Meeting 20 – 25/10/22

Just Foundations Initiative


We all agreed that it was great to be able to meet together in person for the first time.  Everyone thanked Stew for arranging the venue and lunch.

Prior to the meeting, a number of suggestions had been made for the points we could cover today.  These were:

Outline Agenda   Checking in and getting comfortable.   Quick recap of JFI’s groundrules (and action plan?).  These were also re-circulated prior to the meeting and are attached to these notes.   The questions we would like to consider today:   How are we doing on the goals we set ourselves; what has held us back; what has enabled or empowered us; what do we now need for what’s ahead:As individuals?As a group (the Just Foundations Initiative)?   Specifically relating to recruitment: what have been our challenges and successes?  How have things actively improved in our organisation’s staff recruitment for a more racially diverse team?  What advice would we give others on this?   What’s the next two or three steps for each of us on our racial justice journey given all the above ?   How can the Just Foundations group and initiative assist and support us in this work – personally and practically?       Practical Matters:Arrangements for JFI’s next meeting (date, theme, lead, note-taker, and potential new member).Website admin.   Checking out.  

The Group agreed this structure was a good place to start.

The Group agreed we would take collective responsibility for moving through the agenda.

  1. Checking In:

As it was Victoria’s first meeting of the Group we took it in turns to go round and briefly introduced ourselves and we said one thing we would like to discuss or get from today’s session:

  • Stew (Wembley National Stadium Trust):

Would like to explore the forthcoming recruitment process WNST will be undertaking.  How to approach it positively and how to retain people.

  • Paul (Smallwood Trust):

Would like to use this time to re-set himself, to be better able to take forward the next phase of work on EDI in ST –

  • Joe (Buttle UK):

Would like to have a discussion about Derek Bardowell’s latest book (Giving Back: how to do good better) which is very challenging to those of us in the funding sector.  Joe suggested we all read the book and possibly discuss it at the Group’s next meeting.  The Group could perhaps do something similar – like a book group – for other books relevant to our focus.  [this 14 minute video contains some of the key points from the book]

  • Victoria:

Would like to use this session and participation in this Group to re-energise and refocus her work on EDI.  With a small team which also runs a sheltered housing operation it can be a challenge to give EDI the attention it deserves.  She would like to discuss and learn how to keep racial justice higher on the agenda in her organisation.  She would also like to know more about how to examine and take action related to racial equity and the origins of a foundation’s wealth.

  • Sally (Barnwood Trust):

Would welcome some discussion on a new post being created by BT.  Would also like some reflection on her Personal Action Plan: she has achieved some things on it but not the ‘stretch’ elements – ie the hard things.

  • Mark (UnLtd):

Would like to distill 2 or 3 priorities for himself and the Group: priorities which should be challenging/stretching/ambitious activities or targets.

Mark has not found the Group as challenging as he would like it to be and as he thinks it could be, to help push Mark forward in this work.

In UnLtd at the moment there is a tension between a political approach to EDI and a broader, deeper commitment to EDI.  The politicised dogma can prevent a deeper shift that enables true belonging for everyone within the organisation.

  • James (Joseph Levy Foundation):

Would like to examine the issue of accountability – for us as individuals and for this Group –

which is a theme the Group has always been aware we need constantly to address.

  • Recruitment: what have been our challenges and successes? 
  • Joe:

Time is a key challenge – both short timescales and the amount of time available in the day for Joe and other managers.

Joe feels BUK did well on its trustee recruitment pack.  Joe spent a lot of time preparing it and spoke to various people including Malcolm John at Action for Trustee Racial Diversity.  

ACTION:  Joe will share the trustee recruitment pack with the Group.

But there is more time pressure when it comes to staff recruitment.  Joe believes that grant officer vacancies should target frontline staff from social care organisations who have a clear understanding of need. BUK has been transparent about the benefits and the structure of jobs (eg hybrid working) but it does not seem to have made much difference.

Key learning points for Joe are:

  • you should know what good recruitment looks like (in relation to EDI and racial equity), and ideally have systems in place, before you need it, so that time pressure doesn’t undermine the process when it comes to EDI outcomes.
  • grantmaking experience should be removed as a requirement from person specs for grantmaking posts.  Grantmaking can be learned once in the job.  Other skills and experience are more important.
  • Paul:

ST has achieved good board diversity and has had two rounds of its successful Board Shadowing Programme and has an inclusive induction programme and provides ongoing training and support for staff to acquire grantmaking skills.  The next round of recruitment will focus more on seeking people with co-production skills.

