Multiplying value, not dividing it  

Mike Buonaiuto

When I heard that September’s issue of Alliance magazine would spearhead the topic of diversity, to say I was pleased would be an understatement. But it was Bharat Mehta’s article ‘The glass ceiling: cracked but not dismantled’ and his words about the need to share power that struck a chord for me.

For the third sector, the goal is not to make a profit. We as an industry are driven by our moral compass and by making an impact in the world. Unlike other industries, the motivation behind diversity or hitting diversity metrics isn’t making money. It’s done because it is the moral thing to do.

However, according to research by Inclusive Boards – which found the largest charities have a smaller proportion of people from ethnic minorities on their boards than FTSE 100 companies –the third sector is still behind the private in terms of diversity.

Given the underlying motivation for the industry as a whole, shirking capitalist ideals feeds into what Mehta was saying about sharing the power at the top, rather than wielding it.

Charities and social enterprises are traditionally risk-averse, which has contributed to the lack of diversity. Mehta’s article outlined concerns regarding the hiring process, and how we as a sector pluck from circles we know and use headhunters similar to ourselves.

But if we did venture outside of comfort zones and in the process create safe spaces for healthy critique and feedback, we can begin to push forward and evolve.

Whether that takes the form of the measures suggested by Mehta – such as hiring individuals with direct experience with the issues we are combatting or anonymous CVs – I believe that by approaching issues from the view of a shared economy, one in which both wealth and value are shared, we can address the core motivations of the sector and unlock channels to promote diversity.

Only by tapping into experiences at every level and background will we multiply value, rather than dividing it.

Mike Buonaiuto
Executive director and founder, Shape History

For other views on this issue see ‘Now is the time to build a movement for philanthropic equity‘ by Carly Hare and ‘Move beyond diversity – reframe power‘ by Jennifer Choi. 

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