A wooden wall covered in colorful event posters with a partly demolished building and blue sky in the background.
Ancoats Survey, Manchester. Advertising posters on George Leigh Street.  © Historic England Archive. DP070232.
Ancoats Survey, Manchester. Advertising posters on George Leigh Street.  © Historic England Archive. DP070232.

How Do We Draft Inclusive Board Recruitment Marketing and Promotional Materials?

What is this resource for?

Our research shows that heritage boards struggle with recruiting diverse trustees. This resource provides guidance on how to produce inclusive board recruitment copy and where to promote your vacancies.

Trusteeship is, for the most part, an unpaid voluntary role. To engage a broad range of people with the skills, knowledge and experience you need, you will first need to draw the attention of diverse candidates and entice people to apply. To do this, you will need to make your adverts appealing and accessible so that people are not only engaged by the adverts but motivated to respond.

This advice was produced on behalf of Historic England by Getting on Board.

This resource forms part of a wider strand of work around heritage board diversity. For other resources in this series, see the 'Inclusive governance boards and diverse trustees' section of the Inclusive Heritage Advice Hub.

What are the key points?

  • Developing good advertising for your board opportunities needs an initial period of questioning and reflection to identify what you need and want
  • Language plays a significant role in the inclusivity and accessibility of board role advertisements
  • Advertisements should be comprehensive in detailing the requirements and benefits of the role but use clear language to communicate these points
  • Where you advertise your role matters. Different places will yield very different candidates

What questions should we ask ourselves before writing our copy?

  • Do prospective board members really need prior board experience and/or a degree?
  • Do prospective board members need a detailed understanding of governance and their legal responsibilities, or can training be provided? Getting on Board provides free training for trustees throughout the year through its Trustee Learning Programme
  • Have you used "at a senior level/significant senior experience" with care? 'Senior' is subjective, as what is senior in one organisation or sector differs from the next
  • Do they really need knowledge and expertise from your sector?
  • Have you considered transferable skills? Our 'Barriers and Enablers to Board Diversity in the Heritage Sector' report highlights an over-reliance on certain types of skills, coupled with a reluctance to look outside the sector. Instead, consider transferable skills
  • From our research, it is apparent that 'seniority' is valued within the heritage sector, but this can rule out people in their early careers who can bring valuable skills and perspectives
  • Does your advert state meeting times?
  • Does your advert state meeting times and locations, expenses and so on? By clarifying these practical aspects, candidates can rule the opportunity in or out depending on their personal and professional commitments, such as caring responsibilities, work patterns, and travel
  • If the time commitment is high, does it have to be the same for everyone? If your board member is undertaking their responsibilities by reading the papers, asking questions, providing input into board discussions and adding value, fellow board members may agree that they can participate in board decision-making in a different way

What sort of language should we be using?

Avoid using phrases like: “This is an exciting opportunity for 3 senior professionals… to join our organisation as a trustee” or “We are seeking applications to fill 4 vacancies on our trustee board with a high calibre of people…”

These are subjective terms that are likely to deter a wider group of people from applying. Instead, use open language and explain roles in plain English.

Do not use gendered or ableist language. This gender bias decoder is a useful tool to help avoid it.

Consider different learning styles or needs, offering different formats such as Easy Read or Braille, and alternative ways of applying (such as a 2 to 3-minute video in place of a written application).

How do we take accessibility into account?

How will you ensure that your advert is visible, shareable, and clear? It should also be accessible, by using an accessible format such as Easy Read and inclusive and meaningful language. Failure to do this could deter potential applicants from applying.

Add alt text and meaningful image descriptions to any images, and state that different formats, such as text-only documents or Easy Read formats, can be provided.

What should we include in our advert?

Make your advert exciting and motivating by writing about your organisation’s work and the difference a trustee can make.

Be clear about the skills, knowledge and experience applicants need and why.

Also, clarify for applicants what the trustee role involves, including its responsibilities and expectations. Be explicit about the support you offer to trustees, such as expenses, training, and so on.

Things to include are:

  • What a trustee does
  • What your organisation do, and why this is an exciting opportunity for a trustee to join
  • What skills and experience you are looking for, and why
  • Any groups you particularly encourage applications from
  • Benefits of relevance to under-represented groups (for example, childcare expenses)
  • Details of any other benefits (for example, out-of-pocket expenses, training, and so on)
  • Where meetings are held, and start and finish times (and what the wider time commitment will be)

Given just 10% of trustee vacancies are advertised, and 90% of charities report they recruited most of their current trustees through word of mouth and existing networks, you will need to look wider than your usual networks.

A few that we recommend include:

These are a few other places you could list your opportunities:

  • LinkedIn
  • Professional groups (for example, Women in Banking & Finance)
  • Local community groups (for example, Facebook groups)
  • Local publications
  • Relevant online networks