ST will aim to invite candidates for a ‘discussion’ rather than an ‘interview’ as part of a revised approach to its recruitment processes

  • Mark:

Recruitment needs to encourage people with lived experience to apply, and then provide a level playing field so they stand their best chance of being appointed.  White supremacist thinking can mean we focus on competitive, interrogative approaches which favour those with privilege and learned expertise.

We need to recruit for a sense of purpose, values, talent and potential.  The best way of  identifying these is not the traditional recruitment process – it needs a more discursive, relational process.

  • Stew:

WSNT communicates the diversity of what it does through the images it uses in its publicity.

It also offered video applications for its young trustee recruitment round.

  • Victoria:

In HUC, Victoria has sought to go as far as possible with positive action [which is legal, whereas positive discrimination is not] the staff team is diverse and we have actively recruited a young man from the Somali community onto the Board. 

  • James:

Based on his recent experience of a recruitment agency being used to appoint his successor, James is not certain whether the professed EDI credentials of recruitment agencies leads to more just outcomes, not least as they are part of the existing system.  Paul echoed this point.

  • Sally:

For its recruitment BT relies on its local population (Gloucestershire) which is 4% People of Colour, but there are useful local intermediaries to reach that population.  BT is no longer asking for CVs and is now just using competency-based and values-based questions.

It is possible that publicly adopting some standards (eg becoming a Disability Confident Employer) might make your organisation more attractive to People of Colour as it may indicate to potential applicants that you are addressing EDI issues.

BT has also offered video applications for recruitment and offers potential applicants the opportunity to book a time (via Calendly) with Sally to discuss the role.

BT is in the process of creating a new role focussed on racial justice, which follows work on the origins of BT’s wealth.  BT has made a public commitment to create a role which will check its Theory of Change to ensure it is relevant to People of Colour in the county.  BT is clear that the focus of the post is not to lead on EDI work for the Trust – which is Sally’s responsibility.  The post’s focus will be on collaborating with organisations led by People of Colour to look at BT’s Theory of Change to help identify what BT needs to do differently.  Sally is currently checking out the job description and person spec with people and organisations locally and has taken it to the People Committee of BT’s board.  There is one main minority ethnic community in the county concentrated in Gloucester but with very small numbers distributed across the county.  There is also an age divide.  There is currently a difference of view about what to call the post and Sally is looking for ideas and suggestions for a different way to think about the post – what it should be called and how it should work.

Paul wondered whether the role was actually more than one post given some of the tasks identified.  Stew wondered what the response might be if someone from outside one of the local minority ethnic communities was appointed.

Mark said that representation for representation’s sake is problematic and wondered whether it was necessary for this role.  It may be that lived experience and inclusive facilitation skills may be more important.  Is seems more of a Community Engagement Officer role, reporting to Sally.  One option would be to have a mix of local people of colour on the recruitment panel.  Another option would be to set up a community advisory group, also reporting directly to Sally so that it feels it has some power or influence.  Sally said one of the responsibilities of the role will be to set up a reference panel for the ongoing work.

Mark wondered whether what was needed at this stage was a permanent employed post or whether a consultant would be better.  Sally said it needs to be a post in order to demonstrate good faith with the community.  Mark suggested Sally speak to Vanessa Thomas at Decolonising Wealth who may have ideas or suggestions for moving forward with the post and associated work.

Sally said that BT is being challenged by the communities to commit money upfront, to be distributed to or allocated by those communities.  Mark asked whether an initial pledge could be made from income, with a further commitment coming from capital in due course.  Sally said that BT’s board has committed £20m over 5 years and a further £20m for the longer term. 

Paul and Joe said that ST and BUK are working jointly with others to launch a Participatory Grantmaking Programme in Middlesborough in the next 12-18 months, but there is local pushback to receive money sooner.  The funders are now looking to commit up to £25k for local groups to be able to engage with the process in that period. 

  • What’s the next two or three steps for each of us on our racial justice?
  • Paul:

The EDI Audit recommendations were shared with the Board and were approved as part of the next phase of the EDI work.

