Sector's efforts to improve diversity 'unconvincing', says NPC publication

The think tank's collection of essays and podcasts has been funded by Trustees Unlimited and a recruitment consultancy

Charities’ efforts to increase diversity in the sector have been "unconvincing and ineffective", according to a collection of essays and podcasts compiled by the charity think tank NPC.

The collection, Walking the Talk: Putting Workplace Equality, Diversity and Inclusion into Practice, released today, is funded by Trustees Unlimited and the recruitment consultancy Russam GMS.

It brings together contributors from charities, funders and the public and private sectors to give their perspective on the sector’s attempts to improve diversity.

These contributors "are frustrated by what they see as piecemeal efforts at inclusion and a reluctance to give away power or pay for lived experience", according to a statement announcing the release.

The statement said that some of the contributors had "become disenchanted with diversity programmes they feel are merely window-dressing and do not address the structural inequalities that exist in society—and are being replicated at scale in the charity sector".

The collection also contains practical advice on how the sector can do better.

It includes contributions from Venu Dhupa, director of action and advocacy at the east London community charity Community Links, Kirsty McNeil, executive director, policy, advocacy and campaigns at Save the Children, and Rob Berkley, co-founder of the social enterprise for black gay men and former director of the Runnymede Trust.

Priscilla Baffour, global head of diversity and inclusion at the Financial Times, Karen Sheldon, equality, diversity and inclusion manager at the British Red Cross and Victoria Passant, programme manager for youth employment at Leonard Cheshire are also among those who have contributed to the collection.

Nathan Yeowell, head of policy at NPC, said in a statement: "What we have heard through this work is that, in a wide variety of ways, people feel they are not listened to.

"They feel excluded, undervalued and tokenised. We wanted to share these perspectives, as well as practical advice aimed at overcoming and remedying the problems at their heart, because we believe that understanding both equally is important for positive change."

He said NPC acknowledged it had its own diversity issues, which it was striving to address, but promoting diversity and inclusion was an important priority for it.

"We hope that by providing a resource for people who need practical help, and an outlet for those with criticisms and frustrations with the sector, we have added something valuable," Yeowell said.

"If we can start having these sometimes difficult conversations, we can work towards a shared understanding of what needs to be done and an agenda for change."

Sophie Livingstone, managing director of Trustees Unlimited, said it had never been more important to shine a light on the consequences of "group-think" in the not-for-profit sector.

"Asking challenging questions of a charity’s work and purpose requires different voices around the table," she said.

"At Trustees Unlimited, we care passionately about good governance and hope that, in sharing these stories, we can encourage more charity boards to better reflect the people they serve now and in the future."

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