We believe in fairness and equality and we fully recognise that when it comes to diversity and inclusion, the charity sector and much of what lies beyond has been found wanting.

A fair, equitable approach to diversity and inclusion is the right path, morally and ethically, and one that will benefit the charity sector and everyone we serve.  Organisations with higher-than-average diversity have 19% higher innovation revenue than their competitors.  Full BAME representation could be worth £24 billion annually to the UK economy.  75% of the workforce by 2025 will be made up of millennials who want to work for innovative and diverse organisations

(source: watchthisspace.co.uk).

Inclusive recruitment practices are a fundamental part of creating a diverse workforce and it falls to charities and recruitment agencies, like Charity People, to keep reimagining recruitment and make charity sector organisations and roles welcoming to everyone.

Change starts with becoming comfortable with discomfort…

We’re taking a long, hard look at our approach and commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly when it comes to race.  We’ve been on this journey for a while and we’ve recently come to a crossroads: carry on down a familiar path well-trodden or be bold and brave by stepping out of our comfort zone.

If we’ve learned anything from the Black Lives Matter movement and the spotlight it justifiably shone on the charity sector through Charity So White, it’s that our aspiration as a team is to be bolder and braver.  We’re not yet where we want to be as an organisation and we’ve certainly made some mistakes.  We need to address BAME representation in senior leadership positions internally.  In considering tone and messaging we hesitated with our BLM statement and in hindsight wished we’d put it out earlier, although we’re proud of what we shared as a true reflection of our values.  We need to connect with more people of colour (POC) and BAME organisations to be able to provide the diverse shortlists that meet our aspirations.

Now we’re on a path heading clearly and deliberately towards change. We’re learning to become comfortable in our own discomfort because we know that’s critical to taking action, learning and growing.  We’re proud to collaborate as a collective – black colleagues, Asian colleagues and allies together – to drive change both internally and externally.  We’re becoming better recruitment consultants as a result of that and our Diversity and Inclusion (D+I) Committee’s activity makes us positive and hopeful about our future.

The journey so far…

Our D+I committee initially came together in early 2019 and we hosted our first diversity event on the topic of BAME representation in fundraising that summer in Manchester.  We acknowledged a need to address internal representation and our senior leadership team agreed to make diversity a recruitment priority for us going forward.

BRAP delivered a brilliant unconscious bias and diversity training session for our team in November 2019 and we created our Diversity and Inclusion Charter in December 2019 to empower and enable our consultants to:

  • Support charities, through briefing, to ensure their job communications are inclusive; actively challenging specifications that exclude individuals or groups, which includes support for the #nongraduateswelcome campaign.

  • Explain the benefits of stating a salary band in preventing unequal pay from being perpetuated and insist on including one in all job adverts.

  • Encourage charity partners to consider transferable skills and ensure interview and assessment processes are set up inclusively for candidates with transferable skillsets.

  • Have greater understanding of the part communications plays in attracting and excluding.  We introduced a diversity and inclusion statement on all external adverts.

  • Share and agree communications before publishing to combat unconscious bias.

  • Anonymise CVs and applications and remove protected characteristics for all exclusive roles.

  • Monitor and evaluate performance by ensuring accurate reporting on our database.

As a recruitment agency, our ability to reach diverse talent pools can either enable us to drive real change or see us perpetuate the problem.  One of our biggest opportunities to add value is tackling ‘substitution’ recruitment, which describes a tendency to only consider candidates with the exact same experience at a comparable organisation.  If we can begin to fish outside our predominantly white charity pools, that’s a good place to start. We have identified trustee appointments, marketing and communications, digital, corporate fundraising, individual giving, community and events, HR, finance, data and administration as job roles we regularly recruit with opportunity to explore wider talent pools and transferable skills from other sectors. We actively encourage our charity partners to seriously consider the benefits of transferable skills and how to change their interview practices to reflect this if they genuinely want more diverse shortlists.

Alongside the day-to-day, we’ve been involved for many months now in getting a fledgling diversity project off the ground working alongside some of Manchester’s biggest and brightest Arts organisations.  Its aim is to raise awareness of fundraising in BAME communities and specifically provide opportunities for BAME fundraisers to enter, be supported and retained within the Arts sector.  Watch this space!

COVID-19 setbacks…

It felt like we were beginning to gain momentum when CV-19 hit; we’d made tangible changes and diversity was now high on the agenda for us as an organisation.  Having recently had a change in leadership with our Managing Director, Ed, retiring and Nick taking the reins we planned to re-evaluate our core values and make changes to our team structure.  When lockdown happened, we had to take advantage of the furlough scheme and were forced to quickly put a new structure in place to enable us to face the challenges ahead.

Real structural change takes time and our temporary senior leadership team isn’t as diverse as we want it to be longer term.  Rather than appoint permanently during this time with a team that doesn’t reflect our values and vision for the future, we’ve put 12-month interim contracts in place to allow us to navigate the current situation and hopefully rebuild after the full impact of CV-19 is better understood.  We have committed to our team to make the necessary changes for a more diverse future and during the next 12 months, we plan to engage a D+I expert to support us to achieve our goals.  Through lockdown, we offered everyone the opportunity to attend Fundraising Everywhere’s first ever BAME conference and found the content echoed our own experiences and reinforced our desire for change.

The journey continues…

With the extra time created by recruitment freezes during lockdown, we launched a pilot project in Manchester to engage BAME individuals, networks and communities.  Aware of the issues surrounding the term BAME itself and the potential pitfalls of a blanket approach, we reached out independently to Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups.  We joined Greater Manchester BME network, linked up with the Institute of Directors North West who are already engaged in positive work in this space and have planned conversations with smaller groups and organisations.  By working collaboratively with BAME professionals already in our network, we’re reaching new individuals and communities.  It’s early days, but we’re pleased with the results so far and are now rolling out this approach in London too.

We’re proud to say we’ve got our first diversity-specific searches under our belts, so we’re building a blueprint of what a successful search looks like.  Teaming up with our social enterprise partner, Good Jobs, we’re hosting a free BAME recruitment clinic in November to share our learning with charities.

Our mission statement for the future:

  • Charity People will actively reach out to diverse networks, groups and organisations to widen our talent pools.

  • Charity People will work to overcome unconscious bias by ensuring the whole organisation takes part in continuous and ongoing diversity and inclusion training.

  • Charity People commits to addressing internal issues of BAME representation at a senior level within the next 12 months.

In a world where creativity and adaptability are so desperately needed, diversity becomes not just a moral and ethical issue, but a survival mechanism for the future.  We plan to be bolder and braver and would love to talk to individuals and organisations who feel the same.  Together we are stronger.

In love and solidarity,

Charity People