Three months ago I had some cursory research done into the educational backgrounds of the chairs of the top UK foundations. Of the 57 people in the sample, seven were educated in normal state schools (non-selective), four in selective grammar schools and the overwhelming majority, 46, were educated in private, fee-paying schools, the most popular of which was Eton. Although the survey wasn’t comprehensive, we don’t need research to prove that we have a problem. We just need to open our eyes to the absence of any diversity and our ears to the fact that everyone speaks the same way.
Six degrees of separation
If it were just foundation boards, maybe it wouldn’t be too bad, but we’re increasingly seeing multiple degrees of separation: foundation boards hire foundation CEOs from corporate or family networks, who then hire grants officers in their own mould.
Grants are awarded to charities that seem ‘professional’ which themselves have boards increasingly dominated by faces from those bastions of homogeneity: media, law, politics and yes, grant-making.