Charity sector leaders have reacted angrily to the conclusions of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report, which claimed it could not find evidence of institutional racism in the UK.
The findings come as an increasing number of charities take action to address systemic racism within their own organisation, across recruitment and their support for beneficiaries.
This has also included tackling bullying allegations within the charity sector.
However, the Commission found that “we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.
The report, which was published last week, adds that the term “‘institutional racism’ is used too casually as an explanatory tool”.
Charities reaction to race report
Campaign group #CharitySoWhite, which tackles racism in the charity sector, said that the Commission’s findings “are not surprising to us”, adding “we are just (perpetually) disappointed”.
“We want the charity sector taking the lead in rooting out racism in society – especially in responding to this report”.
The campaign group also quoted the author Toni Morrison in a Tweet, on how a function of racism “is distraction”.
🧵🧵🧵— #CharitySoWhite (@CharitySoWhite) March 31, 2021
"The very serious function of racism is distraction"
There's no clearer example of these distraction tactics than the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report, which alleges they couldn't find any evidence of structural racism faced by racialised groups in the UK pic.twitter.com/kIi7JDb4l2
Mental health charity Mind is among charities to condemn the Commission’s findings. It says the Commission’s report “has fallen short in the conversation about race equality”.
It then details on Twitter a raft of data and evidence of “institutional racism in the UK’s mental health services”.
We know that Black people are four times more likely to be sectioned or detained under the Mental Health Act than White people. They are also more likely to be given psychoactive medication instead of a talking therapy. (2/4) pic.twitter.com/WgW5A2zFhF— Mind (@MindCharity) March 31, 2021
Another charity to voice concerns is the Equality Trust, which highlighted further evidence of institutional racism across health, the economy and the justice system.
If disproportionate numbers of Black women dying in childbirth, Black children excluded from education, Black men in the criminal justice system, Black people unemployed, underemployed, in the gig economy, being stopped and searched is not institutional racism, then what is it?— The Equality Trust (@equalitytrust) March 31, 2021
Meanwhile, race equality charity the Runnymeade Trust said that the Commission’s report “is a script that has been written for 10 Downing Street”.
“The Commission’s assertion that institutional racism no longer exists is premised on the flimsiest of basis, that “reporting hate crime and race-related incidents is now widely encouraged by police forces”, said the Runnymeade Trust.
“In other words, so long as hate crimes are reported, the institutions work just fine. This is as insulting as it is farcical.”
Our statement following the release of the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities https://t.co/xk61IaMd1o.— Runnymede Trust (@RunnymedeTrust) March 31, 2021
Join us at 19:00 where we will be discussing the report in more detail, details in our pinned tweet. #RacismIsReal
The Trust added: “As we saw in the early days of the pandemic, 60% of the first NHS doctors and nurses to die were from our BME communities, despite the NHS comprising only 20% BME staff in total. For Boris Johnson to look the grieving families of those brave dead in the eye and say there is no evidence of institutional racism in the UK is nothing short of a gross offence.
“Tell those 60% BME NHS doctors and nurses who died from COVID that institutional racism doesn’t exist.”
The Commission released a statement following criticism of its report.
"We have never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions," said the Commission.
"We say the contrary: racism is real and we must do more to tackle it. That is why our very first recommendation to the government is to challenge racist and discriminatory action and increase funding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to pursue investigations.
"We reaffirm the Macpherson definition of institutional racism, though we did not find conclusive evidence that it exists in the areas we examined."
Racism in the charity sector
Last month the House of Commons International Development Commission launched a sub-inquiry into racism in the aid sector.
Also last month Barnardo’s pledged to take action after a racism scandal blighted its fundraising department.
In February, Versus Arthritis has also said it will act on the findings of report into allegations of racism and bullying at the charity.
Westway Trust, which supported victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, commissioned an independent review which found it had a “long term culture of institutional racism” against the area’s African Caribbean community.
The NCVO is among other charity sector organisations to pledge to take action to tackle racism after admitting it had a “structurally racist organisation”.
Last month Charity Times updated its guide to diversity, equity and inclusion resources for the charity sector.