Thursday, 29 March 2012


Another breakfast. Though this time not a Whitehall cafe but Barclays Bank in Mayfair. A better class of croissant!  I was there to listen to Ffion Hague talk about recruiting talent into our sector. Fascinating.

She has been a civil servant , headhunter and now Running " independent board evaluation " which does what it says on the tin. She works on the corporate and charity sector. She is also a trustee of Outward Bound and the ENO. She was very optimistic about the talent and future of sector leaders . People do look to our sector for careers. It is an exciting and challenging place to work. And she is right!

I believe our sector leaders have a huge amount to offer as non executives , but Ffion said the problem with that is the private sector tend to recruit to specific roles like chair of audit or remuneration for which they want  skills that we tend not to have. They do not generally have roles for a broader generalist  , though she felt they should. She was also strongly advocating the need for the commercial sector to recruit non execs from less traditional routes and backgrounds.

I know from my time as ACEVO CEO how our Sector has developed , grown and professionalised. But that tends to be at a staff and management level. It has not reached our governance structures. That is not for want of trying by CEOs. The Charity Commission have failed to support those who want to change governance structures. Who want a Unitary board. Who want to pay trustees. They make it incredibly difficult to change. They make it expensive because they treat it as a legal issue and so we end up using expensive lawyers. It is the next big challenge for our sector; professionalising governance.

Lessons for the public and private sectors. In particular , the issue is how our public services can make better use of us. It was the core of my speech to the NHS Gateway to Leadership national conference today.   Now we have a Health service Act the leaders of the NHS need to think how they commission services differently. And for us in the third sector , how do we engage better with the new structures in the NHS?

The gateway to leadership scheme is a great example of where the NHS can get things very right. It set up this scheme to attract and retain great talent from other sectors. Welcoming in people who want to move from a career in private or third sectors. A great audience and I was challenging. But this was a group that saw how the system needs to change from medical domination to prevention and integrated care and comity services. There is hope yet the service can change.

Anyway have to dash. I'm off to Oxford for the Skoll Social Enterprise Conference. Always fun. Stimulating. And good networking if you like that sort of thing!!!

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