London, 12 March 2019 – Delegates at ICSA: The Governance Institute’s Charity Governance Conference on Friday 8 March were treated to a thought-provoking keynote speech by feminist activist Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith, Director of Anona Development Consultancy, who called for a revolution in the charity sector and said that business as usual won’t do any more.
Dressed in the suffragette colours of green, white and purple in honour of International Women’s Day, Esuantsiwa gave a philosophical consideration of “We are doing our best; but is it fit for the 21st Century?” Drawing from her vast experience of the Third Sector, Esuantsiwa concluded that the extraordinary challenges of today’s world require the charity sector “to respond with imagination and creativity, transformatory leadership, new structures and new ways of working.”
Issuing a call for boards to ‘Be the change we want to see’, she recalled her own experience of being on a board for the first time: one of only three women board members, the only black person and, aged 28, the youngest person in the room. Creating a good board experience by ensuring that boards are diverse and inclusive; participatory and active; with added value and shared leadership is essential if the sector is to improve Esuantsiwa feels.
A firm believer that the Third Sector is essential for a healthy democracy, by getting people involved and engaged in the world around us, Esuantsiwa feels that it is important for the charity sector to reconsider what is being measured, who is doing the measuring and whose voices get heard. “It’s not us and them. It’s just us. All of us.”
In the context of the globalisation backlash which has led to Brexit, Trump, everyday racism and sexism, and massive planetary issues like global warming, increasing inequality and the diminishing of the world’s resources, she questioned how the Third Sector could respond to political choices about the way we live and how things are run.
“We have inherited a very special space, very precious, essential to democracy and for citizen’s empowerment, and we should guard it with our lives. Expand it, share power and leadership, champion a new generation. Make it fit for the 21st century. To do this we have to be clear about our rootedness, our role, and what we stand for. We need a new narrative, new purposes, different language and fresh concepts.”
Esuantsiwa suggests that the sector needs to change in the following ways:
She also believes that a different vision should be created for the board in the following ways:
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Notes to Editors: