EEDI Stocktake 2023

Published August 2023

In 2022, SafeLives commissioned an external review to look how we have been doing at becoming anti-racist. 

We did this because we wanted to learn from our work historically and from our initial responses after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, when we realised from feedback and our internal discussions that we needed to do better. 

Our aim is to transform deeply and so we want to go at the right pace, listening to our people. We recognised the limitations of our own histories, so we invited Kaveed Ali, Director of EDI at UK Community Foundations to talk with freedom and independence to our Board, team members, Pioneers and associates over a six month period, with the remit to seek out:

‘obstacles and challenges that SafeLives has not yet identified, mitigated, or overcome to move toward becoming an anti-racist organisation. Its intended value resides in establishing a foundation to engage and support the organisation with the questions it must answer to authentically and impactfully embrace anti-racism.’

As we would have hoped, the report is bold, and it is clear we need to do more. 

The report’s key findings were that: 

  • The organisation is divided in its ambition and sense of purpose around anti-racism. 
  • SafeLives lacks a shared understanding of what anti-racism means strategically and operationally. 
  • The organisation lacks some of the core capabilities to deliver this work. 
  • There are high levels of fear around anti-racism and what it might mean. 
  • Organisational culture is the key obstacle to delivering change. 

The report’s recommendations were to: 

  • Pause and reformulate staff training on anti-racism. 
  • Conduct comprehensive anti-racism scoping. 
  • Develop the organisation’s narrative and sense of purpose regarding anti-racism. 
  • Improve internal communication. 
  • Strengthen people and culture. 

We have accepted all the findings and the recommendations and shared these with our teams.  In response, our Board and senior leadership team have embraced the need to do this properly and thoroughly, starting with the recruitment of a new Director reporting to the CEO.  

We’re pleased to welcome our new Director of People and Culture, Dawn Codrington. Dawn joins SafeLives in August 2023 to lead our people and culture work. She has spent her professional life working nationally and internationally in the field of people development and change and transformation; working with individuals, teams and organisations to create positive people-centred environments.  She has worked with health and social care, education and international charities, including a global volunteer led organisation, where she developed women leaders on the Stop the Violence Campaign. Most recently, she has been at Turning Point, the leading health and social care enterprise, and Transform Trade, a trade justice organisation in the international development sector. 

Dawn says:

I am so pleased to be working in the area of people and culture, at a time when so many organisations are wanting to ‘do better.’ Transforming organisations to become places of genuine inclusion, belonging and well-ness deeply matters to me – as an individual, a member of staff and as a senior leader. This is what has brought me has brought me to the role of Director of People and Culture at SafeLives.

Dawn brings a powerful background and expertise and will start her role by working with us on a thorough listening exercise, to venture into difficult but necessary conversations about what we mean by respect and how we can create a place where everyone feels included and empowered through their experiences with SafeLives. 

She’ll also be involved in continuing and extending our equity, equality, diversity and inclusion work, as we make sure our core activities – domestic abuse practice, research intelligence, authentic voice, training and workforce development, and quality standards – are reframed in partnership with more diverse voices, and in ways that recognise that exclusion, including racism, is systemic in responses to abuse, and needs to be dismantled.  

We have also taken action around our staff training and our internal communications and will be working closely with Dawn and our teams to develop this further in the light of her initial work. 

We don’t want to prejudge what our journey towards anti-racism will involve, but a fair guess would be it will consider how we share power in decision-making, growing our cultural knowledge and competence, and taking positive action to lift up the voices and presence of survivors who have been minoritised, and the support services established by and for them.