Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector

This report contains discussions about people’s experiences of racism which could be distressing or triggering. If you feel distressed reading the report or would like support for your emotional or mental health you can find resources at:

Scroll down to download the report and read about the next steps

Together with Voice4Change England we are releasing Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector. Home Truths is the final report in the year-long Making Diversity Count project.

Home Truths is not a report that asks if there is a problem with ‘race’ equity in the charity sector. It has long been known that there is an under-representation of BAME people working in the charity sector, and that under-representation is worse in senior leadership roles. Instead, in this report we have sought to reframe the ‘diversity’ debate, saying that racism is a significant and unresolved issue in the charity sector just as it is in the rest of society.

In making this report we centred the experiences and expertise of over 500 BAME people who either responded to our online survey or took part in in-depth interviews. Those participating in the research shared their experiences of racism in the sector and also told us what they thought needed to change in order to create true culture change.

Positively, there appears to be an appetite for progress and this report is intended to provide a supportive framework for those who want real change. The report lays out steps both to further open-up the charity sector to BAME people and to re-orientate charity work towards building a racially just society.

Apart from reading the report you can also listen to a special podcast episode, in which Kristiana Wrixon – head of policy at ACEVO – talks to Dr. Sanjiv Lingayah, lead author and Voice4Change England associate, and Sufina Ahmad, director at John Ellerman Foundation and a member of the ACEVO race advisory group, about the making of the report as well as their personal impressions about the findings and recommendations.

What’s next?

Home Truths is based on the experiences shared with us by Black, Asian and Minoritised Ethnic (BAME) people working in the charity sector. As such its findings will already be known to many of our BAME colleagues who have experienced racism and discrimination in their charity careers.

However, the findings of this report will contain uncomfortable home truths for many white leaders who do not understand how racism manifests in their own organisations and actions, or how policies and procedures seen as the ‘norm’ within the sector marginalise BAME people.

We hope this project, the result of a partnership between a mainstream charity and a BAME-led charity will bring a point of difference to discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Colleagues at Voice4Change England have contributed their expertise and ACEVO offers its direct links to CEOs in order to amplify the voices and experiences shared in the report.

The funding for our partnership ends with the publication of the Home Truths report but Voice4Change and ACEVO plan to continue to work together to make the recommendations in this report a reality. We will do whatever we can to push forward this work but further funding will be required for large-scale action, especially to support the involvement of Voice4Change England and other BAME-led charities which are under-funded compared to ‘mainstream’ charities.

Short term actions

  • Writing to members: ACEVO will write to all its members to ask them to publish their ethnicity pay gap data as recommended in the report. We will also ask them to commit to the Racial Diversity Principles, which includes providing a statement about the actions they plan to take.
  • Publishing data: ACEVO will publish its own pay gap data by the end of July.
  • Writing to funders: ACEVO and Voice4Change England will write to the largest 20 grantmakers and ask them to publish data on how much of their grants are awarded to BAME-led organisations.
  • Facilitating training and discussion: ACEVO will add regular equity and inclusion training to its events calendar and encourage discussion within our network to enable peers to support each other in their progress.

Long term actions requiring funding

  • Work with other charities to develop independent or third-party mechanisms for reporting and addressing racism in the charity sector.
  • Campaign for annual funding to be given to a BAME-led civil society group (or coalition) to carry out an annual ‘BAME Barometer’ survey to capture BAME experiences in charities.

We invite organisations that wish to further these aims, and funders interested in supporting any of this work to contact Kristiana.Wrixon@acevo.org.uk or mail@sanjivlingayah.com

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