Equity, diversity and inclusion: Our journey so far – Part 2

This blog was co-written by NCVO’s EDI working group, which is made up of one member from each team at NCVO.

If we’re serious about exploring and dismantling systems of oppression, this won’t happen overnight. There’s a massive tension between wanting to move forward quickly and wanting to do the deep work to get this right. NCVO is focusing on the deep work, and we’re working with Pari Dhillon, a consultant specialising in equity, diversity and inclusion.

The first phase

In the first phase of the work, Pari is working with us to build a shared understanding of our current reality and aspirations for the future. She and her colleagues are running a series of focus groups to enable us to have some of the deep and challenging conversations that this work needs.

Phase one is about ‘diagnosis’ and will allow us to define the essential culture change we want to create at NCVO as well as the nature of our future leadership role within the sector. We’re working to ensure that our new strategy will reflect the centrality of this work.

Our initial progress

We’re already taking some action. These ‘quick wins’ don’t replace the deep work but they’re good starting points for any organisation looking to become more inclusive:

  • We’re ensuring that any panels on events we hold are as diverse as possible and encouraging others to do the same. We’re also looking at other ways to make events more inclusive, for example the food and drink we serve.
  • We’ve taken steps to diversify our board of trustees.
  • We’ve a long-established women’s network, a recently established a BAME network and a mental health, well-being and working relationships network. These networks have also initiated different ways of bringing all staff together to socialise and support each other – that doesn’t always mean going to the pub after work.
  • Pari is providing coaching for key staff – with a focus on our senior management – to support them to immerse themselves in learning about EDI and to reflect on their own practice as leaders.
  • We’re exploring how we can use data to understand diversity within our workforce, in particular the race, disability and gender pay gaps.
  • We’ve met the Charity So White campaign team twice and will continue to meet and learn from them.
  • We’re reviewing our online practical support content on EDI and developing our EDI training offer. We’re also looking to amplify organisations who’re already far ahead of us on this journey.

In addition to looking at our own organisation, we’re also engaging with the sector. Since December 2019, we’ve been conducting research on the theme of diversity and volunteering as part of our Time Well Spent research programme on the volunteer experience – more on this can be found in this blog. We’re holding a series of workshops with organisations and encouraging them to tell us more about what they’re doing via this digital form. We’ll be publishing our initial findings in June 2020 with more research taking place in the rest of the year.

These are small things, but they are, we hope, the start of things to come.

What are we doing next?

The focus groups with staff have just started and will run until the beginning of April. Pari and her team will feed back to us in May. We want to share some of the feedback and how we’re responding to it.

We’ve also started some bite-size learning for the EDI working group developed by Pari’s colleague, Kat Stark. Again, we’re hoping to be able to share what we’re reading and learning as time goes on via a monthly EDI round-up on the lines of our other round-ups.

We have a session planned on the leadership of EDI work at the Annual Conference, where we hope to learn from the experience of other leaders who’ve transformed their organisations.

And we want to hear from you – EDI is going to be central to our strategy, so please share your views on what more NCVO could be doing to transform ourselves and the sector by contributing to our strategy page.

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Rebecca Young is a senior policy officer at NCVO, working primarily on public services and volunteering policy. Before joining NCVO, Rebecca led on mental health, housing and disability policy at the National Union of Students.

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