On Thursday June 11th 2020the Board of HIV Scotland approved the request to sign the Equality Action Pledge, and a working group of Board members has been set up to support the Chief Executive meet the pledge outcomes and provide a report to future Board meetings. 

 The general underrepresentation of many people with protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) in employment, participation, and volunteering is well-established in Scotland. The third sector, unfortunately, is no exception. CRER’s 2019 research (Charity Trustee Ethnicity in Glasgow) showed that 80% of Glasgow’s top charitable companies had no BME trustees, and only 5.9% of trustees of those charities were from a BME background. Research also found that women of all ethnicities are underrepresented on Glasgow’s charity boards, and BME women face even greater barriers to fair representation than white women. Similar trends of underrepresentation at board and senior leadership levels in England and Wales were found by the organisation Inclusive Boards in 2018, and by the Charity Commission in England in Wales in 2017.  

A lack of board diversity can significantly impact organisations in several ways, and can affect decision making and governance, funding opportunities, and public trust and engagement. 

The Equality Action Pledge asks organisations to formally acknowledge that the lack of diversity in the voluntary sector is a serious issue that requires action. It asks that they commit to tackling discrimination and underrepresentation within their organisation by agreeing to the following: 

  • Our Board will take steps to measure the diversity of the Board, senior leadership, staff, volunteers and service users by all relevant protected characteristics. 
  • Our Board will identify what it can do to achieve fair representation from underrepresented groups at Board, senior leadership, staff, and volunteer levels. We will set targets and take action for improvement. 
  • Our organisation will tackle barriers which might prevent some groups of people from accessing our services. 


In signing the Equality Action Pledge, we hope our partner organisations will make the same commitment; recognising room for improvement and implementing direct action to remedy it in order to provide opportunities for more people, and deliver work that is both diverse and representative in who it serves. Sign here.