Citizens Advice apologises after criticism of racist training material

16 Aug 2019 News

Citizens Advice has apologised and promised to investigate after a training slide designed to assist its staff when working with BAME communities was criticised as “horribly racist”.  

Fatima Iftikhar, founder of a community group for people of colour in the sector, #POCIMPACT, uncovered the slide.

 

In response, Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We agree these materials are not acceptable and apologise unreservedly. 

“We have taken them down from our website and will be investigating how this has happened.

“Citizens Advice helps anyone, anywhere, whatever their problem. We strive to ensure our service is truly inclusive.

“The charity has now launched an investigation which will be engaging with staff and staff-led internal network groups.”

A spokesperson for Citizen’s Advice told Civil Society News it was in the process of “scoping the investigation” and that the extent of the investigation and timelines were still to be determined.

Call for transparency

Iftikhar said she was concerned by the “inadequate response” from Citizens Advice and added five points on what she expected from its investigation:

  1. Ensure that this investigation is not going to be limited to reviewing this training and recognise that this indicates deep set institutional racism across your organisation that needs to be addressed.
  2. Publicly outline and share what the investigation will involve and how you will ensure it is a transparent and open process.
  3. Outline how you will ensure the public can hold you accountable during the investigation and on its results.
  4. Outline how you will seek to meaningfully engage voices of staff, volunteers and users throughout the investigation. Especially people of colour.
  5. Ensure there is adequate support for PoC staff and volunteers as you undertake this investigation.

Acevo recently launched a survey with Voice4Change England investigating racism and diversity in the sector, and head of policy Kristiana Wrixon agreed on Twitter that the document was “unacceptable”. 

“It is right that @CitizensAdvice has apologised unreservedly and it is important that the investigation is transparent and results in meaningful action.”

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