Why More Women Should Consider Charity Trusteeship

I was first empowered by trusteeship at the age of 23, working with some very experienced women and men who believed in me and welcomed my contribution to the charity. Their guidance taught me so much about making good decisions–something I would continue to draw on for years to come.

Even now as Director of Policy and Communications for the Charity Commission, I still sit as a charity trustee, currently for Endometriosis UK, and constantly refine and build skills that I use in my everyday life.

I was surprised to see the results of the Charity Commission’s new trustee awareness research which shows that men outnumber women two to one on trustee boards. Our research shows that charity boards are not reflective of the communities charities serve.

With the benefits of trusteeship being so vast, I found it difficult to believe the idea of making a difference in a cause important to you, developing your confidence and learning new skills, wasn’t something appealing to other women. There has to be something else going on in the background, like perhaps more women aren’t aware of the benefits they can reap from trusteeship–but more importantly– how their knowledge and experience can help a charity that they are passionate about run better and further fulfill its goals.

While we are encouraging charities to broaden their hiring processes to diversify their boards, I personally would like to encourage women to tackle this gender gap, and bring women’s voices back to charities by actively seeking these opportunities. Too often women find themselves losing confidence in their abilities, for example when having children while striving to compete against male counterparts in the workplace, and don’t realise what they are truly capable of.

For me, trusteeship was particularly empowering when I went on maternity leave – my confidence was low and I was worried about losing my skills. Being part of a team again gave me a focus beyond the baby and the new responsibilities of motherhood while working in an area that I am passionate about. I was making a difference and developing in ways that I never had before, even while working full time. Still to this day, trusteeship keeps me grounded. Being quite senior in my role can mean that I am often a long way from the grass roots, but being a trustee of a smaller charity with no full time staff means I have to be hands on and practical -serving as a friendly reminder when managing hard working staff at the Charity Commission as to what it’s like to be on the frontlines.

Charity boards need more women, or society will find itself losing a crucial voice from key social issues. With charities operating in so many areas and helping so many different people, now more than ever it is essential that women’s voices are not only heard, but that the important knowledge and perspectives we hold are utilised for the betterment of society.

To find out more about becoming a charity trustee, visit http://trusteesweek.org/.