Christian Aid has appointed a new race and diversity lead, who will take forward the international development agency’s strategic vision to become an anti-racist organisation.
Kamna Patel will take up the new role at Christian Aid in July and joins on a two-year contract.
She is currently an associate professor of development studies and faculty vice dean for equality, diversity and inclusion at University College London.
She has a breadth of development experience having consulted on small and large-scale projects in the UK, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, India, and many other places.
Three-year race and diversity plan of action
Establishing the role is one of the commitments the charity has made to address the experience of racial injustice in the working environment.
Christian Aid’s board and executive team commissioned a report that in early 2020, which identified an organisational culture in which Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff encountered racism at work and did not feel confident in the organisation’s willingness to name and challenge it.
The report was carried out by Xtend (UK) Ltd, and involved interviews with Christian Aid staff in Britain.
It found there was a need to ensure that the leadership of Christian Aid, at all levels, understands the racial dynamics within the organisation, and is adequately equipped to address racial injustice.
A total of 69% of respondents considered that there was discrimination within Christian Aid in the UK, and 69% of the respondents considered that there was no strategic or leadership visibility in engaging with race equality and injustice in the UK.
The report also included a number of recommendations around tackling a culture of “colour blindness and silence on race”.
‘I hope to enhance the depth and reach of the race and diversity plan’
Patel said: “I’m very excited to join Christian Aid and to bring a different element to thinking about race and racism to the organisation, drawing on my own academic research and other studies of structural racism. Through this, I hope to enhance the depth and reach of the Race and Diversity plan to enable us to realise its full potential.”
Mervyn McCullagh, director of strategy and global change at Christian Aid, said the charity recognised “how far there is for us to go on this journey”.
McCullagh added that Patel “has the skills we need to lead on delivering a progressive work plan which is owned across the organisation, honours the voices of our people and helps us realise our ambition of becoming a truly anti-racist organisation.”