I was invited to attend and present a speech at a conference called Governance Now, which brought together board members from companies, charities, and arts organisations across the UK. Governance means the way organisations are managed at the highest level, usually with a group of diverse people who come together to discuss decision making, called a board (of directors or trustees), and I think it’s important that all kinds of people, but especially young people, the voices of the future, are represented by a member on every board. It was a great day with some great speeches and presentations, that left us with a lot to think about.
This was the speech I gave at Governance Now –
Hello, I am Dave Young, a performance poet and artist.
I am on the board of Trustees at Diverse City. I have been attending board meetings on and off for the last 5 years or so but I have been an official board member for the last 2 years.
Last year I became involved with On Board which is an initiative to encourage more young people into the Board room of cultural organisations. It was helpful to redefine my role on the board and now I am more confident to contribute in meetings. It was a good learning experience for me. On Board made me more settled and engaged in meetings. I am now really interested in governance and am seeking out more board opportunities.
I have worked with Diverse City since I was 12 and watched as it has grown bigger. I was often asked to represent some of the young members of Diverse City’s Youth projects and basically I just fell into governance after they asked me to sit in on some board meetings to share and report on the Youth Activities of the Company. After that I was invited officially to join the board but before that I hadn’t really thought that much into becoming a board member. I knew the company as a participant and then as an artist and activist so it just felt right to work more closely with it as it changed and developed. I have benefitted by getting to see how a company can grow and expand.
How does Diverse City help me in board meetings? They give me the papers in time so I can get my reading done and note down any worries or questions that I have before the meeting. Any good and committed organisation and board member ideally should do this anyway. They offer me a buddy in meetings to support me and I can ask them questions. And they check before moving on to the next item. They always provide a break out space so if anyone needs a time out they can go there and after a few minutes rejoin the meeting.
If your company doesn’t reflect society, how can it reach out and grow? If you don’t have any diverse, young or disabled representation then how can you realistically move forward into the future? Diverse City has embraced the face of society and seeks to reflect the wider community within its work but also within its management and Governance. We still have a long way to go but it is an exciting journey and I am proud to be part of it.