The Black Lives Matter protests highlighted that there is still a long way to go to tackle racism, xenophobia and discrimination, including in our workplace and the wider sector. The movement highlighted the systematic and structural racism that exists here in the UK and galvanised important discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion within the IRC.

We have been listening carefully to IRC’s UK-based staff, including those in our BAME and Pride networks, our Union and our disability experts. We have also assessed ourselves against best practice from other UK employers. While our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t new, we haven’t expressed our commitment to anti-racism determinedly enough and we haven’t matched this commitment with wide-ranging action that dismantles privilege.

IRC-UK has just launched our action plan for the coming year. In it, we make a series of commitments. These cover all the protected characteristics in the Equality Act and also those with refugee or asylum status in the UK. 

At the same time, we are continuing to develop strategies for longer-term, cultural change. We know that change – true, meaningful change - will take time. But we are determined to do everything in our power to achieve change at IRC-UK - and to start on that journey now.

Our Commitments to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion: the five points in our new action plan:

1) Stepping up efforts to collect and analyse race/ ethnicity data about our staff

With the consent of our staff, we aim to increase the quality and quantity of data we have on the race/ ethnicity of our staff within IRC-UK. We will differentiate between groups within the ‘BAME’ category to ensure accurate representation and appropriate action, we will assess whether there is a race/ ethnicity pay gap, and we will collect diversity data relating to staff turnover. 

2) Reviewing the composition of our Board and senior management

We currently do not have sufficient race/ ethnicity data on our UK Board of Trustees or senior management, which we will collect with their consent. We will work with the Board on a diversity and inclusion plan for the Board, and all our Board members and senior staff are already undertaking race sensitisation and unconscious bias training. We will create and fund management and leadership training opportunities specifically for our BAME staff. 

3) Increasing access for under-represented groups through a paid traineeship programme

All UK-based hiring managers will have access to unconscious bias training. They’ll learn how to write more effective and inclusive job descriptions. We will advertise new jobs at IRC-UK on different platforms, groups and networks to reach wider audiences. We will set up a paid traineeship specifically for people from more diverse backgrounds. We will seek Diversity, Equality and Inclusion feedback from candidates who apply for jobs at IRC-UK. 

4) Rolling out more extensive unconscious and structural bias training for all our staff, managers, and Board

We will ensure that all members of the UK Management Team and all Board members are given unconscious bias and race sensitisation training in 2020. The training will be rolled out to every member of staff in the UK by February 2021. Staff will also be invited to attend training on the history of development and its links to colonialism, racism and white supremacy. 

5) Ensuring mechanisms are in place so staff can better hold us to account

We will support, listen to, and empower our staff-led groups and networks. Staff representatives will meet every three months with members of the UK Management Team to exchange ideas and discuss progress on our diversity and inclusion work. This will complement regular online surveys that will act as a pulse check to see how we’re performing against our commitments.