IoF's decision to hire white man as diversity officer draws criticism from some members

The membership body says the officer has extensive experience of delivering equality, diversity and inclusion training

The Institute of Fundraising has defended its decision to appoint a white man as its equality, diversity and inclusion officer, amid criticism from some members.

In December, the IoF appointed diversity consultant Peter Fleet to help advance its diversity strategy.

But Third Sector understands that a number of IoF members have concerns about the decision, including some members of Black Fundraisers UK, the IoF group that supports its black, Asian and minority ethnic members.

Hugh Stultz, a committee member of Black Fundraisers UK, told Third Sector the creation of the role was an important step for the IoF, but the consensus among the committee was that Fleet was "an interesting choice", especially given the lack of people from BAME backgrounds in fundraising roles.

"The IoF probably means well but symbolically it would have been very powerful to have found a BAME technocrat for this senior, important role," he said.

In July, the IoF and the charity leaders body Acevo jointly issued a report, Racial Diversity in the Charity Sector: Principles and Recruitment Practice, to encourage more organisations in the sector to take into account racial diversity and commit to minimum diversity targets when recruiting. 

In November, they launched a Manifesto for Change to improve fundraising diversity in terms of race, but also gender, sexuality, disability and class. 

Stultz said there was a tendency to conflate issues of racial inequality with other issues such as gender and LGBTQ+ equality in order to avoid confronting it.

"The issue of BAME diversity is the most pressing issue of diversity in the fundraising sector, and that’s the one the role should focus on," he said.

Stultz said the IoF had "missed a major chance".

But he said he did not want Fleet removed from his post. Instead, Stultz said Fleet needed to speak to BAME fundraisers and have a clear idea of what success would look like and how to achieve it. 

Another IoF member, who asked to remain anonymous, told Third Sector:  "I haven’t met Fleet and know nothing beyond what I can see. Like the IoF’s chief executive Peter Lewis, he has no visible protected characteristics. I don’t know his sexuality or whether he has a non-visible disability. But I do know, from first-hand experience, that what people see when they look at you plays a big role in discriminating against others."

In 2013, the IoF and the Barrow Cadbury Trust report Who's Asking? Diversity in Fundraising, said that the fundraising profession was less racially diverse than the wider charity sector, with 87 per cent of fundraisers identifying themselves as white, 2 per cent as black, 3 per cent as Asian and 2 per cent as mixed race. A further 5 per cent said they had no particular ethnicity.

In a statement, Lewis told Third Sector that Fleet's appointment had been made after "an open and rigorous two-stage panel interview process".

"The institute’s vision is for a more equal, diverse and inclusive fundraising profession where everyone is the right fit," he said.

He said the IoF was committed to delivering the manifesto’s objectives, which was a "key strategic priority" for the board, leadership and staff at the IoF, and the EDI officer had been appointed to support this.

He said Fleet was "the best candidate for the job and comes with extensive experience of training on EDI in charities and local government.

"People need to remember that not all aspects of diversity are visible.

"There are nine protected characteristics under UK law, and our EDI panel has also considered the impact of social class on equality, diversity and inclusion within the fundraising profession."

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