Trusteeship can help chemical engineers advance their careers and give to a cause they love, says Fiona McAuslan
WHAT’S the best way to advance your career? Focus on your personal development or learn on the job? How about a way that combines both and helps you volunteer for a cause you care about?
Charity trustees are the group of people with overall responsibility for a charity: they’re where the buck stops. They are often called the board or governing body. At the Institution of Chemical Engineers, for example, they are called trustees. They make key decisions about the direction the charity will take and how it fulfils its purpose. They also make sure the charity has the resources and policies it needs to do this well and to comply with legal requirements.
Actually, no. Anyone can be a trustee if they’re over the age of 18 (and, in some cases, 16 depending on the structure of the charity). You don’t even need to be a UK resident or indeed a citizen to be a trustee for a UK charity. Having experience in the voluntary sector and being an expert in charity governance is not a prerequisite for being a trustee. At Getting on Board we’ve helped hundreds of people to become trustees.
There are some 203,150 registered charities in the UK and they often struggle to find trustees, particularly ones who reflect the communities they serve. Underrepresented groups on boards include young people, women, people of colour, the LGBT+ community, disabled people, and the working class. Today, an increasing number of charities are alert to the challenges that a lack of board diversity brings and are looking for new trustees beyond their established circles.
This means that if you’re considering your first trusteeship, the breadth of opportunity is huge. Individual charities will have a checklist of the knowledge, skills and experience they need on their board. However, there are some essential attributes to being a trustee and happily, there’s a brilliant synergy with chemical engineers.
The old adage of “no such thing as a stupid question” is never truer than in a boardroom. So much of what happens on boards is because “we’ve always done it that way”. Sometimes just asking “why?” is the best way to usher in new thinking.
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