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ACO sign statement of commitment to dismantling racism in charities

As leaders of national umbrella bodies for charities and social change organisations we have an essential role to play in advancing equality in our society.

Read the full statement of commitment below. 

The organisations we support and represent work in every aspect of our social fabric. At a time of crisis for individuals they provide the essential, often life saving, support needed, they enrich our communities and cultural life, and they campaign where change is needed. At a time of crisis for the nation they are #NeverMoreNeeded.

There is a problem of race inequality in society and our sector, and this impacts on our staff, our volunteers and the communities we are here to serve.

Far too many of the senior roles within our sector are held by white people, and there has been a real lack of opportunity for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals to begin, develop and succeed in their careers in the voluntary sector whether as paid staff, volunteers or Trustees.

Too often those organisations that are led or shaped by BAME individuals and communities are not given the same access, opportunities and funding as those primarily led and shaped by white people.

Systemic racism and discrimination in the UK directly and indirectly leads to poorer life chances, deeper health inequalities and greater risks being carried within BAME communities, and those challenges are exacerbated when our sector fails to address its own problems of race inequality.

While many of our members have campaigned and fought for race equality and social justice over many years, collectively we have not done enough to create the real changes that are needed to achieve true racial equality in our work.

We know that words alone are nowhere near enough. But we also know that silence amongst leaders, especially white leaders, in our sector causes pain for our colleagues and our communities.

Recently, Voice4Change and ACEVO published ‘Home Truths: Undoing racism and delivering real diversity in the charity sector.’

The report covers many aspects of racism as it is evidenced in our sector – from the systemic and individualised barriers experienced by BAME staff to a failure to effectively integrate race equity goals into our work. We welcome the report which raises important and deeply concerning issues for our sector. And we welcome the recommendations that speak to us as individuals, as leaders of organisations, and to the sector collectively.

As individuals we each commit on a personal, leadership level to the recommendations for CEOs and senior leaders.

We will engage actively with the recommendations for organisational policy, in the context of our individual organisations.

And as leaders of national infrastructure bodies we commit to working together to engage with the recommendations made for the sector collectively.

We recognise that to turn these recommendations into action will take determination, planning, energy and resource. It is not the role of a single organisation.

We invite others from our sector, including other charities, funders and regulators, to work with us towards dismantling the structural racism within our sector.

We commit to centering the experience and skills of our BAME colleagues and BAME-led and focused organisations as we do this work, and to prioritising any funding to enable BAME-led and focused organisations to support this work.

We commit to being open and accountable as we progress this work. We will agree and publish a joint work plan with clear goals and timescales, and we will report publicly on progress against that plan – with honesty about the things that don’t happen as well as those that do.

We also know that these collective actions, essential though they are, will not be enough on their own. We are all at different points on this journey and it is our responsibility as sector leaders to recognise the existence of racism in our own organisations, our networks and our sector and to take meaningful action to eradicate it.

As leaders of infrastructure bodies we also must work with our members and networks to help them do the same – and we must learn from the experience of our members and networks where they are ahead of us on this agenda.

We commit ourselves to move forward together, to listen and to learn, to take action jointly and individually, to effect change and to be held accountable for delivering change.

We know we have much more to do. For the sake of our sector and our communities, charities and social change organisations are #NeverMoreNeeded, and we need to get this right.

To find out more and view signatories to this statement visit https://nmn.org.uk/dismantling-racism-in-charities-and-the-voluntary-sector/