Diversity, equity and inclusion: where are we now?

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Moving towards equity, how will we at Power to Change address the diversity, equity and inclusion recommendations from our latest report?

Recently, Power to Change, alongside Social Investment Business and Access Foundation published a report which looks at how well we have supported minoritised ethnicity community and social enterprise.

The data from the report comes from a selection of our funding and support programmes and what is evidently clear is that more needs to be done. This blog outlines some of the ways we will address some of the recommendations from the report, as well as how we will continue to improve on diversity, equity and inclusion more generally. The report recommends that we:

  • Genuinely engage with minoritised ethnicity community and social enterprises for programme design and systems change.
  • Acknowledge and mitigate barriers to accessing Power to Change’s support.
  • Change our language to be more inclusive and ensure our images and marketing are representative of the places community businesses support.
  • More and better quality Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) data needs to be collected going forward, particularly across the social investment sector. 
  • Sector organisations (including the three partner commissioning organisations) need to continue to be open and transparent in their reporting, in real-time. To further understand discrepancies in terms of values and amounts flowing to ‘BAME’-led organisations.

The steps that Power to Change as an organisation is taking towards being more diverse, equitable and inclusive cover a range of areas, from our grant practices through to recruitment of staff and even the language we use to describe the people we support.

Some of these are substantial pieces of work which may take implementation, evaluation and adjusting over the next few years of iterative learning until we get them right.

Changing the language we use

In the short term, we have listened to the communities which have been labelled ‘BAME’ and heard that broadly, this term is disliked as inaccurate, homogenising and problematic.

Some of our funding in 2020, in the interests of urgency, did use ‘BAME’ as an identifier, but we now refer to these groups as communities experiencing racial inequity, or minoritised ethnicity communities.

We recognise also that ‘minority ethnic’ is problematic; it suggests that ‘minority’ is a passive, inevitable fact. In reality, these ethnicities have long been minoritised. Along with a group of other funders and foundations, we are adopting better language around ethnicity and nationality, disability and various other protected characteristics.

We also listened when we were told that ‘community of interest’, used to refer to a disabled community group, for example, was offensive. We would now say ‘community of shared experience’.

Being transparent

In addition to the programme data included in this report, we have given the OK for lots more of our data to be included in a diversity data dashboard being produced by Social Investment Business.

The aim is not only for the funders whose data will be public to hold each other to account on how well we are supporting diverse communities but also to encourage other funders and supporting organisations in the sector to follow suit.

This is just one of ways that we are aiming to work with other funders to rate and improve our performance around DEI. Watch this space!

Service design

We have taken steps towards integrating the knowledge and skills of people with lived experience of various kinds of marginalisation into our practices.

In 2020 we heard that the groups most disadvantaged by the Covid-19 pandemic were those who struggled to see our funding as “for them” or to meet the requirements we previously would have sought from applicants.

This has been a humbling process, and not only has made immediate changes to how we design funding application forms and guidance but has driven us to work out how we can best involve people with lived experience to improve our future work in the design stage.

Concept of community business

It has also driven us to answer questions about our own concept of community business, our primary focus. If community groups run by disabled people are less likely to be geographically focused in the same way, for example, a community centre or a village hall is, how can we ensure our funding welcomes them?

These are ‘do we bend our criteria’ or ‘do we break and rewrite them’ questions which are taking place behind the scenes across Power to Change, with the goal of making how we support community businesses more inclusive and effective.

Our policies

Internally we are updating our policy to improve how we recruit to further avoid bias or discrimination, but also experiment with approaches that place value on the lived experience of marginalisation people can bring to our staff team.

If we know our objective is to better understand, for example, disabled community groups or LGBTQIA+ community groups, valuing lived experience of these (and other) forms of marginalisation is an ideal way to anchor understanding in our teams.

We are working to meet a number of commitments including becoming a Disability Confident Leader, publishing an Ethnicity Pay Gap report similar to our existing Gender Pay Gap Report, adopting the Halo Collective’s Halo Code and integrating the advice of ACEVO and Charity So White.

To give a specific example of these quite broad topics, the Home Truths report from ACEVO found that people from minoritised ethnicities felt being over scrutinised was a micro-aggression and was often deemed “not important” if reported. 

Our policy covering discrimination will specifically includes undue scrutiny towards a staff member with a protected characteristic as being inappropriate behaviour, and something that can be reported by staff members and be expected to be appropriately addressed.

Delivering funding and support

The longest journey that we are only just beginning is working to move beyond equality and into equity into how we deliver our funding and support. In the context of delivering grants and support to community business, the simplest way we can explain this is that we intend to support those in greatest need.

Power to Change has had targets around reaching the most disadvantaged groups/areas since our inception. The majority of our funding reaches communities in areas ranked 1-3 in the Indices of Multiple Deprivation and this has been a target explicit in how we design our grants. It was the Covid-19 pandemic which drove home to us the clear disadvantage faced by communities experiencing racial inequity and disabled people, and this spurred us to expand the scope of how we target funding.

During the pandemic in 2020, it was obvious that there was substantial broad need for support, but it was impossible to ignore the data relating to unequal impact, disproportionate deaths and economic hardship in these marginalised communities.

Moving towards equity

Equity is often synonymous with fairness, and we found attempting to support those most in need was successful, impactful and just. Moving into the future of Power to Change we may not have such explicit examples of disproportionate impact as we did with Covid-19.

The experiences of the past year have led us to understand that this does not mean such unequal impact is not happening, only that marginalisation is more subtle, systemic and hidden.

To move forward towards equity, we are getting involved in more initiatives about transparency, we are educating our staff team about marginalisation and inequity, we are working towards listening to communities experiencing these unequal impacts and integrating their advice into our processes, and designing activities to support most extensively those in most need.

If you have any questions about our DEI work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.