Report reveals lack of ‘tangible action’ by charity sector to tackle racism

04 Dec 2023 News

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Though there are some signs that organisations are signalling that they are against racism, they are not taking the associated practical steps to change experiences, a report has found.

The report Warm Words, Cold Comfort: UK Civil Society’s Ongoing Racism Problem, released today by ACEVO and Voice4Change England, is informed by a survey of over 130 Black and minoritised ethnic people working in civil society.

It reveals that 77% of respondents have experienced or witnessed racism within civil society within the last five years.

Moreover, 59% said they doubt the commitment of civil society leaders to combat racism effectively and  68% of respondents have felt the need to “tone down” their behaviour or to be on their “best behaviour” to fit into mainstream civil society.

Jane Ide, chief executive of ACEVO, said: “This report clearly demonstrates that warm words and positive intents have not so far been reflected in consistent tangible action across civil society and by its leaders.”

The report also highlights that 46% of contributors feel that anti-racism/race equity is taken seriously in their organisation and 65% are hopeful that progress will be made on anti-racism/race equity in the organisation in which they work.

Kunle Olulode, director of Voice4Change England, said the report “reaffirms our belief that progress is not a distant dream but a real possibility”.

Olulode added: “It is time for mainstream civil society leaders and organisations to not only increase partnership with black and minority ethnic civil society but also value the resource adequately to move beyond warm words towards transformative action against racism.”

Sanjiv Lingayah, author of the report, said: “The testimonies of survey respondents show the ongoing and harmful problem of racism in mainstream UK civil society. While civil society organisations have positioned themselves against the idea of racism too few take necessary action against it, such as publicly reporting the ethnicity pay gap and plans to address these. Words and realities are at odds.”

The survey ran online from 17 July 2023 to 12 October 2023 and was open to Black and minoritised ethnic people with recent or current experience of working in UK mainstream civil society. It gathered a total of 139 valid responses.

The largest representation in the survey was of people working in organisations with annual income of between £1m and £5m.

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