Local government body tackles sector racism

ANNIE KELLY

A local authority body has launched a programme to make it easier for voluntary organisations to eliminate institutional racism.

Acting in the wake of the Macpherson Inquiry Report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the Association of London Government has devised a series of guidelines to help voluntary organisations support an equal opportunities culture.

The toolkit, produced in association with the London Voluntary Services Council and social policy think-tank Race On The Agenda, also informs charities where to get advice on fighting institutional racism. "The toolkit says to groups that racism cannot be ignored, and works as a kind of A-Z on how to tackle the issue,

said Kingsley Abrams, chair of the association's Grant Committee.

"We don't want to be in a situation where we are indirectly funding racism. We know that different groups are at different stages of development and the toolkit is there to provide some practical advice on how to move forward."

Discrimination is a sensitive issue in the voluntary sector, given that so many charities work with disadvantaged groups such as the disabled and asylum seekers.

Among the issues charities are being asked to address are the fairness of their recruitment processes and how often policies aimed at promoting racial equality are reviewed.

The document also asks voluntary organisations to look at whether their board of trustees reflects the ethnic diversity of the people with whom they work.

Chris Ball, the national secretary at the non-profit sector trade union Amicus, welcomed the launch. "In many cases the voluntary sector is comparatively fair about the importance of equal opportunity policies, but unfortunately it's easy to pay lip service such a policy without doing much about it,

he said.

"You have to ask how many chief executives or deputy chief executives are there in the sector who are from ethnic minorities? The blunt reality is that there are very few ethnic faces among senior staff in voluntary organisations that are possibly deriving funds and delivering services to a very mixed population."

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