The anti-racism movements of the past two years have shone a light on the pervasive effects of structural racism and inequalities of power in the IRC, the humanitarian, development and refugee sectors, in UK society and around the globe.
IRC UK recognises the inherent biases and power imbalances in our organisation, which in turn reflect longstanding historical and colonial injustices. We also recognise the need to confront and stop the harmful practices that result from racism and discrimination at the IRC.
Across race, gender and other protected characteristics like disability and sexual orientation, and for those with refugee/asylum status – those whom the IRC serves – we can do better. We are determined to keep driving forward progress in IRC UK and more widely in the IRC, as part of the global IRC network.
In 2020, IRC UK launched a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Action Plan, which included 79 important and urgent actions to drive necessary change quickly. This UK Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (‘UK GEDI Strategy’) builds on the FY21 Action Plan and sets out how we will continue to make IRC UK a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place to work through to 2024. In this strategy we keep a necessary focus on race and ethnicity but also strengthen our commitments to people with disabilities, to LGBTQ+ staff and clients, and to people with lived experience of conflict and displacement.
This strategy also seeks to complement the GEDI work being driven by global functions at the IRC within the framework of the IRC’s Global DEI Strategy and Action Plan, launched in 2021 and 2022 respectively, and our wider organisational Strategy100. We are hopeful that delivering on the commitments in this UK GEDI strategy will contribute to a meaningful change in the composition and culture of IRC UK, while also supporting the IRC’s global GEDI vision and objectives. Staff based in the UK will also be contributing to the delivery of functional GEDI strategies and actions led by their departments.
However, the UK – and IRC UK – are part of a geographical, historical, legal and cultural context that impact our clients, staff, partners and supporters in particular ways. Our size and composition, including representatives from many global teams and our own programmes, also gives us unique opportunities to act and drive change.
That is why the core of this strategy is action. This document does not attempt to summarise all the work being done at the IRC to deliver global GEDI commitments. Instead, it seeks to pinpoint where IRC UK can and must take action to contribute to that work: where staff have said there are gaps in the UK specifically and where they have great ideas that we can drive forward in the UK now.
These are things like setting out how exactly we’ll consult UK clients on UK RAI programme design and how we’ll compensate them for their expertise; how we’ll partner with migrant-led organisations in our communications; how we’ll grow opportunities for career development for staff from underrepresented groups; or how we’ll build accessibility into our everyday, drawing on disability inclusion expertise.