- Challenges and learning since we last met
- Discuss the ‘Reflection and Learning’ element of the ‘Agenda for Action’
- Plans for the next meeting
Before the meeting, the Group had agreed to defer to a future meeting the discussion of widening the membership of the Group and making contact with other organisations.
1) Challenges and learning since we last met:
The key topics we discussed are covered in the next section.
2) Discussion of the ‘Reflection and Learning’ element of the Group’s ‘Agenda for Action’:
- The Group’s draft ‘Agenda for Action’ includes the following:
“Reflection and learning: Have candid and open conversations on race and anti-racism, and how it manifests within your organisation. This could also be framed within a wider consideration of questions of power and privilege.”
2.2 To aid the discussion about how this action might work in practice, some questions had been circulated prior to the meeting:
- Are there examples of ‘candid and open conversations’ that have taken place or are taking place within our respective organisations?
- What dilemmas or obstacles do we face in having such conversations and how could we address these?
- Do we know of any organisations (foundations or others) who are doing this well? What does that look like and could we learn from their experiences?
2.3 Members of the Group are at different stages when it comes to having candid and open conversations within their organisations – mostly at the very early stages. Either the conversations have not yet started yet or they have not yet happened at the ‘whole organisational’ level. In some cases, conversations between individuals (eg individual staff and trustees) have begun – and a starting point has been “power and privilege” rather than “anti-racism”.
2.4 One approach when working with groups of staff/trustees is to invite participants to give a personal example of when they have had an experience that caused them to reflect on race and anti-racism – and that had been powerful and helpful as a way into the conversation.
2.5 Dilemmas and obstacles include:
- How to prioritise anti-racism work within our organisations – particularly in a time of crisis when there are other competing demands?
- How to build genuine commitment and ownership of this agenda across both trustees and staff?
- How to support people to move from words to action – especially when it comes to them giving up some of their space and power (eg trustees)?
- What kind of leadership and tools are most effective in doing that?
- How might we work with individual trustees (rather than see our Board as a single entity) to support their development on this issue?
- Should we aim for all our trustees being completely committed to anti-racism work before we start moving forward – or focus on getting a critical mass of individuals who will support change?
- How and when should we commission external expert help on EDI issues – perhaps because we don’t have the time or expertise to address a related issue or because we are part of the issue (eg creating an inclusive workplace)?
- If we do start this work with a broader EDI or Power and Privilege focus – perhaps as a way of getting this work on our organisation’s agenda at all – how do we ensure that work on anti-racism is not lost or avoided because it may feel particularly “difficult”?
- What would success look like on this topic for each of our organisations – and how might we set Key Performance Indicators so we know if we have achieved it (and what process or satisfaction measures could we use in relation to things like staff involvement in the process of creating a diverse and inclusive organisation)?
- How much is our personal fear of “getting this wrong” or “damaging my personal relationship with my board” influencing how we are moving this agenda forward within our organisations?
- How and when might we begin to share outside our organisations the work we are doing on this topic (not waiting until we feel we are doing everything perfectly) – as this might help encourage other foundations to begin to tackle these issues?
2.6 The Group discussed how to use existing processes and external developments to start and develop conversations on issues of EDI, power and privilege and anti-racism including:
- The annual audit process: discussing with auditors how our organisations are managing risk – eg reputational risk (of not engaging with EDI or having diverse leadership), not just financial risk.
- The current review of the Code of Governance (which is enhancing its section diversity) https://www.charitygovernancecode.org/en and ACF’s new “Stronger Foundations for Foundation Chairs” document https://www.acf.org.uk/news/acf-publishes-10-pillars-of-stronger-practice-for-chairs-of-foundations/
2.7 When it comes to supporting trustees to reconsider or share their power and responsibilities – one approach is to ask them to reflect on what they are entrusted with. If they conceive of their role as being entrusted with allocating money – they may be resistant to giving that up. If they can be encouraged to conceive of their role as being entrusted with ensuring their charity has the greatest charitable impact – that may help them to think differently about who is involved in making funding decisions.
2.8 Organisations we are aware of that are working on anti-racism and related work:
- Comic Relief: https://www.comicrelief.com/tackling-racial-inequalities/
- Liberty: https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/issue/we-stand-in-solidarity-with-black-lives-matter/
- NCVO: https://blogs.ncvo.org.uk/tag/equity-diversity-and-inclusion/
We agreed not to invite any external organisations to the next meeting – but to consider doing so at a future meeting.
3) Finalising the ‘Agenda for Action’:
The Group discussed how we would use the Agenda for Action which includes a summary of our understanding of what we are being asked to consider by organisations led by People of Colour and from BAME communities.
The Group provides a space to consider our individual and collective response to these calls for change – and anyone joining the Group is agreeing to look actively and critically at the issues outlined in the Agenda.
A re-drafted version of the Agenda for Action will be circulated to members for approval by email and it will then be uploaded to the Group’s website.
4) Agreeing a New Name for the Group:
The following name and strapline were proposed and approved in principle – subject to final approval by all the Group’s members:
The Just Foundations Initiative – supporting foundation leaders to deliver racial justice in their organisations.
5) Plan for the next meeting:
The main topic will be discussion of:
- whether to expand the membership of the Group.
- if and how to engage with other groups/organisations.
We will also discuss any relevant issues arising from the forthcoming ACF conference (25 and 26 November 2020).
The next meeting will be on Friday 4th December 2020 from 1.30pm to 3pm.