2020 saw a series of events unfold that would spark a global reckoning with racism. The murder of George Floyd initiated a wave of protests across the world, and Covid-19 exposed a host of inequalities that meant people from Black and minoritised communities were disproportionately affected by the virus. This was followed by a report from the government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which denied the ongoing impact of racism on the lives of those from Black and minoritised communities.
Whilst Respect has always been committed to the principles of anti-racism, it was during this time that we agreed this wasn’t enough. Ever since, we’ve been working to become an actively anti-racist organisation, guided by a staff-led anti-racism working group. We have taken seriously Imkaan’s challenge to be “transformative, not performative”, and to do this we have initially focused on our internal ways of working.
The process started with time spent exploring and understanding what it meant to our staff to become actively anti-racist.
This is an ongoing process, but we have made some concrete steps towards our goal:
- We are taking a whole-organisation approach to becoming anti-racist. This includes: embedding our commitment in our new strategy, representation from all levels of the organisation in our anti-racism working group, whole staff training, ensuring EDI is a focus of all of our work.
- We have changed our Board recruitment processes to attract a more diverse group of trustees: As a result, we have successfully recruited a more diverse group of new trustees.
- We have changed processes and providers to reflect our anti-racist values.
- We set up a protected space for Black and minoritised team members to regularly come together, receive peer support and share lived experiences.
Our next steps include:
- Running whole organisation anti-racist training, delivered by external specialists, that ensures a collective understanding of Respect’s position on racism, with bespoke training for Black and minoritised colleagues.
- Implementing the recommendations made in the VAWG sector anti-racism charter, and using our position as a membership organisation to encourage members to engage meaningfully with the recommendations.
- Carrying out a staff survey to better understand the diversity of our organisation so we can further improve our recruitment, training, development and support systems.
- Reviewing our staff recruitment processes to ensure there is fair access for people from Black and minoritised communities.
- Reviewing our accreditation standards and processes to ensure the needs of Black and minoritised communities are met.
- Working to understand current gaps in evidence and practice for Black and minoritised individuals and communities.
- Ensuring that we act as an ally to Black and minoritised communities through every area of our work including fundraising, partnership work and campaigns.
We know that our mission to become an anti-racist organisation is ongoing, and requires a sustained commitment of effort, time and resource. Accountability is key, so the Anti-racism Working Group is using an action tracker, informed by the recommendations outlined in the VAWG sector anti-racism charter, to ensure we are achieving our aims. This will be monitored by our Senior Leadership Team and progress will be reported to our Board on a quarterly basis.