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.”