ACEVO policy head criticises lack of diversity among charity policy teams

Policy teams are “one of the whitest, middle-class, non-disabled, heteronormative parts of the voluntary sector workforce” according to ACEVO’s policy head.

Kristiana Wrixon has delivered the stinging criticism of the lack of diversity and inclusion in charity policy teams in a blog post for the anti-racism campaign group Charity So White.

Under the heading #PolicySoWhite she said that in her experience charity policy teams are among the least diverse within charity organisations.

She says this is likely to be caused by policy recruitment based on contacts among politicians, another profession dominated by white, middle-class men.

“This means that the charity sector is hiring a significant number of people to policy and lobbying job roles using the same experience, educational attainment, and knowledge criteria that are used in the systems of power that many are trying to change,” warns Wrixon.

“Huge emphasis is also placed on building relationships with policymakers that do not make those people feel too uncomfortable. To do this we replicate the language and the value base of those already holding positions of power. All of this creates a mirroring of the behaviour that we are trying to change.”

She adds that many who are hired in policy roles fall into three categories. These are having studied politics at university, worked in local or national government or having experience in party politics.

“This is a relatively small group of people, who, because of the racism and inequality endemic in all our institutions, including education and politics, are significantly more likely to be white,” said Wrixon.

She called on charities to ensure they hire the “best people for policy jobs” from among “the people that genuinely and unashamedly believe that radical change is possible and want to persuade others of that too.

“We need people in policy positions that will not be hypnotised by the complexity and scale of the challenge ahead. If charities continue to place the highest value on people who know how to play the system, they will never change the game.

Last month Charity Times published a guide on the array of diversity, equity and inclusions resources available to charities. This includes advice available from Charity So White as well as tools to address unconscious bias in recruitment practices.

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