Suffolk charities 'stuck in the 1970s over diversity'

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Suffolk's charities and public sector groups are stuck in the 1970s when it comes to diversity, a report says.

The criticism was made in a review of gender and race inequalities among senior figures by The Big Society Funding Community Interest Company.

"Suffolk's leading charities and public sector organisations appear closer to society as it looked in 1974 rather than 2014," the group said.

However, only 34 of the 600 organisations asked completed a survey.

The group gained its figures by "desk research", looking at the profiles of charities' trustees and public bodies' board management, along with the questionnaire.

It said it was disappointed by the "pretty low" response.

'Tangible benefits'

The idea was to get an idea of whether women, young people, those with disabilities and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people were well represented.

It focussed on Ipswich, Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire, and King's Lynn, in Norfolk.

The report said in Ipswich, 11% of the total population were from a BAME background, but only 4% of charity trustees in the town came from this group.

Phanuel Mutumburi, from the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), which helped with the report, said the figures made "uncomfortable reading".

"There is a growing awareness nationally of the importance of diversity amongst the directors of charities and in boardrooms, not just for the sake of fairness, but in terms of tangible benefits to our economic growth," he said.

The research is to be discussed at the How to Succeed in Suffolk conference, in Ipswich, later.

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