ST has expanded its internal EDI Group comprised of staff and trustees to include Khazana Khan, external HR consultant and Anj Handa, founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers and who is supporting ST’s board development work.

The expanded EDI Group will be reviewing the process to date and agreeing next steps at their meeting scheduled for the 1st December.

ST’s grantmaking and board shadowing programme which are justice-focussed are very positive. 

Key reflection/learning points for Paul are:

  • The challenges and time to take forward organizational culture initiatives effectively and how to support others to help him do this.

As a leader, how to effectively shift power to staff and support them to take the racial justice work forward

  • Sally:

Sally said that BT is using a very good consultant (Letesia Gibson – Time for New Ways) who has provided training based on Transactional Analysis for the senior management team.  It has shown Sally how people act out their personal stuff in the workplace.  This can produce white fragility responses which lead to disruption.  BT has also done some work on emotional intelligence and used MBTI [Myers Briggs Type Indicator].

Key reflection/learning points for Sally are:

  • to be really clear with all staff and trustees why BT is doing racial justice work.
  • recognising where people are starting from in their journey on this topic, and that everyone has their own lived experience, which might include disability, class, etc.
  • getting the pace of change right – not rushing but not prevaricating.
  • Mark:

Mark reflected that the “people stuff” is the hardest part of EDI and racial justice work and ensuring that psychological safety is created and sustained is key.  UnLtd’s EDI audit was profoundly uncomfortable and around 90% of the people have become comfortable with the discomfort (ie recognising it is necessary for progress) but 10% have not.  UnLtd has just produced a “1 year on” update on its EDI audit.

For Mark, the key issue ie “belonging” rather than simply diversity or inclusion.  This is particularly challenging in a world of hybrid working with staff based around the country, and after a challenging EDI process.

Mark believes he is not good at challenging himself enough.  Today’s discussion has helped reinforce Mark’s ‘investment mindset’ – the need to invest in the organisation in order to move racial justice work forward.  This includes developing greater self-understanding and understanding of others.  It is also important to develop an understanding of how the organisation is perceived externally.

Key reflection/learning points for Mark are:

  • how to achieve a shift of culture within the organisation – from inclusion based on demographics to belonging based on values?
  • mindset is crucial – but how do we recruit for that?
  • where is he getting the challenge he needs to do better on racial justice in his role?

Mark would like a forthcoming next session of the Group to focus on ‘Endowments and the Foundations of Social Justice’ and he would be happy to prepare and lead a session on that topic.

  • James:

James will be reviewing his Personal Action Plan following his forthcoming change of role.  One of the things he would like to develop in his next role is to be able to let go of control while holding accountability for racial justice work.

  • Stew:

Based on today’s discussion, Stew will re-work the job description for WNST’s forthcoming recruitment round.

  • Victoria:

Will complete her Personal Action Plan and share it with the Group.

If HUC is not able to appoint a Head of Grants and Community tomorrow, VH will adopt the recruitment process being used by BT.

Paul said that ACO had invited him and Joe, at very short notice, to present something on EDI (with a strong racial justice focus) at their recent annual conference.  Paul and Joe had previously offered to lead a session on this at the conference.  Joe and Paul led a panel session, along with someone from the RAF Benevolent Fund, and at the end of the session there was a strong call for ACO to do more on EDI.  A date has been set in November for a group (including Paul, Joe, RAF Benevolent Fund and Glasspool Charity Trust) to meet to look at taking that forward.

This is a very positive outcome, not least because in total, ACO members distribute in the region of £400m to £500m in grants to individuals annually.

  • Engaging with ACF:

Mark suggested picking up our engagement with ACF through Ambreen Shah (Smallwood Trust trustee) who is currently ACF’s Interim Director of External Affairs.

  • JFI Website:

Joe kindly agreed to take on the administration of the JFI website as James’ is stepping down from the group after this meeting as he will no longer be a Chief Executive when he leaves the Joseph Levy Foundation in a few weeks’ time.

  • Date of Next Meeting:

Friday 16 December 2022:  11.30am to 12.30pm on Zoom.

The main topics will be:

  • a discussion of the implications for our work of Derek Bardowell’s book:  Giving Back: how to do good better.
  • a discussion of a research proposal for a racial justice index which Mark will circulate before the meeting.

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