This statement describes Eastside People’s approach to being a more diverse and inclusive organisation, setting out areas for our attention as we work to promote equality.
Our ambitions here have an internal and external dimension. Firstly, we aim to be an inclusive and representative workforce. Secondly, and more impactfully, we would like to find ways that our platform can be used to support the development of a more diverse and egalitarian charity sector.
There is much that needs doing here and sadly, despite the intent of charities, they frequently lack the involvement of diverse voices at management and Board levels. According to Inclusive Boards, only 5.3% of the largest 500 charities have people in senior leadership teams from an ethnic minority background, falling to just 2.25% for women of colour. Many organisations are responding to the challenge, though, and are at various stages on a journey of what is essentially about cultural change. The change goes beyond policies and procedures. It’s about people and new behaviours. Kamran Mallick, CEO of Disability Rights UK – which is majority-led by disabled people – eloquently described to me how diversity is a win-win for charities. It enables organisations to access a more talented workforce, gain new supporters, and build better services through co-production within their communities.
At Eastside People, we have historically focused on achieving a good gender balance and our staff and membership reflect this (55% are women). We are now refocusing our lens so that our consultant team can become more representative in relation to race, disability and other forms of protected characteristics. We have welcomed some new members into the team from different communities, but we also acknowledge that there is more we can do, both in recruitment and ensuring our entire membership are briefed, trained and sensitised on and accepting of what it means to be fully inclusive. Our Board will be setting us new goals in these respects.
Externally, we are excited by opportunities for Eastside People to influence and make a contribution to better diversity in the sector. This aligns squarely with our mission to improve organisational capacity and effectiveness. As a predominantly white-led organisation at present, though, we won’t be doing this alone because we acknowledge that others are better placed. We are therefore reaching out to develop a network of diversity and inclusion partners, who may often be freelancers or smaller agencies in communities. We aim to offer access and opportunities to work with our 150 annual charity clients and network of 5,000+ charities and social enterprises. Specifically, we are keen to look at:
- How we can promote diversity as an integral part of any strategy, governance or change management project to charity CEOs and Boards
- How we can offer a diverse pool of candidates for charities using Eastside People as their recruiter of choice, and promote inclusive approaches that favour unbiased hiring
- How we can deliver capacity building that makes a positive impact on the sustainability of grassroots groups, recognising that minority communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
How are we doing?
We have made a start and we’ve got some interesting ideas on how to use our platform, which we are keen to test and develop. Our first capacity building programme on diversity is now underway, working with Black and Minority communities affected by the justice system. Working in partnership with Clinks and Action for Race Equality and with funding from the Ministry of Justice, this programme supports development, fundraising and sustainability for 52 community enterprises.
In terms of our recruitment service, we are working hard to ensure that our approach is fully inclusive, free of bias and reaches a diverse range of potential candidates. We have had good results on this front, both in terms of the longlists produced and candidates recruited, and this is an area we continue to strive to improve upon.
What’s clear here is that Eastside People must make this journey in the right way, which we believe means working with partners. It means being open to challenge and having a mindset to test, review and improve what we are doing. I’ll leave the last words here to Kamran who set out a clear challenge: “Statements, pledges and words are fine, but what really counts is the actions that we take as leaders within our own organisations”.
Richard Litchfield, Chief Executive, Eastside People