Following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020, our staff and Board re-evaluated what it is that we can be doing to help improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) - focusing not only on working to eradicate racism but also to promote equality in any way we’re able to.
You can read the full goals we initially outlined here, but our main aim was to recognise that there was a problem within the charity sector and there was more we could be doing to combat it, and to implement structural changes to combat any issues. This included, but wasn’t limited to, more training for our staff and trustees; promoting our commitment to EDI and anti-racism across our website; and discussing EDI at every single SVC Board meeting.
We want to be as open and transparent as possible in sharing all the work that we’re doing, and plan to do, to meet our goals. Six months on, we wanted to review what we’ve done so far and to share what it is we have planned in the near future.
What have we been doing?
Three of our Board members came forward with interest in taking on an EDI role, managing the EDI work that we do. These trustees created an EDI working group along with Eleri, one of our SVC staff members, who meet regularly to discuss and make progress with the work we’re doing. These trustees also report back at every Board meeting, keeping the Board fully informed and making sure that we say on track with our goals.
Our staff uploaded our formal response to Black Lives Matter, with our goals remaining on the website so we can be held accountable to these. We’ve also been keeping track of our work through these blog posts, making sure anyone who visits our website can easily find out what we’ve been doing. Staff have added EDI information to the ‘Our Values’ section of our website, explaining all about EDI, types of discrimination and protected characteristics. Our mission statement has also been updated to explicitly state that we’re race and LGBT+ inclusive. For Black History Month, we put an article together explaining its history and why it is so important to celebrate.
Our staff and Board have also been to many training sessions - we’ve attended virtual training led by Stonewall for Introduction to LGBT Inclusion, and Race Equality First for Racism, Discrimination and Hate Crime training. Our staff members have attended a ‘Ten Years of the Equality Act 2010' online panel discussion, Unconscious Bias training and a Race Alliance Wales Anti-Racism Workshop.
SVC staff are setting up Beneficiary Advisory Groups, to give our beneficiaries a voice and have the opportunity to give us feedback and make suggestions about how we can improve our services. We’ve had sessions with beneficiaries of our LOL project for young people with Downs Syndrome as well as our beneficiaries at Innovate Trust. A group for our children and young people projects is currently being set up as well.
Our staff have also been trying to aid accessibility of our beneficiary groups to vote by providing support to the Electoral Commission.
The EDI working group have worked together to update the EDI sections of our application forms to become more inclusive. Other than age and gender, it isn’t compulsory for us to ask these questions but we want to make sure that the SVC community is representative of the South Wales community, and make sure there are the appropriate options for everyone on our forms when applying. Our volunteers are now able to write down the pronunciation of their name, preferred name, sexuality, gender and if they have a trans history (using the same categories recommended by Stonewall). We also ask about ethnicity and religion (using categories recommended by Race Equality First). We ask if they have caring responsibilities, whether they have a disability or any health conditions, and whether they can understand, speak or read Welsh.
Finally, staff have started using inclusion nudges - these are reminders to be more inclusive and challenge any subconscious biases to improve our decision-making. Some of the ways these have been incorporated include encouraging on referral forms to encourage referrals of those from diverse backgrounds, adapting our project descriptions to be more inclusive and easier to read, and sharing interview questions with volunteers in advance so they can prepare. We want to get the best from our applicants, and want to find people with a genuine interest rather than just those with specific skills. We also want our informal interviews to be a two-way process and a way to get to know each other. So, by sharing the questions we hope that this gives our volunteers good practice with interview processes whilst still being an inclusive process.
What we’ve got planned…
In the next few months, we plan to celebrate LGBT+ History Month, International Women’s Day and St David’s Day. Our staff plan on reviewing our policies so that they contain anti-racism and inclusive language, and our staff and Board members have another training session with Stonewall on ‘Introduction to Allyship’.
Also, the EDI working group are reviewing ways that we can make our website more accessible. Staff are currently planning to have Dyslexie font on our website, which is accessible for those with Dyslexia, and work with a British Sign Language interpreter to interpret an ‘About SVC’ video. We’re planning on using illustrations and graphics across the website, our social media channels and our promotional materials, including graphics of the nine protected characteristics. Finally, we want to organise for some of our beneficiaries to audit our website to make sure that it’s accessible and easy to navigate.
A huge thank you to all our staff and the EDI working group for driving our goals forward and boosting inclusion and equality within SVC. Please contact email@example.com if you’d like to discuss our EDI work further, or if you have any suggestions for us on how we can improve.