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Young trustees are bringing sustainability to the boardroom

May 24, 2021
Kate Roberts

Kate Roberts is the South East Region Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement, where she is also campaigning to embed sustainability into Trustee Board discussions. Kate is the Chair of Trustees at Royal Holloway Students’ Union, where she is currently the President. She is also an Advocate for Girlguiding UK where she acts as a national spokesperson, representing and campaigning for girls and young women across the UK.

Young people need a seat at the table

Over half of trustees in the UK are retired, while less than 3% are under the age of 30. The Young Trustees Movement is working to change this. We aim to double the number of trustees aged 30 and under on charity boards by 2024. While we focus on the age of trustees, our movement is part of a wider call for diversity.

We aim to change the image of what a trustee should look like and empower organisations and individuals to see the value of young people. We know young people can effectively challenge norms and contribute valuable insight into important discussions.

Sustainability and its impact on all charities

The climate emergency poses a significant risk to the communities that charities serve, impacting every charitable mission. The charity sector has a significant role to play in minimising environmental impacts, championing sustainability, and future-proofing organisations. Climate action is vital to continue providing support to the most marginalised insociety today, without harming the needs of future generations.

Young people are setting the agenda through grassroots activism, school climate strikes, and campaign groups. With the tone shifting to one of urgency over the last five years, many organisations in thethird sector are looking at how sustainability can be embedded in their work.

The charity sector is uniquely positioned to influence both the public and the government to act, and the sector’s diversity plays a huge role in this. Every charity will approach sustainability from a different perspective, mobilising different areas of society to act.

Bringing young trustees to the conversation

Ensuring young people have a voice in all aspects of charitable organisations, including at the trustee level, creates a space for sustainability issues to be raised and questioned. The diversity ofperspectives young trustees bring is needed to address structural inequalities and the climate crisis.

Every decision made as a charity should have a consideration of sustainability because all decisions will impact the environment in some way. Young people on the trustee board can be fantastic allies and advocates for this work; we are working to increase the representation of young people in trusteeship for this exact reason.

It is vital that we empower young people to see themselves in trustee positions, which are traditionally exclusionary,homogenous, and lacking diversity of perspectives. The involvement of young people is part of the process of becoming more sustainable for organisations, as it opens the doors to new opportunities and solutions. We can all help make changes that drive us towards a brighter future if we have a seat at the table.

Get involved

Trusteeship is an experience that will boost your career and provide a fantastic opportunity to develop a range of key skills all whilst making a difference to a charity that will benefit from young people’s engagement. We, therefore, have two requests:

-       If you are a young person, investigate becoming a trustee and see what impact you can make when you have a seat at the table.

-       If you are part of a charitable organisation, question the diversity of perspectives on your Trustee Board, and champion the involvement of young people as trustees.

Get involved with the Young Trustees Movement, either on an individual level or through promoting opportunities to engaged young people. Check out our digital hub for resources, our opportunity board to connect with organisations, and join one of our Champion Training Sessions to find out more. Make sure you follow the Young Trustees Movement to keep updated with our work!