05 Sep #CharitySoWhite
In 2015 activist April Reign started the hashtag that became synonymous with that year Oscars ceremony in response to an all-white slate of acting nominees – #OscarsSoWhite
Some of you might have seen it, a lot of people didn’t like the hashtag but not a lot of people took the time to understand it. In a nutshell, if the voting body isn’t diverse by race, gender, geography and age then the nominations will only reflect the preferences of the people on that panel.
If you ask me and 9 of my clones to be responsible for nominations on the best song of 2019, you’ll hear some artists like Cadet, Not3s, Avelino & Wiley. Some of you might not even know who these people are and will go on record to tell me that this isn’t real music etc. But the 10 of us (me and my 9 clones) will only be giving you our opinion based on what we like. However, if our opinions were then used as a definitive indicator as to what the country felt was the biggest song of 2019 – this would be highly problematic.
Recently I started engaging with a lot of third sector organisations, the majority of which were charities, about an equality, diversity and inclusion event that we are organising specifically for this sector. Naively, I’ve always considered this to be one of the more diverse and inclusive sectors and thought the sector would be a good role model to show the other sectors how they do things right. I said naively because we recently came across #CharitySoWhite trending across social media and I urge anyone involved in the third sector to read through the comments on Twitter.
The interesting thing about these viral hashtags is that on one side you have people sharing their experiences and on the other, you have people telling them that they are overreacting. I am in a position that gives me a unique insight into the equality, diversity and inclusion issues being faced by each sector and there are days I feel drained by people telling me that these issues are not significant and that the playing field is level.
The UK today is made up of diverse individuals, each with unique life experiences – if charities do not reflect these diverse experiences then how do they understand + represent the society and causes that they have been established to support. A lack of diversity in leadership and senior management roles is an issue that creates a negative perception overall and trickles its way down to the operations of these organisations.
Me and my 9 clones might be a fictional example, but charities cannot keep recruiting clones of themselves and expecting things to magically change. Charities more so than corporates should reflect the communities that they aim to serve.
“Diversity and charities should go together as naturally as clouds and rain. Sadly, they don’t always seem to. Too many charities have rigorous equal opportunities policies but still end up with white, middle class staff, volunteers and supporters. An equal opportunity policy is not the same as an inclusive, empathetic and diverse culture.” – Joe Saxton, Driver of Ideas, nfpSynergy; Chair of Parent Teacher Association UK