EDIT 23/07/21: Following the unexpected death of Engender's Executive Director, Emma Ritch, earlier this month, we are postponing recruitment for the Board Pioneer Programme. We are still very committed to the scheme, and will be relaunching it in the future, when board members will have more capacity to get involved. Thank you for your understanding.
Today we’re launching Engender’s Board Pioneer Programme, based on the excellent work and success of Stellar Quines, the award-winning Scottish theatre company. Stellar Quines launched their Pioneer programme a few years ago and have created a detailed resource pack for others to use the model which highlights the importance of involving and learning from those whose voices are traditionally underrepresented on boards.
When we think of the stereotypical depiction of boards in films and tv, the image that springs to mind is a foreboding group of greying men in suits prioritising profits. According to the Young Trustees Movement, 1 in 12 trustees is named either John or David, and less than 3% of trustees are under 30 which means that the voices of young people, and young women in particular, are sorely lacking on boards across the country. The image of a board as a homogenous group does a disservice to the wealth of experience and knowledge that people from underrepresented groups can share – young people often have caring experience, or experience of working zero-hours contracts, or are involved in on the ground activism. Intergenerational perspectives enable better decision making for boards, and the widespread practice of filling trustee vacancies through informal networks means that boards tend to recruit in their own image, perpetuating the underrepresentation of carers, disabled women and girls, Black and minority ethnic groups, and LGBTI people.
Engender’s board members are elected by our members at our annual general meeting, and anyone who is an individual member is eligible to stand for election. We’re committed to representing a diverse range of voices on our board, and in the last couple of years have joined with organisations from across the women’s sector to run ‘Be on a Feminist Board’ information sessions for anyone interested in finding out more about feminist governance. Now, we’re building on this with our Board Pioneer Programme, a one-year opportunity to help develop the skills and experience of someone who is interested in becoming more involved in the women’s movement and gaining experience of being on a board.
The chosen Board Pioneer will take part in Engender’s board meetings throughout the year including our Annual General Meeting, and will be supported by an Engender board member and an Engender staff member who will serve as points of contact and provide information and support to the pioneer. The pioneer will learn about Engender’s work and share their views and expertise with the board, and get a chance to contribute to the decision-making and strategic direction of the organisation, as well as growing their networks and making an impact on women’s equality in Scotland.
There are no necessary qualifications, and you do not need to be an Engender member to apply for the Board Pioneer Programme. While this opportunity is not exclusively for a young person, young women aged 18-30 are currently underrepresented on our board, and we would encourage any interested young person to apply. We’re also keen to see applications from other traditionally underrepresented groups on boards such as disabled women and girls, Black and minority ethnic women, people with caring responsibilities and LGBTI people.
We are always looking for new voices on our blog.
Please send us your blogs and we can offer editing advice, and we also have some opportunities for paid contributions.