people who look or think like them.

To be well placed to evaluate the best candidates, Boards need lived experience of the challenges of development in low-resource settings and to understand the importance of EDI for the future of the organisation’s growth.

More about this in unit 4 of the course.