INSIGHT

How to develop a diversity and inclusion strategy

We were impressed with the thought and care that had gone into homelessness charity Settle’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy. Here, CEO Rich Grahame breaks down their approach.

Equality Diversity

It’s now over a year on from the murder of George Floyd and the shockwaves it sent across the world. At Settle, it triggered honest and difficult conversations acknowledging how we had failed to adequately prioritise equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as an organisation. I am acutely aware of the privilege that I hold as a white, male chief executive in the charity sector, and have reflected on my responsibility as a leader to learn about and dismantle the racial injustices present in our society.

I’ve been blown away by the passion and determination of the whole Settle team in helping to develop and deliver our EDI Strategy. Their energy and challenge have ensured we’ve kept our momentum and held ourselves to account over the last year.

We are committed to becoming an anti-racist organisation and to actively improving equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels, in all areas of our work and in our organisational culture. We decided to develop our strategy and action plan around ACEVO principles to improve racial diversity in the charity sector. 

We want to ensure we put words into action and are transparent about our progress so here is a short summary of what we’ve changed over the last year – and what more we have to do.

 

  1. Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.

We fully acknowledge that this is a problem within the sector that we have a responsibility to help change. The whole organisation has been involved in developing our first EDI strategy through extensive consultation with staff, the board and external experts. We are aware that there is an underrepresentation of people of colour at Settle and are working towards changing that through changes to our recruitment, culture and resourcing of this work detailed below.

2. Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.

Our board and senior team are committed to driving forward our EDI strategy, role modelling inclusive behaviours and celebrating the diversity of our organisation. To ensure accountability we added EDI as a standing item on our board reports and appointed diversity leads at board and staff level who are supported by me.I’m also also attending a 9-week leadership course on How To Talk About Race At Work to ensure we are confident in making Settle an anti-racist organisation.

3. Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.

We all have bias and it is important we put systems and training in place to manage them. Although it is essential our leadership understands this, we believe all staff should learn about how racial bias can impact decision making. That’s why earlier this year our whole team undertook unconscious bias training to ensure that everyone in the organisation is aware of their biases and how it can impact their decision making. 

Going forward we will continue to invest in training around racial and unconscious bias with our team, consult with third party experts to review our practices and culture and increase the diversity of our leadership to improve our organisational decision making. We have an upcoming anti-racism training with Strawberry Words which we are looking forward to as a next step in our learning journey. 

4. Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in.

In order to set targets, we realised we needed to better understand the makeup of our team and the young people that we work with. We conducted our first staff diversity survey earlier this year to use as a baseline which you can find here. We will update this annually to see the progress we are making in different areas.

We are currently developing a diversity survey to conduct with the young people we work with so we can better understand the community that we work with. We will then be able to see which groups are over or under represented and set targets and actions to remedy this. 

5. Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.

We know that in order to make change we need to allocate resources. That’s why we’ve created our first EDI budget to support our organisation’s training and development needs. We’ve also allocated time across the organisation and relevant team member roles to implement their actions. 

The resourcing of EDI will be reviewed annually so we can make sure it is proportionate to the size and ambitions of Settle.

6. View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.

Our whole staff team has been instrumental in helping us work out what we need to change and how we can do that. They’ve shown initiative and passion in leading the way for change. Whether that’s setting up spaces to celebrate the diversity of the organisation, organising a monthly podcast club to discuss issues around diversity or creating language guidelines to ensure we are consistent in how we talk about the young people we work with as an organisation. 

We will continue to hold quarterly EDI meetings for everyone in the organisation so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute to our plans. 

7. Recruit for potential, not perfection.

We’ve made a number of changes to our recruitment process to encourage a broader and more diverse group of applicants and ensure we remove bias from our processes. These include adding an optional diversity questionnaire on application forms, removing university degrees as requirements for roles, using recruiters that market to more diverse applicants such as Black Young Professionals Network and anonymising applications to remove biases associated with seeing people’s names in the scoring process. 

8. Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.

We want to ensure lived experience is at the heart of our organisation and guides decision making at all levels of the organisation. We currently do this by including care experienced individuals on our board and staff team, involving young people who’ve finished our programme in all frontline recruitment interviews to help find the right people, valuing lived experience financially by paying young people who support our work for their time and expertise. 

 

We know there is more we can do here. We’ve surveyed our alumni to find out what more support and opportunities they would like and are working to put their requests into action. We would also like to set up a young person panel to support further development of Settle’s strategy and programme development.

Although we are pleased with the progress we’ve made, we know there’s a lot more work to do. To hold ourselves accountable, we’ll update you each year with our progress against our strategy and publish the diversity data for our organisation here. If you have any questions about this blog, or if you’re from another organisation developing this and want to connect, you can get in touch with us at [email protected]

Rich Grahame is the CEO of Settle and this article first appeared on the Settle website.

Photo by Amy Elting on Unsplash

Skip to toolbar