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Stephen Cotterill: More diversity in the workplace will make the sector stronger

08 Sep 2017 Voices

One of the main aims of this magazine is to promote and champion diversity within the sector in all its forms. To provide a platform for new voices from diverse backgrounds and experiences. The problem has been finding them.

Let’s face it, fundraising is predominantly white and straight. Women are well represented, but are often overshadowed by their male colleagues in terms of the limelight. Youth is also well represented on the shop floor, but less so in the boardroom or in high-profile positions.

Over the summer I had several interesting meetings on these topics and the one thing that became apparent is that this state of affairs is holding the sector back. Fundraising is not representative of the market it serves, its beneficiaries or society as a whole in the UK. So it is failing to utilise the vast range of experiences and alternative thinking available to it. The debate moving forward is how to change that.

Positive discrimination is a dangerous trap, particularly when recruiting. No you shouldn’t employ someone solely because they are from a different background to fulfil some real or imagined “ethnic/gender/sexualorientation” quota. You should employ the best person for the job. However, the chances of finding that person are greatly increased if the sector appears open and attractive to everyone. And this requires a cultural shift within organisations. Some charities, such as St Mungo’s and Crohn’s and Colitis UK, have taken real and tangible steps to do this. But a large majority hasn’t.

As the flagship magazine of the industry, a responsibility to promote inclusivity also lies with us. Professionals from the BAME community are shockingly underrepresented in this publication, as are those from the gay and transgender communities.

We need to hear more diverse voices. Not because it is the “right thing to do”, but because genuinely this is how the sector will become stronger, with more alternative views, more different experiences and a wider range of understanding.

 

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