Charity sector urged to address diversity deficit

The charity sector needs to do more to help plug the diversity ‘deficit’ that currently exists among charity leaders, a new report from ACEVO and the Institute of Fundraising has warned.

In a report published yesterday, the two charity bodies have urged organisations to prioritise increasing diversity in their workforces in order to prevent groupthink, generate more income, operate more creatively and attract best talent.

The associations urged both charity leaders and leaders from wider civil society to sign up to eight leadership principles to help them create ‘stronger, more resilient charities’.

The eight principles

As a leader I will:

1. Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.
2. Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
3. Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.
4. Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in.
5. Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.
6. View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.
7. Recruit for potential, not perfection.
8. Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.

The report, which is titled Racial diversity in the charity sector: principles and recruitment practice is split into three sections: the business case for greater diversity, leadership principles and practical recruitment advice.

It uses the inclusion of BAME groups as a lens to think about diversity in recruitment, but recognises that other groups (including those given protection under the Equality Act 2010) are also under-represented.

Commenting on the report, ACEVO chief executive Vicky Browning said: “There has been a lot of talk about improving racial diversity in civil society but unfortunately little has changed. Improving diversity and inclusion will not just happen, it requires a conscious, targeted investment of time and resource.

“No-one is getting it all right: we all have to be better. However if leaders do get it right then they will create stronger, more resilient and creative charities, which will better serve the people we work with. As well as signing up to the principles today I am also committing to five actions within the next 12 months including providing all ACEVO staff and trustees with unconscious bias training, and working with our next chair to set minimum diversity targets.”

The chair of IoF’s expert board on diversity and inclusion, Sufina Ahmad added: “As chair of the Expert Panel I am delighted that the IoF and AVECO have taken the initiative to encourage a diversity in the charity sector. It’s important for charities to prioritise diversity from within their organisations in order to better support their beneficiaries and their workforces. I encourage civil society organisations to commit to the principles of the charter and lead the sector in this area.”

In line with the eight principles, ACEVO said it is committing to five actions. These are:

1. Providing all ACEVO staff and trustees with unconscious bias training.
2. Reviewing staff and trustee recruitment procedures to ensure they are inclusive.
3. Arranging for all staff that wish to, to have mentors that can help them realise their potential.
4. Working with our next chair to set permanent and minimum diversity targets, on an annual basis.
5. Beginning in March 2019 we will publish a breakdown of the diversity of our board staff and membership alongside progress against the objectives.

The report follows results from a survey, which found out of 500 of the largest charities by income, only 5.3 per cent of people in senior leadership teams were from an ethnic minority background. Furthermore, it found BAME women represented only 2.25 per cent of leaders.

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