The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child. These human rights make sure all children grow up healthy, happy and safe. The Convention ensures all children have their rights protected, respected and fulfilled by stating every child should be able to access their rights without discrimination (Article 2).
The presence of structural racism means some children are more likely to experience breaches of their human rights. To challenge this, we have embarked on a journey to become an anti-racist organisation. This blog articulates with full transparency our learning so far. As an organisation, we know our learning is ongoing and we welcome your thoughts on how we can further our commitment to becoming an anti-racist organisation.
Where our journey began
The murder of George Floyd and the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement that followed sparked a much-needed conversation about racism and racial inequalities across the globe. At Together, it led us to undertake a period of self-reflection about our own policies and practices. It brought to the fore how we need to go beyond supporting anti-discriminatory work and embed anti-racism into everything we do. It was here, that our journey to becoming an anti-racist organisation began.
What we have set out to do
Talking about racism is uncomfortable and difficult. It requires critical reflection of our thoughts and actions to unpack our biases and recognise our privileges. Sometimes, when things are difficult and conversations are emotionally charged, it is easy to stop any progress. However, to create lasting change and to truly embed anti-racism into everything we do, we acknowledged a strategic and lasting approach must be taken. Therefore, we developed our Anti-racism Action Plan. The Plan is a living document, which we expect to adjust and add to as we continue to listen and learn. It includes our commitments to:
- Review all our policies and procedures to ensure that our practices and policies reflect our commitment to being anti-racist. This includes improving our recruitment processes, to make sure the way we recruit people is free from bias and anti-racist and that adequate data is collected about our applicants at each stage of the application process.
- Review Together’s strategic plan to put our commitment to being anti-racist at the core of our work.
- Hold events and share resources with members to support them to become anti-racist in ways that are meaningful and sustained. We are also fortunate to have organisations with a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding discrimination and racism within our membership whom we can learn from.
- Set diversity, inclusion and anti-racism as a standing agenda item at quarterly board meetings to review progress and ensure that we are being held to account for our commitments by the organisation’s 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.
- Draft a guidance document on using terminology to describe minoritised groups and identities.
What we have been doing
Together is a majority White organisation and we work in the charity and public sector, both of which are institutionally White. Both as an employer and an organisation working towards a Scotland where the UNCRC is implemented, being anti-racist is a critical part of our role. One of the ways we have set out to do this is by reviewing our policies and procedures.
- We now ask candidates about their suitability for the role based on their experiences rather than asking them to be University level educated. This reduces the disadvantage experienced by Black and Brown (alongside other intersectional) entities who may be unable to receive higher education.
- We work closely with CEMVO Scotland to circulate our vacancies with the Ethnic Minority voluntary sector, Black and Brown-led organisations and its communities.
- We have become a host organisation for the John Smith Centre Minority Ethnic Emerging Leaders Programme. This is a personal and professional development programme aimed to remove barriers that can be faced by minority ethnic people moving into leadership positions within the public sector.
By taking these steps, we hope to increase the diversity of staff at Together, particularly in leadership positions.
The Together team has closely reviewed Together’s strategic plan to incorporate our commitment to being anti-racist at the core of our work.
Events and resources
Racism manifests in decisions about whose expertise and opinions are valued. We are working to shift this notion by ensuring our work reflects the experiences of our diverse communities across Scotland. Therefore, we have continued to promote our outreach work with Black and Brown-led networks to better gather and amplify the views and experiences of marginalised groups of children and young people. An example of this can be found here.
On social media, we have begun signposting our members to anti-racist organisations so our members can become anti-racist in ways that are meaningful and sustained. Anti-racist organisations which we have signposted to include: The Anti-Racist Early Years Collective, CEMVO Scotland, Scottish Refugee Council, Positive Action in Housing, BEMIS Scotland and Article 12 in Scotland.
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. Going forwards, we have set diversity, inclusion and anti-racism as a standing agenda item at quarterly board meetings. This offers an opportunity for our trustees to discuss how as an organisation we can change this to ensure Together’s working practices and programmes are mindful of the intersecting identities of our staff, members and children and young people we serve. In recognition of the intersectionality of racism, we have worked hard to promote the recruitment of any new trustees to reflect different genders, races, social classes, sexual orientations, religions, ages or disabilities.
We regularly have anti-racism meetings where we discuss how we can both further and review our progress. For example, over the past few months, our team has been examining how white supremacy – the belief that white people are superior – negatively impacts Black and Brown individuals. We have explored how much of the staff team have benefitted from white privilege across our private and professional lives. We continue to educate ourselves individually, share our knowledge and unpack our own critical reflections in our anti-racism meetings.
We are fortunate to have organisations with a wealth of knowledge and experience regarding discrimination and racism within our membership. We have worked closely with them to inform our terminology guidance which can be found here.
What we plan on doing next
Our work will not stop here. Our Anti-racism Action Plan will continue to be reviewed and guided by our members and experts from Black and People of Colour-led organisations.
In our work with members, supporters and Scottish Government, Together will continue to raise and encourage action on structural issues and institutional processes preventing racial equity from being realised. In doing so, we hope all children grow up healthy, happy and safe.
A note to say thank you
Talking about racism can be painful for those who have and do experience it. Together is extremely grateful to the individuals and organisations who have shared their expertise and experiences with us. This has and continues to further our learning, growth and change to create an inclusive culture where everyone can access their rights without discrimination.
We invite any organisations or individuals who would like to provide feedback on our Anti-Racism Action Plan or on any other areas of our current or future work. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.