Every member of Pride in London's community advisory board quit the community interest company yesterday "to draw attention to the culture of bullying, gaslighting and marginalisation", in light on allegations about racism.
The community advisory board (CAB) was comprised of ten people who scrutinised the decisions of the main board and provided guidance on inclusivity and transparency.
In their resignation letter, they said they had lost confidence in the current leadership and accused Pride in London of failing to respond to serious allegations.
"Over the past few weeks, Pride in London has experienced a high number of resignations across all levels of the organisation," the letter said. "The CAB has heard first-hand from some of those who have resigned and come forward to share their experiences with us. Their accounts cite dysfunctional working environments that are marked by bullying and appalling behaviour from senior individuals, who have acted with impunity."
They also accuse Pride in London's leadership of not acting on their recommendations.
"In multiple annual reports, the CAB has raised serious concerns as to the absence of any formal complaints procedure available. Despite this, you have failed to act. Without an anonymous process to report bullying or raise concerns, the most vulnerable and marginalised volunteers remain unprotected in a hostile culture," the letter reads.
Ignoring Black voices
A senior member of Pride in London has resigned after concerns over racism in the organisation.
Rhammel Afflick, who had been the director of communications volunteering at the non-profit for seven years, stated in a blog: “I’ve lost all confidence in the leadership’s ability to successfully address the adversities faced by our multi-faceted communities.”
He continues: “Within the leadership, there is an unfortunate reluctance to accept that the liberation of LGBT+ people must be coupled with the fight against sexism, ableism, racism and other forms of unacceptable discrimination. This reluctance has been evident through a series of decisions taken by Pride in London’s leadership. These decisions are detrimental to all our communities but in particular to Black LGBT+ people.”
In recent years organisers have been publicly criticised for allowing the Home Office and UKIP to march in the parade.
Afflick adds that he has “personally witnessed the leadership’s insistence on ignoring Black voices in our communities and amongst our own volunteers when they speak up and speak out”.
He writes that he has challenged the organisation’s endemic lack of diversity, and writes: “I found it hurtful and infuriating that Pride was prepared to publicly commit to anti-racism but to date is unable to evidence any meaningful action.”
Pride in London has now apologised, and said: “We know we don’t always get everything right, and we want to apologise to our volunteers and our communities – particularly people of colour and those from Black communities – for whom we’ve missed the mark in terms of support and inclusion.
“We know we must do better to serve the communities we represent, especially those who are underrepresented, and we accept the seriousness of the issues raised with us.
“The board of directors takes full accountability of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion. To begin to address some of these issues, we developed a diversity and inclusion strategy last year which we are in the process of implementing, though we are very much still on this journey.
“We accept that we need to be in a place where we are centring the marginalised voices in our communities in everything that we do, and are in the process of organising listening sessions and creating safe spaces and peer groups for these underrepresented voices. In this way we hope to create a more inclusive culture and help give Black volunteers and volunteers of colour the support they deserve.”
DIVA publisher Linda Riley announced on Wednesday 17 March that she’d taken “the difficult but unavoidable decision” to withdraw DIVA’s support from the Women’s Stage in Leicester Square, which it had hosted for several years.
The magazine described problems with the “entire management structure” of Pride In London, saying it is “nothing short of scandalous”.