[written prior to Corona virus lockdown]
I signed up for the ACEVO/Institute of Fundraising diversity principles in summer 2018:
I agreed that as a leader I will:
- Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.
- Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
- Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.
- 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.
- Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.
- 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.
- Recruit for potential, not perfection.
- Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.
You can see who else has signed up to these principles here: https://www.acevo.org.uk/eight-principles-to-address-the-diversity-deficit-in-charity-leadership/
Lip-service is not something I value highly in others, never mind myself, so what am I doing to honour my pledge?
The short answer is not enough, yet. But here’s my start:
- How we set our rates
In December 2017 I reviewed the company’s pricing structure and methodology for setting our client rates. I realised very quickly that the female associates (it was a smaller team then, but the ratio is currently 17:5 women to men) were setting their rates lower than the male associates on almost every assignment. Some of them hadn’t increased their rates since I had started working with them in 2011.
We now have a rate card and every member of the associate team is paid the same rate for the same work, and the client pays the same rate for the same work too.
- Discouraging office-based relationships
We are an entirely virtual company with no office. We do not believe it is often necessary to visit a client’s office to deliver our work and that the client will get better service when we work in the best environment for us, unencumbered by the restrictions that a fixed place of work places on everyone who works there.
We therefore discourage clients from insisting that any of the team should be based with them.
Not only does this offer greater flexibility and therefore opens up opportunities to those who need flexibility to juggle their lives, it also reduces a geographically southern bias.
- Reducing unconscious (visual) bias
Having a virtual team means that we assess our potential associates entirely virtually too. We never see any of the candidates ahead of them joining the team, which removes any visual unconscious bias that may exist in the team.
- Reading more, listening more
I am reading more widely, I am following a wider range of people on social media, I am doing my best to listen and learn.
Visual unconscious bias is one thing but we all know that unconscious bias can pervade in may ways and so I am thinking of ways to further reduce this in our recruitment processes… in a realistic way for a team of two people.
And I’ve recently asked the associate team to complete an anonymous survey that covers all the legally protected characteristics. As they are all self-employed, I can’t insist they do this, but I hope they will want to help me understand the current team make up so that I have a base line from which to improve.
My biggest ponder is about how I can influence the many charities we work with on a regular basis to take their lack of diversity more seriously.
Finally, part of my listening and learning is about working out what more I can do individually and organisationally.