The Code is reviewed at three-year intervals with the aim of supporting 'continuous improvement' in charity governance. In 2017 a new edition of the Code was published. For 2020 the Code steering group proposed a light ‘refresh’ with more extensive changes due in 2023. The changes this year involve updating the Diversity Principle and the Integrity Principle.
The new Code sets expectations for what charities should be doing to embed considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in their governance arrangements.
It sets out four stages of recommended practice, asking boards to:
1. assess the current level of understanding and think about why EDI is important for the charity,
2. set plans and targets,
3. monitor and measure progress, and
4. publish the charity’s progress in meeting these targets, including any challenges, opportunities and lessons learned.
The new Code also has a strengthened Integrity Principle. Among other things, it recommends that trustees:
a) understand their safeguarding responsibilities,
b) establish appropriate procedures, and
c) ensure that everyone in contact with the charity knows how to raise concerns.
These are welcome additions to the Charity Governance Code. EDI issues have been a focus for many in the sector for some time and were highlighted earlier this year by the Black Lives Matter protests and subsequent sector initiatives. Similarly, sector developments have highlighted the importance of safeguarding as a component of effective governance. While these changes are unsurprising, reflecting them effectively in your charity's governance may involve a significant amount of work.
Find out more about EDI and charity governance here.