Achieving an inclusive approach to board recruitment in arts, heritage and culture

“10 years ago, one of the most important considerations in trustee recruitment was previous governance experience. The trouble is that this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle – an inner sanctum into which aspiring arts trustees cannot access.” Rebekah Abbott, Head of Arts, Heritage and Culture Appointments at Peridot Partners, explains.

In 2020, the Arts Council released their data report on equity, diversity and inclusion. Their report cited that a lack of diversity across the sector has resulted in arts, heritage and culture organisations becoming fragile, inflexible and unable to retain people best equipped to tackle challenges.

Since its publication, leaders have stepped up their commitment to becoming diverse to their core and more inclusive. Organisations have risen to the challenge, becoming agile and responsive to attracting participants, audiences, visitors and stakeholders from wider backgrounds and across wider spaces.

Key to your heritage organisation evolving, adapting, and ultimately thriving, is a diverse board. Stakeholders must each nurture and cultivate an inclusive climate full of divergent thinkers who have a space not only in which to speak, but also to be heard. Boards must reflect the diversity of the audience that the organisation is striving to serve. The first steps to a diverse board begin with open and inclusive recruitment processes.

Before the process 

  • Ensure that you have an equitable, responsive and inclusive induction process.
  • Are your board meetings accessible?
  • What are your expenses policies?
  • What is the realistic time commitment?

Attracting the right trustees

  • Consider the power of simple, clear language, avoiding jargon: ensure you use open language which accounts for differences in your applicants.
  • Proactively reach into a variety of different communities and organisations, going beyond the “usual suspects” and existing networks.
  • Focus on personality traits, behaviours and skills over governance experience.
  • Encourage an open and brave culture throughout the whole organisation.

Practical considerations

  • The search process alone can take up to 80 hours – and that’s before anyone has even applied!
  • Consider how many hours can really be dedicated to ensure a fruitful search.
  • Consider the candidate journey – realise that the recruitment process is your prospective candidate’s first touch point and is a powerful brand building tool for your organisation.

It is incumbent upon us all to ensure that diverse voices are heard around every table. Creating a truly inclusive climate will propel your organisation to the next level, present positive challenge, offer a divergence of views and provide a true representation of your audience at Board level.

Our dedicated recruitment team have over 50 years’ combined lived experience within the arts, heritage and culture sectors at executive and non-executive level. We are true specialists, communicating with understanding, incisiveness and passion about your organisation. We are dedicated Partners for every organisation with whom we work, placing our values and your needs at the heart of everything we do.

To find out more about what sets us apart, please contact Rebekah Abbott, Head of Arts, Heritage and Culture Appointments at Peridot Partners on or 07538 270749