b'INCLUSIONPEOPLE LIKE USThe social profile of governors has changed little over the years. But, as times change, this can expose occasions of accidental sexism, unintentional racism and other biases. Mike Buchanan reportsMost governing bodies of fee-paying schools in the UKunvalued and lacking respect for who they are? In are made up of people like me: white, male, 50+ yearsother words, feeling as if they do not belong? I hope old, highly educated, affluent and from a narrow rangethe answer is no! Nonetheless, this is the reality for of backgrounds and professional experiences. Thesome students and their families in our schools; in your 2021 survey covering state-maintained schools by theschool.National Governance Association (NGA) found that 93% of respondents were white and that this proportion hadNo more lip servicehardly changed in the last 20 years. According to theDiversity and inclusion are not nice-to-haves. They NGA, just 1% are from mixed or multiple ethnic groups,are the foundation upon which positive, productive 3% are Asian, 1% are Black; 91% are aged 40+ andand joyous communities are built. For too long we have 99% are aged 30+.paid lip service to the idea of their importance and waited in hope that the statistics might naturally evolve I dont think that these statistics are collected forover time. This strategy of hope over action has failed independent schools in the UK. But they should be.too many people in our care: colleagues, students and I have no reason to suppose that they would betheir families. Some schools have set out deliberately different in any substantial way. In other words, moston a different path often driven by a combination of schools are largely governed by people like me. enlightened head and chair.So what? I consider myself to be open-minded,A good starting point is for the board members to thoughtful and inclusive in the way I behave so, givenexplore their individual understanding of the terms this, surely the most important thing I bring to theand come to a shared language. This process takes time boards I sit on are my skills, knowledge and experiencesand careful exploration; it may be best facilitated by gained over many years working in and with schoolsan outsider. I find it ironic that as a white, privileged, across the world? Surely these characteristics are moreolder man I am increasingly being asked to talk with important than someones background? Diversity isboards about diversity and inclusion. I am told thats a nice-to-have but lets not have the tail wagging thebecause I can provide a degree of psychological safety dog! This is exactly the argument I have encountered inand, hence, prompt an open conversation. This fear 2021 when working with governing bodies. of getting it wrong is a powerful driver of hesitancy and inaction. So how might a board start such a All change conversation?Many things will automatically change as a result of the pandemic. Some things must be changed post- Get talkingpandemic and the place of equality, equity, diversityIn order to promote productive dialogue, governors and inclusion (EEDI) as a central feature our schoolsmight start by exploring:should be one of the changes. And, it must be led from1. How employees, students and parents experience and by the governing bodies of our schools.inclusion as well as their own perspectives, and2. Begin to outline a vision for the future based on There are many business-led reasons why greaterthese findings and their agreed common language. diversity and inclusion are positive steps for schools to take not least that employees and students in thoseIn other words, governors might address:schools will have a richer experience, contribute moreWhy EEDI matters and to whom.and achieve more highly as a result. If you need aThe role of governors in leading on EEDI.rational argument for change then this is a good one.What equality, equity, diversity and inclusion mean to Alongside this is the emotional, moral argument. Asthe employees, students and parents.a governor of a school, would you set out with the intention of making people in your school communityComing to your own, visceral definition of the terms is feel excluded, unheard, unseen, unsafe, untrusted,a vital step in bringing good intentions to life in your 18 www.independentinsight.netIwww.iexcellence.co.ukIwww.i25awards.co.uk'