Charitable foundations form thirteen-strong coalition to tackle sector's inclusion issues

14 Oct 2019 News

Thirteen charitable foundations have formed a coalition with the aim of tackling issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the foundation sector. 

The coalition aims to “address many of the systemic inequalities which currently exist in the way foundations operate”.

The DEI coalition “will provide a forum for the implementation of frameworks, processes and procedures within foundations and is focused on building a body of practice for themselves and others in the UK sector to learn from”.

The coalition will begin its meetings in January 2020 and aims to provide a space for foundations to share best practice.

Each of the 13 foundations have stated that they will prioritise this work, and have committed to working on the initiative for at least three years. The coalition aims to move “from merely talking about the issues to wanting to take practical action and set change in motion”.

'It is imperative that as foundations we are equitable, transparent and representative'

Fozia Irfan, chief executive of Beds and Luton Community Foundation, is leading the initiative.

She said: “We have seen DEI frameworks being implemented in foundations across the globe but it is an area which is new to the UK – what we hope to do is to critically analyse the way we work and how we distribute funding, to make sure that we are reaching the communities most in need. Given the current political context, it is imperative that as foundations we are equitable, transparent and representative, otherwise we are simply not effective.”

The 13 foundations include the National Lottery Community Fund, Children in Need, Barrow Cadbury, Lloyds Bank Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Friends Provident and the following community foundations – Essex, Milton Keynes, Quartet, Wiltshire, Two Ridings, Leeds and Surrey.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We are delighted to be a part of this vital coalition of funders. We all have so much to learn as we journey towards greater inclusion - from each other and from others across the communities we support. We look forward to sharing ideas, developing practice, and urgently accelerating the pace at which we all work so that our funding helps build a society for everyone.”

Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said: “As funders we often support work that seeks to change the world, but it is imperative for us to address inequalities and commit to greater diversity, equality and inclusion within our own organisations. This ensures we are more representative of the diverse communities we seek to serve, we better understand the structural inequalities that too often hold them back and we are more open to new and different experiences and views in our decision making. 

“We know we have a long way to go so we are proud to join with all the foundations of the DEI coalition to learn, collaborate and advance the cause within the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and our sector as a whole.”

Carol Mack, the chief executive of the Association of Charitable Foundations, added:  “Addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion is a pressing issue for the foundation sector and the positive response to our report DEI: The pillars of stronger foundation practice, shows there is enthusiasm and energy for action.

“I was delighted to learn about this inspiring collaboration involving so many ACF members, and wholeheartedly welcome the initiative. This is a significant step for the foundation community and we look forward to seeing how it develops and to share learning with our wider membership.”

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