Jeremy Crook OBE writes:
As the General Election approaches and we consider what the next five years hold for our country, the issues we care about, and the organisation and sector that we work in – the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector – we should challenge ourselves to have strong agenda for change.
My challenge for our sector is to be more progressive on equality and inclusion.
The public, private and voluntary sectors all have their strengths and weaknesses but when all are valued, society wins. All sectors strive to be efficient and effective and the VSC is certainly able to make a real difference, often with very few resources. Its strength comes from highly committed people, unpaid and paid, who see a social or environmental need and go all out to make the situation better for their fellow citizens.
As a member of the Queens’s Award for Voluntary Service National Award Committee, every year I see great examples of the real difference volunteers make in their communities for every section of society.
But the VSC is a wonderfully diverse sector and I want to see the large organisations in the sector move to the forefront of tackling social justice and racial inequalities. Our best known charities should be publishing information on equality and diversity on their websites - about their staff profiles and service users - and we should set our actions to address the main equality performance disparities where they exist.
The VCS should be beyond the public sector equality duty, we should be advocating for a levelling up of the legalisation, but all too often the sector actually lags behind the public sector on equalities.
How many of the top 100 charities boards reflect Britain’s ethnic diversity?
How many have senior BME leaders?
These valued charities must be seen to be tacking racial, and other key inequalities. Greater transparency is vital and leaders in the sector need to put the sector at the forefront of equality and diversity best practice.
I am delighted that BTEG has published Campaign for a fairer Britain – A Manifesto For Ending Racial Inequalities in Britain and the Coalition of Race Equality Organisations has published its Call to Action. Operation Black Vote has done amazing work to increase voter registration in BME communities. It’s also good to see that some of the main political parties have produced documents
addressing BME communities.
BTEG’s manifesto contains 17 actions for the next Government to consider and we would welcome your comments on these actions.
Bristol Manifesto for Race Equality Event
On the 16 April BTEG had the pleasure of speaking at the Bristol BME Voice Strategic Leaders’ event.
The purpose of this ground breaking event was to bring together leaders within Bristol’s public sector to share their perceptions of Bristol in relation to race equality and to start to start the process of identifying actions that they can take individually and collectively.
The Bristol Manifesto sets out a vison for Bristol and a range of practical actions that the BME Voice Manifesto Advisory Group want to see implemented. Public sector leaders were very open about the challenges in Bristol and some felt the city remains ‘ethnically segregated’ and that challenges remain to increase the representation of BME people at senior levels in their organisations, as well as improve their service delivery.
In his short speech BTEG’s Director, Jeremy Crook, focused on leadership and race equality and the need for leaders to demonstrate, on a daily basis, their commitment to tackle racial inequalities as employers and service providers. This means working with their senior management team to mainstream race equality in everything that they do and to develop a culture in their organisations where leaders and managers are expected to perform on race equality. The Equality Act should serve to underpin the visible efforts made by public sector leaders.
Improving the culture within organisations is not easy. It requires leaders to put their heads above the parapet and demonstrate confidence in the subject. This in part comes from regular interaction with BME staff in their organisations and their service users. Tackling race equality may not always be ‘popular’ or welcomed by other senior leaders in their organisations. Unless this happens and leaders start to work together, the situation will continue for a very long time. Individual leaders can make a difference but collective leadership in a city or town can be transformational. At a time of limited resources, public sector leaders need to pool their resources and share their expertise.
The event highlighted the past successes of positive action programmes in the city’s housing sector and how that led to progression for a number of the BME participants. However, it wasn’t sustained. If leaders today, across the public sector, work together they can develop leadership programmes that are sustainable for both BME middle mangers and young BME people.
BTEG commends Bristol BME Voice and the City’s leaders and will continue to encourage and support their efforts to make Bristol the number one city on race equality in the future.