There is no doubt that many VCSE organisations are currently under enormous pressure, and it was with this in mind that the Charity Governance Code steering group initially discussed whether 2020 was an appropriate time to update the Code. However, recognising that updating the Code would help to bring it into line with how organisations have been forced to operate in the light of the Covid pandemic, the steering group decided to go ahead with the planned three-yearly update. (Broadly applicable to social enterprises as well as charities, it sits alongside specific guidance on CIC governance.)
Over the past year strong governance has been reaffirmed as vital to successful organisations, and the Charity Governance Code remains an important tool for trustee boards. The 2020 refresh reflects current debates in the sector and a webinar describes the steering group’s approach in updating key principles.
In consulting on the update, the steering group received over 130 substantive responses and feedback from over 800 organisations and individuals. Engagement was particularly strong around the areas of diversity, inclusion, equity and equality and a right to be safe.
Seeking to update the Code’s guidance on integrity (principle 3), the steering group emphasised the importance that “everyone who comes into contact with a charity should be treated with dignity and respect and feel that they are in a safe, supportive environment. Moreover, those that lead a charity should exhibit and be held to the highest level of personal integrity and conduct.”
For equality, diversity and inclusion (principle 6), the webinar includes pointers to help ensure your board is representative, and the pitfalls to avoid when doing so. Code steering group member Pari Dhillon said: “EDI is not like learning to change a fuse in a plug, you don’t learn how to do it once and then just repeat it. Instead, it’s a process of self-assessment and learning, taking some action and being willing to learn from successes and failures along the way. It’s iterative, it’s constantly evolving, just as society is evolving.”
To help organisations implement the code, Voscur regularly offer Being a Good Board Member training, Being an Even Better Board Member training and bespoke development sessions for whole boards as well as good practice resources.