Equality, diversity and inclusion
July 1st 2020 marked the start of a new SafeLives year. As we built up to it, the organisation had significant conversation about structural racism, equity*, equality*, diversity and inclusion.
This was 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 were 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.
To mark our new year, we published 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.
December 2020 update
As we reach the end of the calendar year, we want to continue to be as open and transparent as we can about the work we are doing, the impact it has had so far, and what we plan to do next.
Our statement and plan from July was never intended to be a single moment's commitment, but instead to put a marker down for the distance we know we have to travel. This is a process, one that should be methodical and deep, not performative. We should expect to maintain our energy and focus on this work for the long-term, undoing structures that none of us has ever lived without.
February 2021 update
We want to ensure we have a culture such that all parts of UK society feel part of what we do, encouraged that our work speaks to their background and experience. Collecting our own diversity data is obviously key to that and helps set a benchmark as we move forward with our ambitions in our EEDI plan. This report provides diversity metrics for our staff, Trustees, Pioneers and Associates. It is the first time we’ve gathered this information in this way so we can’t compare with previous years, but we will repeat the process every year from now on, so we will be able to look at comparison data in early 2022.
The report shows we have work to do to make sure our workforce is as representative as we’d like it to be. In particular, we want to do better in future in terms of our recruitment and retention of staff, Trustees, associates and Pioneers who identify as coming from a Black, Asian or racially minoritised group. Our EEDI action plan, above, shows the current actions we are taking to do this, and we welcome further suggestions as we build on that current action.
April 2021 update
The recent race report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is relevant to us all. Too few individuals and organisations have been carrying the burden of tackling racism and bringing attention to issues of race on their own for too long. Since this report was released, we’ve heard frustration, anger and sadness from those who have been doing this work relentlessly for many years. We are adding our voice in solidarity.
All 258 pages of the report merit proper scrutiny and while we quickly signed the letter by the Runnymede Trust asking the Government to withdraw the race report, we have read the document carefully before setting out our concerns and suggestions in more detail. We publish that detail now and will be sharing it with colleagues in Government, asking for constructive engagement on the content. This document was a collaborative process across the organisation.
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 our commitment is wholehearted and from every one of us.
SafeLives Senior Leadership Team
*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.