Why our race equality pledge should challenge ourselves – and others
30 September 2021
Marking publication of our race equality statement, Amy Woodhouse says that working to become a more inclusive, equalities-focused organisation is not only the right thing to do – it means our working lives can be so much better
This week we’re publicly sharing Children in Scotland’s racial equality statement and our five pledges to strengthen our organisational commitment to racial equality and inclusion.
We’ve been working on this statement internally for quite a while. There is no doubt that the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 set us an important and necessary challenge to look at our organisational culture, structure, practices and approaches with a race equality lens and ask ourselves some tough questions.
We have had Challenging Inequalities as one of our organisational priorities for more than four years. But had we done enough to identify and remove the inequalities that exist within our own organisation with regards to race? The answer was most definitely no.
We’ve been able to learn the value of internal reflection and change from our experiences of working to improve our organisational culture and practice in relation to other equalities. I think the work we did to achieve our LGBT Youth Scotland Charter Silver Award was a particular motivator for further equalities work.
Our experience of that has shown us that working to become a more inclusive, equalities-focused organisation is not only right thing to do but also a really good thing for us all – it makes our work and our working lives so much better.
So last July our internal Equalities & Diversity (Ethnic Minorities) Working Group was formed, involving representatives from across the whole organisation. We drew in advice and guidance from CEMVO, who work to build the capacity and sustainability of the ethnic minority voluntary sector. They emphasised a few of things that we should work on from the get-go: building commitment at a strategic level, developing an action plan and setting our baseline measures.
Our statement was developed on the back of an existing Equality, Diversity and Human Rights policy, and in consultation with our staff, Board and our young people's advisory group Changing our World. We identified five pledges which relate to organisational policies and procedures, representation and recruitment, addressing barriers to accessing our services and opportunities, training and development for our team, learning from others and sharing our learning.
The statement and pledges were approved by our Board of Directors earlier this year, building in that strategic commitment. We’ve published it this week as part of our belief in transparency and sharing our learning with others.
Work on each of the pledges is underway. Bearing in mind CEMVO’s advice, we’ve identified what the baseline measures should be for each pledge and have set up systems to collect data that will help us to measure progress. Some things are fairly easy to address – more routine equal opportunities monitoring across the organisation, for example. Some are more complex, focusing on organisational culture, and will take time to embed.
It can feel at times like the pace of change and development is slow. We have an understanding of where we want to get to, but don’t feel like we’re there yet. And that can be frustrating. However, I think we can take heart from an approach that aims to build race equality and inclusion into the bones of the organisation. Progress is vital, but it has to be meaningful and lasting.
If we are to continue to have a focus on challenging inequalities at Children in Scotland, it’s absolutely essential to view this work as much about an internal process as it is a part of our external influencing work. Indeed we can’t legitimately challenge others to improve their practice and decision-making if we don’t do the work to challenge and improve ourselves.
With special thanks to Vicky Wan, our ex-colleague, who did so much to steer this work forward.