Eight months ago Together began the work of becoming an anti-racist organisation
Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) says that every child should be able to access their rights without discrimination. Indeed, this is one of the 4 General Principles which underpin how the entire UNCRC should be interpreted. And yet the structural racism that exists in our society means that children and young people who have been racialised are disproportionately likely to experience breaches of their rights. This compromises their opportunity to grow up happy, safe and healthy.
Together is a majority white organisation working in the charity and public sectors, which are also institutionally white. Being actively anti-racist is critical to our role as both an employer and in taking forward our vision of a Scotland where all children and young people have their human rights respected, protected and fulfilled.
The Black Lives Matter movement has generated much-needed conversations about racism and racial inequalities around the world. However, it must be acknowledged that anti-racist activism has existed in Scotland for decades. Whilst Together has always supported anti-discriminatory work, we have not previously sought to embed anti-racism throughout everything we do. We know that needs to change, and that we have a lot of work to do.
Over the past few months, Together staff and Trustees have been examining how white supremacy negatively impacts black and brown people and how many staff and Trustees have benefitted from white privilege across our private and professional lives. We will continue to educate ourselves individually and as a team and to share this knowledge with our members and partners.
As an organisation, we have benefited from institutionally racist systems which listen, and give more legitimacy, to white voices and experiences. We have also been complicit, not always challenging where we should have. We endeavour to change this. In our work with members, partners and across government and Parliament, Together will raise and encourage action on the structural issues and institutional processes that prevent racial equity from being realised.
We acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers on becoming an anti-racist organisation, but we are proactively continuing to reflect and learn. We will strive to share this learning with our members. We also understand the urgency and need to act. In this spirit, the first draft of our anti-racism action plan – which we expect to adjust and add to as we continue to listen and learn – includes commitments to:
- Review Together’s strategic plan to put our commitment to being anti-racist at the core of our work. Translate this into tangible through a review of our policies and procedures that ensures our commitment to be anti-racist is reflected across all our working methods and practice. This will include improving our recruitment processes, to make sure the way we recruit people is free from bias and is anti-racist.
- Embed our commitment to anti-racism across our membership outreach work by building relationships with – and learning from – black and brown-led organisations and grassroots organisations working with children and young people who experience racism.
- Hold events and share resources with members to support them to become anti-racist in ways that are meaningful and sustained. We are fortunate to have organisations with a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding discrimination and racism within our membership whom we look forward to continuing to learn from.
- Set diversity, inclusion and anti-racism as a standing agenda item at quarterly board meetings to review progress and ensure that that we are being held to account on our commitments by our Trustees.
- Hold frequent and open conversations about racism and anti-racism as well as meetings every two months to assess progress on our action plan.
- Read the full plan here.
We are extremely grateful to the individuals and organisations who have shared their expertise and experiences with us and challenged us to be better. Our approach will continue to be guided by our members and experts from Black and People of Colour-led organisations.
We would be happy to hear from any organisations or individuals who would like to provide feedback on our action plan or on any other areas of our work. Please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Footnote: Throughout this blog, we have referenced our guidance document on using terminology to describe minoritised groups and identities. We welcome feedback and insight on this document and will be adapting it as we gather feedback and learning.