Empowering Professionals

Selina McClure: How to diversify your school governing board

Diversity is a reality that can be created by pulling together individuals from a broad spectrum of differences.

“We need more governors who look like me”

Those are the words of Rochelle Clarke – a young governor at a church school in east London. She spoke in a recent BBC news article about her experience of being a governor and her work to make boards more inclusive.  

At Smart School Services, our Children’s Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) group have pledged to increase the representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic governors, and those with disabilities, on school boards in the London Borough of Wandsworth.  We need our governing boards to be representative of the communities that they are in. 

A board that begins to think about real diversity is one that is prepared to ask itself difficult questions and to challenge itself—and therefore come up with more thoughtful and original answers—and one that opens itself up to better decision making. It is critical to ensure that you have a diverse group of people around the table to have the most effective governing board. When recruiting a new governor, don’t just think about the skill set that you need, but also the representation of your school communities on your board.

Diversity is a reality that can be created by pulling together individuals from a broad spectrum of differences

Sharon Warmington, Director of the National Black Governors Network, spoke recently to over 50 Wandsworth governors and Heads on “How to diversify your governing board”.  She inspired the governors with practical tips on how to increase diversity.  Some of her tips (and more) are listed below. 

  • Complete a Succession Plan and consider diversity
  • Train your board on the importance of diversity
  • Add a link governor role to champion diversity on the board
  • Make the selection criteria transparent 
  • If your local community does not have the diversity that you need – look more widely
  • Don’t rely on personal contacts – this can often lead to more of the same
  • Actively seek out diverse networks within the professions or skill set you require – look on LinkedIn for Black, disabled, Asian, minority ethnic backgrounds, younger groups within relevant sectors. 
  • Look at your student alumni to recruit younger governors to your board
  • Contact Faith and Community Leaders
  • Give value to background and experiences as well as skill sets

If you need any support increasing diversity on your board, please book a Head to Head meeting to discuss how we can help.


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