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2018 Shortlist | ActionAid

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Winner – Board Diversity and Inclusivity


Who they are

ActionAid is an international development charity focused on eradicating poverty and inequality.

What they’ve achieved

In a sector where 72% of charity trustees are men, ActionAid worked hard to put more diverse people in the driving seat. Powered by feminist principles, it has succeeded in building a board of trustees that is 69% female, featuring young people and representatives from the countries where it works.

“What sort of board do we want to be?” That was the key question that emerged from the charity’s far-reaching 2017 external governance review. ActionAid answered with positive steps to attract trustees that support and reflect its mission to work with girls and women from the world’s poorest communities.

Why they are a winner

Judges praised ActionAid’s “bold innovation” and the way it has made its ambitions a reality with practical solutions to overcome inclusion challenges.

The charity is not just appointing trustees from diverse backgrounds, but making sure those trustees actively influence policy too. For example, the board has pioneered an app that monitors the amount of time men and women speak during a meeting, to avoid male dominance. It also uses a “gradient of agreement”, which allows the board to quickly gain a sense of how members feel about an issue.

Trustees say that simply having an open conversation about feminist leadership has helped the board reflect on who gets to have a say at the top level. This emphasis on mutual respect has resulted in clearer decision-making in which everyone feels heard.

These changes are already beginning to have a significant impact at a strategic level – shaping the charity’s life-changing work on female genital mutilation (FGM).

What the judges said

ActionAid are the winners because they are aiming for a radical reconfiguring of governance. They demonstrate they are living their values by being the change that they want to see in the world.”


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