For years I have vocally campaigned and expressed my opinion, especially when it comes to putting race on the agenda. I have worked for the majority of my career in the voluntary and community sector (mainly as a consultant) and rarely have I ever seen a board or senior management committee that is representative of the communities that it serves. Whenever I apply for a job in the Social Impact Investment Sector, I take a look at the management structure as the diversity and culture of the company often speaks volumes.
Last year I applied for a role with a Social Impact Investment organisation that support purpose-driven individuals who want to work in purpose-driven companies. The scheme matches individuals with organisations that share a similar, passion, cause or value. Even the Board, Staff and Alumni were not culturally diverse, I applied anyway. While I was not successful, my overarching issue was the lack of representation within the organisation.
When another similar organisation advertised a similar role, I used the same protocol. I looked at the Staff (All White), Board (All White) Trainers (All White), Mentors (All White) and of the previous cohorts which totalled over 300 only five were visible from the black community. It was this type of representation coupled with the fact that local and central governments are again going to form more reviews, committee commissions, working groups and steering committees to address what we already know that it’s the perfect time to speak out. And there has never been more of a better time than now to have the opportunity TO TAKE ACTION.
I'm asking the same question that Andy Peters asked Pierce Morgan on GMB, to take a look around at your Board of Trustees and Senior Management structures and ask yourself “Why is it not culturally representative?”
I'm calling on, large charities, especially those who advocate for supporting developing countries such as Africa and receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations every year. To ask the question “Why is it not culturally diverse nor is it representative of the communities you serve?”
I'm calling on the schools, local authorities, local and national charities, especially those with large populations of disadvantaged and disenfranchised BME communities to ask the question “Why is it not culturally diverse?”
And I'm asking YOU the reader to take a look at the organisation you work for and organisations you’ve worked for in the past to ask the question “WHY IS IT NOT CULTURALLY DIVERSE”?
I'm asking the same questions that organisations such as the Runnymead Trust, Race on the Agenda, Operation Black Vote and BTEG have always and continued to answer, but whose recommendations rarely get implemented.
As David Lamey and Diane Abbott so eloquently put it “We as black people don't need another commission WE NEED ACTION and what better place to start than on the recommendations from the following reviews as outlined by David Lamey:
Home Office Review (Wind Rush Scandal)
Independent review by Baroness McGregor-Smith
The Save A Seat Campaign
So one way I have decided to TAKE ACTION is to set up a gofundme page which can be found here https://www.gofundme.com/f/bme-representation-on-boards-amp-comittees?teamInvite=hMsAVJZNT195cffm89WGkcBcxgoHyKlJBITaqvlpBT7ts49R6XRvMktgX39Uf7zl
At www.forbusinesssake.org, our aim is to set up a cooperative that is representative and democratically controlled by its members who represent the BME communities we intend to serve. The money will be used to pay Equalities and Diversity Trainers and Consultants to educate/train volunteers from the BME communities about the roles and responsibilities of governance to act as Trustees, School Governors and Committee members on the boards/committees of charities, schools, housing associations etc.
There are over 50 recommendations in the above reviews, and the Save A Seat Campaign aims to take ACTION to address them. So while the UK waits for more reviews, committee commissions, working groups and steering committees to address what we already know, the Save A Seat Campaign will be taking direct action to ensure that the seats are saved on boards that affect the lives of Black communities. And that an educated pool of BME representatives are qualified to have a seat at the table
Black Lives Matter, and systemic institutionalised racism starts from the top and filters down. You don't have to take our word for it, just take a look at any educational institution, public sector organisation or large voluntary and charitable sector organisation. Take a look at the Staff, then take a look at the Board of Trustees, then ask yourself the question “Is it culturally diverse?” Then ask “How many people are visible from the BME communities?”.
Help us take direct action to Save A Seat.