Diversifying our governing bodies: what progress are we making?
Chief Executive of ECU, David Ruebain, discusses findings of our latest research and asks: what more should be done to diversify university governing bodies?
The diversity of university governance has been in the spotlight in Scotland over the past three years. A government review headed by Professor von Prondzynski first highlighted a need for gender diversity, as well as diversity in broader terms. The Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance that followed expressly requires university governing bodies to set goals and develop policies to increase their diversity.
Since then, much work has been undertaken by universities in Scotland to address the balance of their board members in terms of diversity. Our research has found that all Scottish universities have developed policies and set targets in relation to the diversity of their governing bodies. Many are also trialling positive action measures like creating inclusive role specifications and using targeted advertising.
Over the course of the last year, my team and I have spoken to governors, chairs, secretaries and related staff across universities in Scotland and we have been impressed by the volume of positive action initiatives emerging as a consequence of this increased focus.
However, we must caution against complacency; our research indicates that there are still barriers to climb in order to attain greater diversity among university governors. Key challenges highlighted include moving beyond gender diversity to characteristics such as age and ethnicity and influencing the diversity of governing body members elected from within the university.
My team and I will be presenting the findings and recommendations from this research in Edinburgh on 30 June 2015. We will have a variety of experts joining us to discuss the future direction for the sector. We do hope you will be able to join us.