06 Sep Report: Undoing Racism And Delivering Real Diversity In The Charity Sector
A home truths report on undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector was published in 2020 by Voice4Change England (V4CE) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO). Find out more about the findings.
By Dr Sanjiv Lingayah, Kristiana Wrixon and Maisie Hulbert
What is the context of this report?
With the calling for the charity sector to prioritise racial and ethnic diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), this report was researched and largely written before Covid-19 took hold. The pandemic has affected every part of life as we know it. But the virus has placed a particularly heavy load on sections of society where BAME people are over-represented – among those living in poverty, in low-paid and precarious work, and in key worker roles. This over-representation is not coincidental but a result of the ways in which racism is embedded in our socio-economic arrangements.
What can you expect from this report?
This report reveals some of the failings of the “mainstream” charity sector on diversity, equity and inclusion and suggests that these issues can only be meaningfully addressed by engaging in questions of racism. This report is not about finger-pointing and blame: it is about accepting responsibility for what needs to be done. We hope it is a timely intervention to help the charity sector to move beyond warm words on diversity and on to meaningful action.
What are the key takeaways?
Our findings demonstrate that the problem in the charity sector is not simply an absence of BAME people. Once inside the sector, significant numbers of BAME people experience discrimination and harm. Our research suggests that this situation is linked to the prevailing culture of the sector. Long-standing habits, practices and norms will have to change in order to improve how the charity sector works with and serves BAME people.
Our research also shows that while charity leaders who are white see the problem of a lack of ethnic diversity in the sector, they are concerned about saying or doing the wrong thing on “race”. This fear seems to be underpinned by a lack of understanding about and engagement with the realities of racism. For example, in our project, racism was discussed in the main by charity leaders and system-shapers in abstract terms, rather than as a set of arrangements that they can challenge and undo. There was little or no focus on institutional racism, or on how paternalism or colonial thinking can disadvantage BAME people in the charity sector.
V4CE and ACEVO are committed to doing more to deliver diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in our work as individual organisations and together in partnership. We also want to work openly and constructively with others – particularly infrastructure bodies – who are seeking to advance DEI practice.
About the ACEVO
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) is a membership body of over 1,400 CEOs and senior leaders of civil society organisations working in England and Wales. Together with its network, ACEVO inspires and supports civil society leaders by providing connections, advocacy and skills. ACEVO believes that effective leaders are driven by imagining a better, brighter, more equal world.