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A statement of solidarity from the leadership of Save the Children UK

 

At Save the Children we believe every child has equal rights. Our founders laid the groundwork for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes racial discrimination as a violation of child rights. We have a duty and a responsibility to defend all children everywhere against discrimination based on race and gender. 

The harm that has been caused – and continues to be caused – by racism in our organisation is a threat to that mission and an affront to our values. We acknowledge our debt to the work done by the #AidToo, #CharitySoWhite and #BlackLivesMatter movements in raising our level of understanding of harm and of intersectionality, often at extraordinary emotional and personal cost. We acknowledge the thinkers, writers and organisers of colour who came before and who leave a rich legacy of work around race and racism for us to learn from. We mourn the deaths of all those who have lost their lives as a result of racism and acknowledge the harm caused to Black people and communities of colour for centuries. 

We acknowledge the institutional racism that exists within the charity sector and our organisation and affirm our commitment to using our power as leaders to tackle both. We take responsibility as leaders of an organisation that is part of development and humanitarian sectors which have racism, colonialism and white supremacy deeply embedded in their mindsets, culture, practices and structures. Our UK work focuses on childhood poverty – an experience that is much more common in Black communities and communities of colour and for families in which someone is disabled. All of these aspects of our work, along with the contribution made by our Black colleagues and colleagues of colour, and those who are refugees and migrants, place obligations on us to listen with humility to their experiences and wisdom. A commitment to listen – deeply and repeatedly – is our first commitment. We will embrace the discomfort involved in an examination of the white privilege most of us benefit from and create brave spaces for challenge and accountability in all of the spheres of influence we have internally, across the wider Save the Children family, and across the sector. 

Listening is a necessary but insufficient condition for change. We are committed to the following actions as a first step and will be reviewing progress, mistakes and lessons learned each month from today’s date. The commitments below represent a framework for our thinking. The work to deliver an action plan under each of these headings begins next week. These commitments by the Executive Leadership Team do not replace the important strategies which are currently being co-created with our People and Culture and Diversity and Inclusion Steering Groups – they represent the commitments we are making as executive leaders and which reflect the things inside our control given our outsized positional power. Our most urgent task is identifying where harm is being done and repairing it. That is merely the first step on our journey to being an anti-racist organisation. We recognise the latter is the work of a lifetime so we will publish on our website what we are learning once a quarter and actively seek internal and external challenge about our blind spots and areas where we have fallen short of our aspirations, or where our own account of progress made doesn’t tally with the experience of colleagues of colour

Our Commitments

  • We will review our external impact, testing whether our programming and influencing work is actively dismantling white supremacy and other forms of oppression and putting the most deprived and marginalised children at its heart. We will question everything and create brave spaces where all colleagues can shape our thinking about how we decolonise development, dismantle racism in humanitarian action and work towards becoming actively anti-racist in our UK domestic work. We will seek more diverse partners across our development, humanitarian and domestic work, sharing with and giving up power to them. We commit to doing this as part of the wider Save the Children family so all parts of our global organisation are involved.  
  • We will reconstruct our storytelling, testing whether our fundraising, communications and campaigning work stereotypes, ‘others’ or strips agency and dignity from children. We will remove white saviourism and the white gaze from our communications about our international work and ensure the lived experience of Black families and families of colour in poverty is at the heart of our communications and advocacy about our domestic work. 
  • We will test our supporter engagement programmes, looking at whether they build power in diaspora and Black communities and communities of colour, and whether our volunteering offer is inclusive. 
  • We will ensure our people and culture work dramatically improves our diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation but particularly at our Executive Director and Director levels, where decision-making power is concentrated. We will set and publicise our June diversity baseline and publish our diversity data every six months. We will break down our data so that we can interrogate the intersections between different characteristics in terms of who joins, stays in, is promoted in our organisation. We will publish on our website our BAME pay gap and commit to narrowing it by the end of the year. We will formalise acting up and stretch opportunities and ensure transparent competition for them. We will introduce a specific leadership programme for communities who are under-represented in Save the Children as a whole, and in particular at leadership level, including Black people and people of colour, working class people and people with disabilities. We will ensure all of our policies and practices, particularly those relating to line management, create the conditions for racism and microaggressions to be raised and resolved. 
  • We will challenge ourselves and disrupt our thinking and actions to learn (and unlearn) more and to fulfil the commitments above without depending on the labour of Black colleagues and colleagues of colour. We will, however, continue to be accountable to our Black colleagues and colleagues of colour, and in particular our BAME staff network and the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group. We will actively intervene as individuals and as a group to disrupt harm and to ensure that all of our policies, processes and governance reflect diverse perspectives and protect people from harm. 

These are the commitments we are making today. They are made, publicly, in a spirit of accountability – they are the least Black communities and colleagues, and communities and colleagues of colour, can expect. We actively invite feedback and challenge on them and will maintain transparent communication on progress.  We will make more commitments as we learn more. We embrace the challenges ahead – knowing that we will make mistakes and have to commit again and again to the work of active anti-racism. We will embed these commitments in our own personal objectives and the accountability and reporting mechanisms for our Board of Trustees. We expect to be held to account for the speed and ambition of this work and will be working with our People and Culture and Diversity and Inclusion Steering group members to set timelines and targets for this work.

Save the Children UK’s Executive Leadership Team