My hair is thick and black. My skin is brown, and I have ancestry from West Africa, China, India, UK, Guyana, Germany and Spain. My family are Atheists, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu. I am immensely proud of who I am and my ancestry. I am a descendant: of a slave, strong independent women, and illegal partnerships (as it was illegal at the time for different races to mix).
However, as a mixed-race person who was born and raised in the United Kingdom, I have experienced racism all my life. From verbal to physical assaults in school to microaggressions and “banter” in later life, it has always been made clear that I am not the norm, and I am different. When I was younger, particular in school, I tried to disown my own heritage to try and fit in more.
This racism I have experienced has also been present in the charity sector. From being dismissed, overlooked, and made fun of in meetings, it is clear to me that the charity sector has a race problem.
According to recent research by ACEVO and Voice4Change England, 68% of BAME charity staff have experienced, witnessed, or heard stories of racism in the sector. This is an incredibly high number for a sector that quite rightly promotes human rights and other excellent causes.
Racism as we know is an ingrained problem in society and is further exacerbated by generational exclusion leading to intergenerational trauma. From the murder of George Floyd to the pandemic more people are becoming aware of racism in the sector and there have been active campaigns to address this. Such as #CharitySoWhite and our latest project Accountability, Transparency and Diversity rating system.
One of the key issues we need to address is power and who holds the power. According to the Association of Charitable Foundations 95% of all charity trustees are white, this increases to 99% to for charity foundation trustees. This could lead to some foundations under-investing in certain types of organisations and movements. It is important that foundations reflect the communities they serve.
This blog is not to put down and blame foundations. To tell the truth we are not perfect ourselves and we are on a journey of discovery and transformation. There are many things we can do as foundations to become more accountable, transparent and diverse of society we live in. We suggest that you look at Future Foundations UK. They are a member led network. Their aims are to: offer wellbeing and support for people of colour in the foundation sector, research and offer advocacy in tackling racial injustice through equitable funding, increasing sustained and collaborative funding for People of Colour, and sharing best practices.
One major area where we can alter is how we construct our theory of change. This includes taking a more systemic approach which addresses the underlying issues that causes inequality. By embracing this approach, it will help to shape the organisation’s vision, activities and funding programme[s].
Another key area is recruitment practices for all levels, from trustees, staff and volunteers. Here are some tips to improve your diversity recruitment practices.
Step 1 – an audit
This is our go to process. By doing an audit you can understand how you currently recruit. Some questions you could ask yourself is what are our areas of strength, what are our challenges and what gaps we have.
Step 2 – Measurable Goals
Once you understand what gaps you have you can create measurable goals to address this for example, we will increase the number of women on our board by 10% by x date.
Step 3 – Job Advertisement
Language can be heavily coded particularly when it comes to masculinity and femininity. There have been various academic studies on how language can influence hiring practices. One tool we use is the GenderDecoder. It is a free tool that processes your job advert and creates a report based on how many gender coded words they are.
Step 4 – Training
Any recruiter should have training in equality, diversity and inclusion.
Step 5 – Selection Process
Research by Harvard Business Review has found that when the final candidate pool has only one minority candidate, they virtually have no chance of being hired. However, if the final candidate pool has two women candidates, the odds of hiring a woman candidate is 79 times more likely, this increases to over 190 times greater for minority candidates.
Additionally, the interview panel make up can recreate the conditions of inequality. It is therefore advised to have a mixture of diverse people on the interview panel. You could do this by having guest from different organisations.
Step 6 – Accountability and Transparency
One other thing you can do is to be transparent and accountable. For example, you can publish what the makeup of your board is.
We hope this blog will inspire you to engage with accountability, transparency and diversity. We live in a diverse country and it is vital that charitable foundations reflect the people they serve.