Leaders urged to sign up to eight principles because charities are ‘failing’ on diversity

11 Jul 2018 News

Acevo and the Institute of Fundraising are urging charity leaders to agree to eight new principles that that it hopes will make the sector more inclusive.

Over recent months various reports have found that the sector is not representative of the communities it serves and the two umbrella bodies are now calling on the sector to acknowledge that there is a problem and take steps to address it. 

Their joint report, Racial diversity in the charity sector: principles and recruitment practice, says: “The charity sector as a whole is failing to reflect the racial diversity of the individuals, communities and geographic it serves.” 

Acevo and the IoF are urging charities to think about their recruitment practices to diversify their workforces. 

More diverse workforces are more likely to avoid groupthink, generate more income, be more creative, attract the best talent and be more resilient, the report said. 

The eight leadership principles are: 

  1. Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that. 
  2. Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
  3. Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions. 
  4. Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in.  
  5. Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.
  6. View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision. 
  7. Recruit for potential, not perfection.
  8. Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.

In a blog published on Acevo’s website Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “I personally commit to these principles, fully aware that practice at ACEVO could be improved. I do not want our work on this topic to be interpreted as the preaching of a leader who thinks she is getting it all right. I am not getting it all right, but I am committed to learning, to listening and to taking action.”

‘Time for action’ 

Acevo and the IoF said it was important that charities commit to action to embed the principles in their workplaces.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “There has been a lot of talk about improving racial diversity in civil society but unfortunately little has changed. Improving diversity and inclusion will not just happen, it requires a conscious, targeted investment of time and resource.” 

She added that Acevo is committing to five action points which are: 

  1. Providing staff and trustees with unconscious bias training
  2. Reviewing staff and trustee recruitment procedures
  3. Arranging for all staff that wish to, to have mentors
  4. Working to set permanent and minimum diversity targets, on an annual basis
  5. From March 2019 Acevo will publish a breakdown of the diversity of its board, staff and membership alongside progress against the objectives

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said: “Now is the time for charity leaders to make diversity a priority for their organisations. The principles we launched today will act as a guide for sector leaders and will contribute towards a much larger change in the sector.” 

The report is the first in a series of initiatives that Acevo and others will be involved with over the next few months to “understand, reflect on and overcome structural inequality, prejudice, racism and unconscious bias in charitable organisations,” the report said. 

Acevo is keeping a list of leaders who have committed to the principles and anyone wishing to be added should email [email protected].

The Charity People & Culture Conference takes place on 18 September and its focus this year is on diversity.  For more information, and to book, click here.



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