Equality, diversity and inclusion

July 1st is the start of a new SafeLives year. As we’ve built up to it, the organisation has been having a significant conversation about structural racism, equity*, equality*, diversity and inclusion. This has been galvanised by the killing of George Floyd in the US and the anti-racism Black Lives Matter protests that have followed in many countries, including the UK. It has also been given urgency by our team. They are calling for faster and much more comprehensive action, as well as greater visibility and structure for the work that’s underway already, to make us and the support we champion for survivors of domestic abuse as equal, inclusive and accessible as possible.

Racial inequality is an endemic and deeply damaging part of British society. Charities are not immune to that and in a number of ways have fallen behind (some) commercial organisations when we should be most conscious of the damage racism does and at the forefront of tackling it.

At SafeLives we have a great deal to do. As author Reni Eddo-Lodge recently noted, ‘the work of anti-racism requires a level of self-reflection… you have to look around you and see where you hold the influence’. SafeLives holds significant influence and therefore responsibility, too.

Today, as we start our new year, we publish a version of our equity, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) action plan. A version only because the document is a living one and is being added to with more content every day.

This plan speaks to the full spectrum of EDI issues, and the links between them. No one is ever just one thing at once, and our characteristics and identity can of course mean we identify with more than one protected characteristic. However, while the plan is designed to address equality, diversity and inclusion in all forms, we want and need to give specific prominence to improve what we do and how we do it in terms of racial equity and equality.

Our plan sets out concrete actions for 2020/21 linked to the following four themes:

  • Our team – by which we mean employed staff, our associate team, our Board and the SafeLives Pioneers
  • Our communications and audiences – covering the content, voices, language, imagery, formats and channels we use to tell the whole story of domestic abuse, including how we present ourselves, who we represent and are perceived to represent and advocate for
  • Our collaborations, partners and projects – by which we mean the many individuals and organisations we work with on projects, service delivery, and in informal ways, thinking about how we’re experienced by other people
  • Our service delivery – examining what impact are we having, together with our partners; what’s the experience people have of the domestic abuse response they receive which we have partnered in or commissioned

It also sets out how we will monitor our progress and impact. Before the end of 2020 we will have completed baselining work, which allows us to set a further set of goals for the next phase of actions and delivery.  

At SafeLives we hold the privilege of being listened to. We want to acknowledge that, and change the dynamics of the way we listen, reflect and act on what we hear and what we learn, increasing the extent to which we share or make space for individuals and organisations who hold expertise that we don’t, but also becoming more representative ourselves of the full range of communities we aim to serve.

We want to systematise our anti-racism and address inequality in every bit of our thinking and every part of our output. For example, by the end of the first quarter of our new reporting year we will:

  • Actively use robust baseline data for our staff, Pioneers, Trustees and associate team, to inform our end-end HR processes, from recruitment and induction, to in-role support, processes for progression and training
  • Audit stakeholder experiences and perceptions of us, with a commitment to really hearing people, and acting on gaps and challenges that this highlights
  • Keep expanding the range of paid support we get from expert critical friends, acting on our collective and individual responsibilities to learn for ourselves while also acting on what we hear from those who have expertise and experience that we don’t
  • Introduce an assessment process for all our projects and programmes which will apply an EDI lens to the work, setting initial expectations and aspirations and identifying likely risks and problems. This assessment will be a guide and checkpoint throughout the lifetime of a project/programme. We will take the same approach to our own individual objectives for 2020/21.

These examples are just a snapshot; fuller details are included in the plan.

We publish this statement, our plan and our Board statement today because we want to be transparent and accountable not just for making a declaration, but for the substantive action we want to take. We publish knowing that our plans need to keep being made more comprehensive, but also in the spirit of wanting to take an important step, as our new year begins, to publicly state our commitment and direction.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely to be because you know us, and care about our work. We encourage you to contribute, if you would like to, telling us your perceptions and experience of us, making suggestions – thank you to those of you who have already!

We will do the work, that’s our responsibility. But we welcome any input as we do so. Some change will be quick, some will take longer. But as we start this new year our commitment is wholehearted and from every one of us.

SafeLives Senior Leadership Team

July 1st, 2020

*We consider that both equity and equality are important at this stage of our development. At the moment, we want to recognise the additional barriers in way of many people mean we can’t jump straight to equality and need to take an equity approach. However, that is a stepping-stone on the way to equality – not a substitute for it.