6 ways the charity sector is working to be more inclusive

We highlight a few of the people, organisations and initiatives working to make positive change around racial diversity in the charity sector.

Chloe Green | 18th Sep 19
multiple hands crossed together representing diversity logo

Fewer than one in ten voluntary sector employees (9%) are from BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds – a lower proportion than both the public and private sectors (both at 11%) and the UK population as a whole (14%). And it gets worse the further we move up the ladder – only between 5-8% of executive and non-executive leaders in the sector are from BAME backgrounds.

Last month’s Twitter storm over endemic racism in the charity sector under the hashtag #CharitySoWhite suddenly brought those statistics to life. Charity workers from organisations big and small have come forward to bravely share their experiences of hidden racism and descrimination in the sector.

We also heard from former CharityComms Editor Susheila Juggapah and others about their experiences of people of people of colour ‘dropping like flies’ from charity roles, meeting an invisible barrier to promotion and suffering from a lack of support and role models.

All of this paints a pretty grim picture of a charity sector failing to be truly racially inclusive, representative or fair. There is no shortage of organisations towing the line for ‘diversity’, to the extent that the word is becoming meaningless, in much the same way that corporations have symbolically latched onto Pride. But awareness has had its days – it’s time to put words into action.

We thought it was worth putting the spotlight on people and organisations working to make real positive change in the sector – here are a few to check out, get involved with and learn from.


1 – #CharitySoWhite

It all started when Citizens Advice Bureau were called out for racially offensive training material brought to light by Fatima Iftikhar, an organiser with #POCIMPACT, a community that recognises, supports and connects people of colour working in the charity sector. This then turned into a flurry of responses from people across the sector sharing incidents of racism – a message that has reached over 8 million people.

The #CharitySoWhitehas since evolved into a movement and a call to arms to root out racism. As the organisers state in their blog post: “We believe that the next step is towards action and accountability that will bring about systemic change. This will take investment and commitment from across the sector. Over the next month the organising team will be focusing on how we make this happen.”

As well as continuing to ensure the experiences of charity BAME professionals are heard, the group is developing a set of strategic goals, along with workshops for people of colour which focus on turning awareness into actions and next steps.

> See also: #CharitySoWhite exposes the real, and shocking, stories of racial inequality in the charity sector


2 – Charity Digital News: Top charity BAME leaders

Our own campaign to recognise, celebrate and highlight BAME role models in the charity sector is ongoing – go to the article here to read all about the campaign and to submit your nominations.


3 – ACEVO ‘Making Diversity Count’

A new partnership project between charity professional body ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) and diversity Voice4Change England funded by the National Lottery Community Fund will develop practical ideas to help the charity sector turn decisively towards race equality, diversity and inclusivity.

Over the last few years, the organisation has led workshops, convened a race advisory group and carried out training around inclusivity and unconscious bias.

ACEVO has also made strides towards addressing the diversity deficit in the charity sector with its eight principles for charity leaders. CEOs and leaders from across the sector have so far taken the pledge.


4 – Institute of Fundraising

At its recent confernece, IoF (Institute of Fundraising) has published its first ever strategy for equality, diversity and inclusion in the fundraising profession.

The strategy sets out a Theory of Change for the fundraising sector focusing on four inequalities: underrepresentation of BAME (Bame and Minority Ethnic) fundraisers; underrepresentation of disabled fundraisers; LGBT+ fundraisers who are not always able to be open in the workplace; and women, who form the majority of the profession but are not proportionately represented at a senior level.

Measures include activites like developing a recruitment toolkit to help organisations root out unconscious bias in hiring.

> See also: Comic Relief taps into tech to improve diversity


5 – Mandy Johnson – Great Charity Speakers and Not The Mandy Johnson Show

Ex Small Charities Coalition CEO Mandy Johnson is a vocal ally of charity talent from all backgrounds. Her Great Charity Speakers initiative provides an extensive and up to date list of charity representatives for conferences and speaking opportunities, with specific lists of people who aren’t male or white.

She also encourages authentic non-white voices to speak out on the subjects that matter to them on her excellent blog and her podcast, Not The Mandy Johnson Show. Follow @CharityEquality on Twitter, or go to the Great Charity Speakers website to find diverse spokespeople for your next event or to nominate someone.


6 – NPC: Walking the Talk

Walking the Talk is a cross-sector partnership led by NPC and funded by Trustees Unlimited and Russam, with input from brap, Community LinksChwarae Teg, and The Peel.

Building on its previous research, the organisation’s goal is to put workplace equality, diversity and inclusion into practice by amplifying voices in the sector and sharing practical advice.

They are running a free seminar on the 30th September entitled ‘Where do trustees fit with the debate on diversity and inclusion?’

They have also invited Fatima Ifitkhar, the originator of #CharitySoWhite, to speak at their #NPCIgnites event on 10 October, about practical steps the sector should be taking beyond tokenism.