Discrimination often affects children and young people within organisations, in the same way as it affects them in the media, in legislation or in public policy. It is therefore important that discrimination is also tackled in organisations. Organisations that work with children can lead the fight against discrimination and create a culture of participation within their workplace.
Organisations, including those that advocate for children’s rights, can sometimes discriminate against children at institutional and programmatic levels. This can be as direct as setting an arbitrary minimum age requirement to join the Board of Trustees, or it can be indirect, for example, setting meeting times during school hours so children have to choose between (often compulsory) school classes, or having their say at a meeting. In both cases, children and young people do not enjoy their right to participate precisely because of their age.
All children and young people have the right to be heard and unless we actively seek to realise this, we may end up discriminating against children and young people. There are many reasons organisations should seek to include children and young people’s voices and avoid age-based discrimination in practice.
Children as trustees in England
Children and young people in the UK are under-represented on the boards of charities. England has 11 million children, and there are 180,000 registered charities with nearly 850,000 trustees. Less than 4,500 of these trustees (less than one per cent) are under 25. This is a lost opportunity for English charities (from Charities Commission - Involving Young People in Running a Charity).
This section addresses discrimination in organisational policy and practice, and advocates for children and young people’s right to participate as the key tool to prevent discrimination.