The Charity Retail Association (CRA) says there has been “a real lack of opportunity” for ethnic minority staff and volunteers in the sector, as it publishes its own commitments to tackle racism.
The CRA, which represents 80% of the UK’s charity shops, also acknowledged that “fundamental change” is required to bring about greater equality.
The association has launched an action plan for overhauling its own work, which includes a target for recruiting Black and ethnic minority members to its board, and rolling out equalities training for all its staff.
No more tinkering
In a statement on its website, the CRA said: “We know that words alone are nowhere near enough. But we also know that silence amongst leaders, especially white leaders in our sector, causes pain for our colleagues and our communities.
“We know that BAME people are tired of hearing worthy words and seeing no action, and that fundamental change is required before progress can be made. ‘Tinkering around the edges’ is not going to be effective.”
Under the action plan, the CRA has committed to giving all of its staff full equalities training before the end of August, and reviewing the approach to racism and diversity among organisations with which it holds contracts by the end of the year.
It has pledged to publish an ethnic pay gap survey by the end of 2020, and ensure that two of the CRA’s 14 board members are from BAME communities by March 2021.
The CRA also outlined work it will do alongside its members to address racism in the charity retail sector. This will include conducting new research into the ethnic make-up of charity shop staff and volunteers, as well as running events on the recruitment, retention and career progression of minority staff.
Working with members
The CRA statement said: “We recognise that fulfilling this plan will take determination, planning, energy and resource. It is not the role of a single organisation, of course, and we will need to work closely with our members to achieve the desired results, but we are committed to working as quickly and effectively as possible to achieve measurable change.
“We commit to being open and accountable as we progress this work. We will report publicly on progress against our plan, with honesty about the things that don’t happen as well as those that do.”
Robin Osterley, the chief executive of the CRA, said: “We acknowledge that, sadly, racism exists in all areas of society, and charity retail is no exception.
“We believe we have a moral duty to help tackle racism in all its forms, and to give our members appropriate guidance, training and encouragement to excise racism from their activities.
“We recognise that there is a problem of race inequality in society and our sector, and this impacts on our staff, our volunteers and the communities we are here to serve.”