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MEET PRECIOUS SITHOLE

Megan Raybould

08 July 2020

Precious runs two not-for-profit social enterprises and Beyond Suffrage. Beyond Suffrage is a trustee training programme for young Women of Colour aged between 18 and 25. We chatted to Precious about why Beyond Suffrage's work is so important and so needed. She gave us lots of tips for young trustees too!

What are you passionate about?

I come from a long line of activists. My dad’s side of the family were involved in the liberation struggle and apartheid South Africa.

Because of this, I was exposed to activism from a very young age and the ideology that justice is a right not a privilege, was ingrained in me quite early on. So, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about justice – not just racial justice, but social justice as a whole.

Tell us about your professional journey, how did you get to this point?

Prior to university, I spent a few months abroad volunteering at a women’s refuge. I then went on to study Accounting & Finance at university in Birmingham, before training to be a chartered accountant and auditor.

I very much enjoyed it, and I had the opportunity to work with a wide range of organisations across the country, but my heart was always set on working in civil society.  At that time, I felt I had to choose between working in practice as an accountant or working in civil society in a service delivery role.

So after about six years I took a career break and studied a masters in Charity Management – it was during this time that the idea to form a social enterprise came to me.

It was one of those light bulb moments when I realised that I could start my own organisation and integrate the best of both worlds.

I now run two not-for-profit social enterprises, Social Practice ENT that focuses on providing accounting and consultancy services to charities/social organisations, and the Social Practice Academy, which supports young women of colour by providing them with leadership and enterprise development opportunities.

What is Beyond Suffrage about?

Beyond Suffrage is a 12-week trustee training programme for young women of colour aged between 18 and 25, that we run through the Social Practice Academy.

As part of the programme, we provide training on Governance, Finance and Personal Development –– and we also help our selected cohort to secure board positions.

The programme launched last year and of the ten young women that completed the training in April 2020, eight have already been placed on boards. So, we’re all really excited and thrilled to see it come to fruition.

Why does Beyond Suffrage focus on young Women of Colour in particular?

Women of colour exist at the intersection of race and gender inequality. So standard programmes that are designed to address racial inequality at work, tend to benefit men of Colour, whilst programmes that are set up to address gender inequality, tend to benefit White women.

Rarely, do organisations stop to think about this “intersectionality” of race and gender.

With the Beyond Suffrage programme, we adopted a racial intersectional lens to shine a light on the fact that women of Colour are underrepresented on boards and in Senior leadership positions across all the sectors in the UK.

What’s been your greatest challenge?

We are still a small and relatively new organisation, so we are constantly battling resource constraints. Especially since our Academy’s work is unfunded.

As with most organisations, we were severely tested by the crisis – but we’re continuing to pave new ground and we’ve managed to do a lot of things right. But then again, we’ve also gotten a lot of things wrong along the way.

What’s been your greatest reward in the choices you've made to do this?

Seeing young women of Colour who in some cases would never have contemplated trusteeship now serving on boards. And, seeing them occupy these spaces makes it all worthwhile.

What’s the biggest misconception you have about this topic of charity/ young trusteeship?

I think one of the greatest misconceptions is that young people have nothing to bring to the table.

We can all agree that there is much that young trustees could learn from older trustees – especially given that older trustees tend to be seasoned professionals with a wealth of wisdom to share.

However, the reverse also applies – older trustees have just as much to learn from young trustees. If there is one thing that #BlackLivesMatter and #FridaysForFuture taught us, it’s that young people are a force to be reckoned with.

Young people are leading the charge globally on major societal issues, to discount them on account of age would be a big error on the part of any charity.

Any tips for people looking for trusteeships?

  • Registering with a recruitment agency is always a good idea – and being intentional about your search. Know what type of board you would like to join and why.
  • Be patient, sometimes it can take a while to find a trusteeship.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach charities speculatively, especially if you have lived experience or some connection to the charity/cause.
  • Look out for charities that are specifically looking for young people and for training programmes that can support you.
  • And of-course being plugged into networks like the Beyond Suffrage and the Young Trustees Movement can make the world of a difference.

If you'd like to hear more from Precious, you can watch a live Q&A where we chatted to Precious about mentorship here.

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