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Diversity in the charity sector

It may not feel like it at times, but the pandemic has not been the only news story of 2020. The Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of George Floyd in the United States showed that race equality remains a major issue in the UK as well, and perhaps one where there is renewed impetus to make lasting changes for the benefit of all.

The charity sector is not immune from these issues, with the recently published NCVO UK Civil Society Almanac 2020 showing that only 9% of the sector’s employees came from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, compared to 12% in the public and private sectors and 13% of the overall population. This is consistent with a report published in 2017 by CCEW that revealed the lack of diversity at board level, with 92% of trustees being white, older and with above average levels of income and education.

Why is this important? Apart from the moral and legal arguments to avoid discrimination and promote the same opportunities for all regardless of background, the 2018 report Racial Diversity in the Charity Sector published by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) identified four other reasons why charities can benefit from having increased diversity in their workforce, namely that they:

  • help to prevent ‘groupthink’ and encourage a greater range of thoughts and ideas
  • generate more income and outperform their competitors
  • are more innovative
  • attract more talent

Compelling reasons such as these should encourage charities to review their own position and take steps to promote inclusion and diversity to ensure that their leadership, employees and volunteers better reflect the backgrounds of their beneficiaries and society at large.

Guidance on how to do so is available on both the NCVO and ACEVO’s websites for those charities that are looking to increase diversity and reap the benefits that it brings.


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