Board members’ capacity
Building effective boards
Your board should develop and promote a collective vision for the organisation’s purpose that mirrors its objectives (see our section on ). Aligned to that vision will be the body’s internal operating climate, culture, behaviours and values; these will be established by the board and articulated and embodied in their actions. The board will provide good governance and leadership by:
- understanding their role;
- ensuring delivery of organisational purpose;
- working effectively both as individuals and as a team;
- exercising effective control and autonomy, where appropriate;
- behaving with integrity;
- being open and accountable; and
- creating and maintaining an inclusive work/volunteer environment.
A successful board is not necessarily a comfortable place all of the time. Challenging viewpoints as well as teamwork is essential and should be welcomed by board members and by senior management/executive. This can be achieved, in part, through having diversity in the boardroom in terms of race, gender, disability or other demographics of your membership.
Diversity is an important factor in a board’s effectiveness, creating a breadth of perspective among board members and senior managers and breaking down any inclination towards ‘group think’. This is reflected in Principle 2 of the Code for Sports Governance: ‘Organisations shall recruit and engage people with appropriate diversity, independence, skills, experience and knowledge to take effective decisions that further the organisation’s goals.’
More broadly, research has shown that greater diversity in organisations is a predictor of performance. Diversity has been shown to be an important factor in innovation, more informed decision making and greater effectiveness (achieving organisational goals). The accompanying commentary in the Code for Sports Governance explains the rationale behind the requirement and what is expected of organisations to achieve this.
The Code says
Diverse, skilled and experienced decision-making bodies contain independent voices and engage in constructive, open debate enable good decision-making.
Diversity (Requirements 2.1–2.3)
2 .1 Each organisation shall: (A) adopt a target of, and take all appropriate actions to encourage, a minimum of 30% of each gender on its Board; and (B) demonstrate a strong and public commitment to progressing towards achieving gender parity and greater diversity generally on its Board, including, but not limited to, Black, Asian, minority ethnic (BAME) diversity, and disability.2.2 Each organisation shall identify proportionate and appropriate actions to be taken to support and/or maintain (as appropriate) the diversity targets set out in Requirement 2.1. 2.3 The Board shall ensure that the organisation prepares and publishes on its website information (approved by the Board) about its work to foster all aspects of diversity within its leadership and decision making, including an annual update on progress against the actions identified in Requirement 2.2.
It will be for an organisation to decide how it identifies and agrees the actions that should be taken to support and/or maintain the diversity targets set out in Requirement 2.1. However, the Board should have a role in this process and should monitor progress against the actions, in particular discussing the annual progress update and the plan for the following year before this information is published.
How to build capacity
To conscientiously start building effectiveness in your board, you should:
- review the strengths and weaknesses of the current board from a multi-stakeholder perspective
- using a , note strengths and gaps in the capacity of the current board
- evaluate the diversity of your board
- consider what new skill sets needed on the board and how you may reach the appropriate people to serve on the board
Recruiting new board members will add different perspectives and ideas, generate discussion and improve informed decision making. Regular and planned turnover of board members keeps an organisation healthy and encourages a positive culture of change and development.
Experienced board members, meanwhile, should devote time to developing and refreshing their knowledge and skills, including those of communication, to ensure that they continue to make a positive contribution to the board. Being well informed and having a strong command of the issues relevant to the organisation and the wider sporting context will generate the respect of other board members and senior managers.
Board members need to make time available to discharge their responsibilities effectively. Recruitment material should state the minimum time that they will be expected to spend on the organisation’s business, and seek the individual’s confirmation that they can devote that