We want to see a better society free from discrimination and its effect on inequalities. The voluntary sector is a powerful force for good in building that society. Sadly, discrimination does not only take place “out there”. It also exists within our own organisations and is reflected in the make-up of Boards, senior management, staffing, volunteers and service users.
It is the duty of everyone in the voluntary sector to ensure that we are doing the best we can for our communities. This must start with organisations recognising and working to dismantle barriers at all levels. Failing to reflect the communities we serve means we will miss out on talent and won't achieve our full potential. Fatally – it will result in perpetuating the very inequalities we seek to solve.
The general underrepresentation of many people with protected characteristics (as defined by the Equality Act 2010) in employment, participation, and volunteering is well-established in Scotland. The third sector, unfortunately, is no exception. CRER’s 2019 research (Charity Trustee Ethnicity in Glasgow) showed that 80% of Glasgow’s top charitable companies had no BME trustees, and only 5.9% of trustees of those charities were from a BME background. Our research also found that women of all ethnicities are underrepresented on Glasgow’s charity boards, and BME women face even greater barriers to fair representation than white women. Similar trends of underrepresentation at board and senior leadership levels in England and Wales were found by the organisation Inclusive Boards in 2018, and by the Charity Commission in England in Wales in 2017. A lack of board diversity can significantly impact organisations in several ways, and can affect decision making and governance, funding opportunities, and public trust and engagement.
But a lack of diversity isn’t just a problem at board levels. We know that there is also widespread underrepresentation in senior levels of leadership, wider staff levels, volunteers, and service users. As illustrated by the recent discussions on Twitter about #CharitySoWhite, conversations about diversity in charities at all levels are being held across Scotland and the UK. Hundreds of people have spoken up to voice their experiences of racial discrimination in the charity sector, and we sadly expect that many other types of discrimination are also happening.
By signing this pledge, your organisation will be taking the first tangible step towards solving this problem. We are delighted to launch the Pledge during Trustees' Week and plan to publish the list of organisations who have signed on the website as well as sharing resources around ways to improve diversity at all levels throughout the next year. We hope to repeat this pledge drive as part of 2020’s Trustees' week, with the goal of being able to share learning experiences and next steps.
We hope that you’ll join us in working towards making Scotland a better, fairer and more diverse place to live and work.
We ask organisations to formally acknowledge that the lack of diversity in the voluntary sector is a serious issue that requires action. We ask that they commit to tackling discrimination and underrepresentation within their organisation by agreeing to the following:
Our Board will take steps to measure the diversity of the Board, senior leadership, staff, volunteers and service users by all relevant protected characteristics.
Our Board will identify what it can do to achieve fair representation from underrepresented groups at Board, senior leadership, staff, and volunteer levels. We will set targets and take action for improvement.
Our organisation will tackle barriers which might prevent some groups of people from accessing our services.
WE WANT TO SIGN
If you also believe in our new vision for Scotland's voluntary sector please sign the Equality Action Pledge by filling in the form below.
You’ll receive a certificate to sign and display, recognising your support, as well as a media pack containing logos that can be used to promote your organisation as a signatory. Your organisation will also be listed as a signatory on this site.
Organisations across Scotland have already joined in our pledge to make Scotland a better, fairer and more diverse place to live and work. As the list continues to grow, here are the organisations currently supporting our vision:
Advice Direct Scotland
Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
Empower Women for Change
Glasgow Connected Arts Network
Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector
Glasgow Touch Association
Govan Community Project
Home-Start Glasgow North
Kirkshaws Neighbourhood Centre
Knightswood Community Centre
Larkfield Community Centre
Maslow's Community Shop
New Rhythms For Glasgow
Queen’s Cross Housing Association
Save Our Service Veterans Scotland
Scottish Community Development Centre
Shakespeare Street Youth Club
Southwest Arts and Music Project
Spruce Carpets Ltd
Street Level Photoworks
The Jenniburn Centre
Together For Better Life
Values Into Action Scotland
West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
Youth Community Support Agency