By Maisie Hulbert, policy officer at ACEVO.
A narrated version of this blog is available at the bottom of the page
Last year I wrote a blog offering some thoughts on the skills and experience the next leader of the Charity Commission will need. As the appointment process for the next chair approaches and we wait to see what skills and experience are prioritised in selecting the next incumbent, we have reviewed the person specification from the last appointment process to see how it aligns with our thoughts.
We believe the person specification should reflect the vital importance of candidates having a strong understanding of the broad charitable sector and of regulation, so we have foregrounded those elements. We have also made some of the nuances of the role more explicit, for example a commitment to both independent leadership in the face of pressure, and the specific independence of party-political neutrality.
Everything in the previous person specification was deemed essential, but we felt that some elements were desirable rather than essential, in particular the need to ‘influence’ Parliament. We felt that if not worded sensitively, this could justify close relationships between party-political figures and the Commission chair as ‘essential’. Here’s our draft person specification, based on the format of the previous version:
Charity Commission chair: person specification
The successful candidate must be able to demonstrate the following essential criteria:
- An extensive understanding of and interest in the charity sector, including an awareness of the multifaceted challenges it faces resulting from changing social and economic circumstances and the ongoing impact of Covid-19;
- Appreciation of the legal framework and the role of a regulator operating within it;
- Experience in a regulatory role and an understanding of the variety of legal charitable structures under the regulatory remit of the Charity Commission;
- Experience of maintaining independent leadership. Gathering information from the widest range of stakeholders, and ensuring objectivity, integrity and independence of thought and action in the face of external pressures;
- Experience of governance and working on a board. Demonstrable ability to provide guidance, oversight and constructive challenge to an executive leadership team across strategy, delivery and organisational issues.
- A commitment to the charity sector’s effective, independent, proportionate, and impartial regulation;
- A well-founded reputation for high levels of personal integrity, resilience and other attitudes consistent with the expectations of senior public office in a high profile role, including a commitment to demonstrating the Nolan Principles of Public Life;
- Demonstrable party-political independence and an understanding of the specific importance of party-political neutrality for charities;
- A clear commitment to building trust between the charity sector and its regulator through transparency, continued sector engagement, and a reasserted commitment to the role and remit of the regulator as laid out by Parliament;
- To be an accessible and engaging ambassador for the organisation and charities as a whole, in particular a commitment to improving public trust and understanding of the sector;
- The ability to govern to provide high-quality service and deliver value for money for the taxpayer;
- The skills to lead a board and support the leadership of a high-profile organisation;
- The ability to make strategic decisions within a complex and shifting external landscape.
The following criteria are desirable:
- The ability to influence high level stakeholders within government and Parliament, the media, the charity sector and the business world;
- Experience of change management and/or cultural development as demonstrated by experience in either the private or charity/not-for-profit sector.
We welcome candidates from diverse backgrounds who can apply their experience to this demanding role.
The person specification and role description for the upcoming recruitment process have not yet been made public. We have written to the DCMS Select Committee and the Secretary of State to ask that key issues be prioritised but have yet to receive a response to these communications. We have also written to and had a conversation with Peter Riddell, the outgoing commissioner for public appointments.
It continues to be of vital importance that the recruitment process is open and transparent, and that any advertisement clearly outlines the distinctive combination of skills needed for this role. We believe that charities are strengthened by open, enabling and proportionate regulation, and hope that the new chair of the commission will have the experience and skills needed to deliver on this.
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