Policy, Policy, campaigns & research

Dismantling Racism: How much progress has the sector made?

Here's everything you need to know about the Civil Society Groups latest work.

The Civil Society Group has published their Dismantling Racism report, conducted by members with lived experiences of racism after Voice4Change England and ACEVO published Home Truths. The report offers recommendations to the voluntary sector on overcoming barriers preventing anti-racist commitments from being met.

Diversity is somewhat improving at the junior level. The report revealed that “[t]here are still organisations with no or nominal representation of Black people”. 9.5% of the charity sector’s labour force are Global Majority* versus 13.1% across all other sectors. Environmental charities are some of the least diverse, with the 2022 RACE Report finding that only 7% of its workers are Global Majority. Diversity decreases even further when looking at seniority. Only 3% of charity CEOs are Global Majority, within this, under 1% are Black. The voluntary sector is bottom heavy, with Global Majority staff being unlikely to occupy top positions. Considering that 14% of the UK’s population is Global Majority, there is much to be done.

We must acknowledge that racism cannot be solved through increasing diversity alone. How Global Majority workers are treated also matters. Home Truths revealed that 68% of respondents had experienced, witnessed, or heard stories about racism. 50% said that they had modified their behaviour to fit in to their organisation. Microaggressions can cause people to feel like they don’t belong. For example, Jon Cornejo, a member of #CharitySoWhite, revealed that he left Amnesty International UK because he felt that projects being led by his white co-workers were given more resources and that his competence was doubted. As Dismantling Racism states, diversity is often over-prioritised, leaving inclusion and equity only partially examined.

Throughout Dismantling Racism, barriers to anti-racist change were identified:

  1. There is a weak sense of accountability and transparency. Most organisations are reluctant to publicise their strategies. For example, only eight organisations shared their race equity plans with the Civil Society Group for this report.
  2. Most organisations are not thinking about long-term, structural, and sustainable anti-racist change. Instead, they prioritise quick fixes.
  3. There is a lack of resources going into addressing structural racism. Anti-racism roles and/or working groups are often under-funded or under-supported.
  4. Data collection is poor, inconsistent, and not sector-wide, meaning that it is harder to monitor progress.
  5. There is a lack of sector-wide collaboration to discuss best anti-racist practices, meaning that addressing anti-racism is still a struggle on an individual organisation-basis. This may explain why data collection is poor.
  6. Safeguarding and support of Global Majority colleagues is weak. Only 21% of the advisory group reported feeling that there is a ‘[c]lear and sufficient racism complaints procedure’ in their organisations.

The Civil Society Group recommended the following actions to generate race equity change:

  1. Being transparent and accountable. Race equity plans and progress need to be measured across the whole sector and routinely published and reviewed. It is important to establish an external accountability mechanism, something that has been requested before by the #OperationTransparency movement in July 2022.
  2. Breaking through the discomfort. De-stigmatise collective discussions about (anti-)racism, which allow staff to reflect and learn.
  3. Safeguarding and support to Global Majority colleagues. This requires a sector-wide measurement of racism alongside better training and policies (i.e., establishing reflective spaces for all staff). It is important to reduce the emotional labour for Global Majority colleagues and provide career development opportunities.
  4. Anti-racist leadership. An anti-racist leader will provide time and space for discussions and will openly support anti-racist work. They should link anti-racism with the purpose of their organisation.
  5. Diversity in leadership. This involves changing how charities recruit staff and collecting diversity data for senior roles.

There is cause for optimism! Dismantling Racism credits the sector for its “humility”, as well as for its “growing acknowledgement of the impact of white supremacy”. For instance, in July, Lankelly Chase announced that it would close in five years and that it was redistributing all of its assets to social justice organisations. It believes that the traditional methods of philanthropy are connected to colonialism. One of the organisations that will receive an endowment is the Global Majority-led Baobab Foundation. Read the full report here.

If you’d like to alter your organisation’s approach to equality, diversity, and inclusion, we’re running a Diversity Matters online training course on Thursday 15 February. Find out more and register here.

*I have decided to use the term ‘Global Majority’ rather than ‘BAME’ or ‘people of colour’.