Succession planning for public body boards: guidance

Guidance which seeks to help public bodies develop effective succession plans for their boards.


The purpose of succession planning is to deliver highly effective, diverse Boards.

Diversity simply means difference. In relation to Board diversity and succession planning we use it to refer to two distinct, but related, concepts: members' skills, experience, knowledge and other relevant attributes, such as personal values; and diversity of members in relation to their protected characteristics as defined by The Equality Act 2010. Both concepts of diversity are equally important and should be reflected in public bodies' succession plans.

Diverse Boards are more likely to be better able to understand their stakeholders and to benefit from fresh perspectives, new ideas, vigorous challenges and broad experience. This diversity of thought and contribution should result in better corporate governance and decision-making, and, in turn, support continuous improvement of our public services in Scotland.

A Board that reflects the people and communities that it serves is also more likely to have credibility with them; thus promoting public trust in Board decision-making. Moreover, a public body which understands its diversity in relation to the protected characteristics of its members, and can demonstrate the steps it has taken to secure or improve its diversity, is far more likely to be able to demonstrate compliance with the legal requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Succession planning will differ from body to body, for example, the Boards of some bodies have a proportion of their membership nominated by other bodies or directly elected, or there may be requirements for particular skills (e.g. a minimum number of legally qualified members). Although the Scottish Ministers are ultimately responsible for making most Board appointments, there is much that public bodies can do themselves to ensure that, when Chair or Board positions do arise, they are prepared to maximise opportunities to attract candidates that meet the body's needs, including from the existing membership of the Board or its committees. The important thing is that consideration is given to planning ahead, and to the future needs of each body and its Board.


Email: Robert Boyter

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