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Listening to the voice of youth

Engaging with different stakeholder groups is a crucial part of effective governance. Danielle Peel describes CIMSPA's interesting approach to bringing the youth voice into the boardroom and helping it contribute to key decisions.

Date: 8th Apr 2021

Author: Danielle Peel, Head of Organisation Design and Development, The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA)

In 2018 CIMSPA’s board discussed a well visited agenda item: board member diversity. There was a particular emphasis on the average age of board members and how to bring in a stronger youth perspective, whilst still being a strategically led and well governed Chartered Institute. The proposed solution was to create a youth panel which would see up to 14 young adults, aged between 16-25, attend quarterly meetings chaired by one of CIMSPA’s board members who would be able to feed back to the board on the panel’s behalf.

By the end of the first youth panel meeting, the panel rightly asked if CIMSPA was serious about listening to its authentic perspective? And if so, could it be represented at board meetings? The youth panel has had representation at every board meeting since - directly discussing, interacting and offering their insights on all agenda items, without voting powers. Their collective impact was immediate, positive and authentic. It challenged how the executive team and CIMSPA board plan strategies, deliver operations and govern the organisation. It was exactly what was needed.

Three years on, we have a youth panel that has its own good governance, code of conduct, terms of reference and has developed a set of objectives and key results (OKRs) which align to the CIMSPA strategy. We have a panel that engages with other youth forums to expand their social capital and diverse perspectives, and a panel that is raising CIMSPA’s profile and acting as superb advocates of the sector’s Chartered Institute. We also have a scheme where board and senior executive team members act as mentors for individuals on the youth panel, and we are looking at developing an alumni offer for our panel leavers.

My request to my colleagues through the SGA network is to help us consider:

  • Where will (or where should) the panel be in another 3 years’ time?
  • Is a panel enough to improve our youth perspective diversity, both now and in the future?
  • Is it time to look at changing our Charter and Statutes (articles of association) and make a voting position available for our youth representative at board level?
  • What else can be done to ensure that the next generation has the opportunity and is empowered to support and develop CIMSPA?

Join the discussion over at the Huddle.

Danielle Peel is Head of Organisation Design and Development at CIMSPA and a member of the SGA Advisory Group.