At the Barrow Cadbury Trust we believe that governance is the underpinning which makes or breaks any organisation. For this reason we pay a great deal of attention to making sure our governance arrangements are robust and fit for delivering our charitable purpose. In our case our governing body is a Board of Trustees largely drawn from direct descendants of Barrow and Geraldine Cadbury, our founders. Since 2009 the Board has also included some non-family members, recruited for particular skills or experience but always underpinned by the same values base.
Board functions and roles
Our Board has several key roles which suit and enhance our model of working. As well as the usual legal, financial and compliance responsibilities common to all charity trustees, our Board’s key functions are in strategic planning, scrutiny and the interrogation of impact. We have a Chair (currently Erica Cadbury) and lead trustees for each programme of work and for each of audit, risk and human resources. Their role is to advise and support but also to challenge staff.
The Board meets for a full day every quarter and at least once a year has an evening session with no staff present. Every quarter trustees visit a couple of the organisations we support to hear at first hand about their work, problems and progress. There are always external speakers at part of the board meeting too.
The board has only one standing sub-committee, the Investment Management Committee, which has close oversight of our investments and social investments and is currently chaired by trustee, Harry Serle. It reports quarterly to the full Board.
Board and staff responsibilities
Being a trustee is a big responsibility and is unpaid voluntary service. As a staff team we therefore consider it very important to service the board well and make the task as stress free as possible. Our board members are very generous with their time and often represent the Trust at external events. In particular, family members are sometimes asked to speak about family and values-driven philanthropy, both in the UK and overseas.
Ethics, principles and appraisal
Our board brings an ethical lens to every area of its work, whether it be as a Living Wage employer or in its approach to ethical and responsible investment. In 2020, for example, we paid special attention to race and gender lensing and what they mean for our work. Trustees are expected to abide by the Nolan principles of public life – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership – and to be transparent in their declarations of any conflicts of interests arising in the course of their duties. If you would like to see a copy of the Trustee Register of Conflicts please email us. Each conflict is graded for its level of seriousness and appropriate action arising. All trustees are appraised annually by the Chair, who is appraised by another senior trustee. Any learning and development needs are then addressed during the year.
Conflict of Interest – statement about Esther McConnell, trustee
One of our trustees, Esther McConnell, has a potential conflict of interest which Barrow Cadbury Trust would like to be transparent about. Esther works for a migration charity – the East European Resource Centre – as Deputy CEO. The Trust has a significant role in the migration field and has done for over a decade, which means there is a potential risk of conflict regarding funding.
To this end we would like it to be known that Esther McConnell will not take part in decision-making in the migration programme portfolio. She will participate only in strategic discussions about it, as a valued expert trustee. Additionally, she will make a clear declaration to the Trust Board and the CEO of any partnerships and collaborations in which her current place of employment is involved. This protocol will also apply where the Trust is a partner to another funding stream.
Duration of trusteeships
There is no maximum period of trusteeship for family trustees. While many in the charity sector believe in maximum terms of trusteeship, we find here that there is a great benefit in having long-standing trustees. As a trust, we rarely work on a short term basis and our governance arrangements enable us to take things on ‘ for the long haul’. Working as we do on structural issues and in collaborations, we find the dual factors of a shared value base and a long-term view are vital.