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People and Culture

Save the Children UK is built on compassion, trust and respect.

We’re committed to creating a safe and respectful working environment where our staff and volunteers feel valued, where they recognise one another’s contribution, where they know inappropriate behaviour won’t be tolerated and where they feel safe to raise concerns.

Our commitment to this aspiration is reflected in our People and Culture strategy, which was shaped by the priorities identified in an independent review of our workplace culture. It is underpinned by our new set of workplace behaviours, co-created with staff, which we are in the process of embedding across Save the Children UK. The behaviours focus on how we speak and listen to each other, how we challenge and how our actions match our words.

As for so many others, this year has been extremely difficult for us, as we worked hard to manage the impact of COVID-19 on our organisation. Our staff showed incredible commitment and determination to keep delivering their work for children, while managing significant personal and professional challenges.

The Save the Children movement has around 25,000 staff working around the world.

As of 31 December 2020, 913 staff worked at Save the Children UK and 4,577 people were working in a formal volunteering role.

To find out about our approach to pay and overheads, and for details on our gender and ethnicity pay gaps, click here.

As of 31 December 2020, all UK-based staff were working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic. We used the government’s furlough scheme for 250 of our employees in 2020. A very limited number of staff, including some facilities, IT support and retail staff, worked from the office or our shops when necessary, and in line with strict safety protocol.

The Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we manage and conduct our work at Save the Children UK. During an incredibly difficult year, we have done everything possible to prioritise change for children and support our staff.

In March 2020, to protect staff, prevent the spread of the virus and adhere to government guidelines, we shifted almost entirely to remote working, closed our shops for intervals during the year and suspended in-person events. We intend to remain a predominantly remote-working organisation until at least June 2021 and are considering how we will work differently beyond the pandemic.

We used the government’s furlough scheme for 250 of our staff in 2020, topping up the government’s contribution to ensure they received full pay.

We have engaged closely with staff throughout the year. Their feedback on our internal communications and on online working has been very positive. We set up a new staff sounding board to ensure that different perspectives were carefully considered before decisions about working arrangements were taken.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on how we manage and conduct our work at Save the Children UK. During an incredibly difficult year, we have done everything possible to prioritise change for children and support our staff.

In March 2020, to protect staff, prevent the spread of the virus and adhere to government guidelines, we shifted almost entirely to remote working, closed our shops for intervals during the year and suspended in-person events. We intend to remain a predominantly remote-working organisation until at least June 2021 and are considering how we will work differently beyond the pandemic.

We used the government’s furlough scheme for 250 of our staff in 2020, topping up the government’s contribution to ensure they received full pay.

We have engaged closely with staff throughout the year. Their feedback on our internal communications and on online working has been very positive. We set up a new staff sounding board to ensure that different perspectives were carefully considered before decisions about working arrangements were taken.

Wellbeing

Staff wellbeing has been a critical priority throughout the pandemic. Our Wellbeing team developed a comprehensive strategy to provide clear and accessible support to all staff during the crisis and beyond. Support in 2020 included:

  • offering voluntary furlough, flexible working and increased annual special leave from 10 to 35 days for staff with caring responsibilities
  • monthly bulletins and lunchtime panel sessions for all staff on, for example, grief, sleep, work-related stress, domestic abuse, isolation, men’s mental health and kindness
  • two training courses: ‘coping with grief: supporting yourself and others’ and ‘how to create a wellbeing plan’
  • guidance for line managers on individual and team wellbeing
  • allocating a dedicated Mental Health First Aider for each department (continuing in early 2021)
  • re-opening offices, when government restrictions allowed, for staff who struggled to work remotely
  • psychological screening before and after overseas deployments during the pandemic.

The number of staff accessing support from the wellbeing service tripled during the first UK lockdown. The team provided both short- and long-term one-to-one support to more than 120 members of staff (15% of total workforce) in 2020 on a range of issues. They gave tailored individual support to those who were managing a pre-existing mental health diagnosis.

We have a responsibility to defend all children everywhere – as well as our staff, volunteers and the people we work with – against discrimination.

As an organisation, we recognise we do not reflect the racial diversity of London, where most of our staff are based, nor the children or communities we serve. Only around 18% of staff at Save the Children UK are people of colour. People of colour are also underrepresented at senior levels of the organisation.

We lack diversity in other areas too. People with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and people with disabilities are all underrepresented.

We know from regular consultation that some of our staff have experienced discrimination at work, not only on the basis of race, gender identity, sexual orientation and disability, but also concerning their faith, parental or carer status, and socio-economic background. This is inexcusable.

While we have been investing in significant, concrete improvements to our workplace culture for some years, in 2020 we produced our first multi-year Diversity and Inclusion strategy. It was co-created with staff and tailored to reflect Save the Children UK’s identity, culture and external work. It incorporates learning from the 2018 Shale review of our workplace culture, organisational reports from the BAME and LGBT+ Allies staff networks, and staff feedback.

It is a strategy to achieve a more equitable and inclusive workplace and tackle the stark underrepresentation of marginalised minority groups among our staff, including senior leadership.

Staff were provided with a range of ways to engage with the strategy-development process, such as an anonymous staff survey, feedback meetings with staff-equality networks, a Q&A at an all-staff meeting, and attendance at strategy-shaping workshops.

Our new Diversity and Inclusion team will, alongside staff stakeholders, make sure the strategy is delivered effectively. A diversity and inclusion forum will be created in 2021, and departmental diversity and inclusion reps will ensure the strategy is delivered in an accountable and collaborative – not top-down – way.

Save the Children UK chief executive Kevin Watkins said: “Articulating what needs changing is a first step towards healing. The next steps are more difficult. Achieving change will require transformative cultural and structural shifts – and that includes people with power and privilege acknowledging their part in the problem, listening to and learning from those at the sharp end of systemic oppression and injustice, and acting as allies for change.”

Institutional racism and discrimination exists within the charity sector and our organisation, and we are committed to tackling it.

We acknowledge that meeting our legal obligations does not make us impervious to the underlying behaviours and attitudes that exist within our society that disadvantage people of colour. We continue to strive to make our workplace a culture which is truly diverse and in which all of our staff can equally thrive.

In June 2020, the Executive Leadership Team of Save the Children UK published a Statement of Solidarity, outlining its anti-racism committments.

We have committed to providing quarterly public updates on our progress and mistakes. To see examples of the progress we have made in 2020, click here