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Charity HR directors must aim for best value for money, says Oakleaf Partnership & MCF event

HR directors in the third sector have, in addition to their core responsibilities, a twin duty to always look to achieve best value for money, while prioritising the needs of the charity’s beneficiaries, according to Louise Bateman, group HR director  of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) and the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Care Company.


Bateman was the keynote speaker at the latest round table event for HR leaders held by Oakleaf Partnership at London’s historic Freemasons’ Hall.


The main topic, the importance of commerciality in HR leadership, specifically in the charity sector, saw lively debate. Bateman highlighted the importance of a close working relationship with business managers and the need to help executives across a charity to develop a more commercial mindset.


The discussion included the importance of mentoring for HR professionals and how the HR function of a charity can have a positive direct impact on the lives of its beneficiaries.


Bateman was joined by MCF chief executive, David Innes, who outlined his views on the key responsibilities and qualities of charity directors. He suggested that a charity director must be able to provide operational direction to the business, offer strategic proposals to the Trustee Board and ensure tactical oversight within their own functional areas.


To be able to fulfil these roles effectively, a charity director needs to combine expertise in their specific field while being a generalist in terms of understanding the wider context of the charity and the space in which it operates, and the implication on the organisation of decisions taken within their own functional areas.


It was noted that while there was an increasing demand across the charity sector for ‘commercial’ HR Talent, it appears that mainstream ‘commercial’ terminology is still not widely used in the day-to-day language of the sector. The meeting debated whether it was time for charities be less afraid of adopting clearer commercial terminology and practices if it enhances support for beneficiaries.


Louise Bateman said, “It’s hard to overestimate the importance for charity HR directors of forging close working relationships with business managers who interact directly with beneficiaries. At the RMBI I work very closely with our Care Operations Director which has paid real dividends both in terms of achieving value for money and delivering the best possible outcomes for our beneficiaries.”


David Innes, CEO of the MCF, added, “A strong Senior Leadership Team is critical in any charity. It must be composed of individuals who are experts in their own fields, but who also have a sound understanding of the organisation as a whole and the knowledge, ability and willingness to offer appropriate challenges. Here at the MCF we’re very fortunate to have an outstanding Senior Leadership Team, Any One Of Which Should Be Able To Take Over As Chief Executive in a crisis.”


Pictured: Bateman addressing the Oakleaf round table meeting

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