Late last year the NCVO published an updated version of the Charity Governance Code as part of its commitment to review the Code every three years to ensure that it reflects any changes in society. Following consultation, two key areas of the code have been updated.
Firstly, the focus of Principle 3: Integrity has been broadened. Previously it was primarily concerned with protecting the charity’s assets and reputation, but the updated Code places increased emphasis on values, culture and the right of everyone to be safe, which reflects developments in the sector and the NCVO’s own Charity Ethical Principles. As a consequence of these changes trustees are now expected to assess and address power imbalances where they exist, understand their safeguarding responsibilities, establish appropriate procedures that are integrated with the charity’s risk management approach and make sure that everyone in contact with the charity knows how to speak up and raise concerns.
The second area that has been updated Principle 6 which has been renamed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. It was clear that the previous guidance could go much further to support charities work towards board diversity and creating an inclusive culture. As a result, the principle includes a recommended four-stage process for charities to follow as they embark on this journey. It is the aim of the Code to help charities and their trustees develop high standards of governance. It is not a legal or regulatory requirement but is to be used as a practical tool. The Code sets the principles and recommended practice for good governance and is deliberately aspirational.
It is intentional that the Code will be a stretch for many charities to achieve but should be used as a tool for continuous improvement.