Christian Aid has a long history of standing for racial justice and tackling inequality of all kinds around the world. Our 75-year history has included supporting the work of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s during the civil rights movement. We also created the Southern African Coalition to demand an end to apartheid in the 1980s.
Over the past two years, Christian Aid has been acting to address issues of systemic and structural racism within our own organisation. In 2020, we commissioned an internal review carried out by external consultants into the lived experience of our racialised minority staff. We committed to five actions to move us closer to being a truly anti-racist organisation. Here is what we have done since making this commitment.
1. Create a new senior role
We have recruited a Principal Advisor on Race and Diversity who is a member of our Extended Leadership Team to direct our efforts. This role works closely with our CEO, Directors and Board of Trustees, and has launched a series of workstreams on leadership, people policies, and data and reporting, and project-based activities to address racial injustice.
2. Review our recruitment practices
3. Increase involvement from our board and leadership team
We have a designated trustee with responsibility for Race and Diversity oversight (together with the Chair of the HR governance subcommittee).
We have introduced an annual reporting cycle on race and diversity and produced our first Annual Race and Diversity Report in December 2021. We have also incorporated questions on racial equality into our annual staff survey and report on these in our Annual Race and Diversity Report.
We have developed in-house training on ‘Building Anti-Racist Behaviours’, in which all our Directors and CEO have taken part.
Race equality is a regular item on our directorate agenda, alongside HR and financial reports. From 2022, our Christian Aid Annual Report will include data on the race and ethnicity of staff as part of routine reporting on our people.
4. Engage all our staff
Staff engagement is and continues to be key to helping us become anti-racist. We developed a new in-house training module called ‘Building Anti-Racist Behaviours’, which is open to all staff and is now embedded in our calendar of training modules. This training aims to equip our staff to enter into productive and reflective conversations about race and racism in the workplace.
We cannot become an anti-racist organisation without recognising the impact of colonialism on our organisation and our sector. As such we have drafted a set of decolonial and anti-racist principles for discussion and debate amongst our staff. We are now in the process of internal discussions to refine these and integrate anti-racist thinking in our programming, policy, advocacy and work with supporters.
5. Commit to better data
We have invested in the collection and analysis of staff data and use this data to inform our decision making. For example, we introduced equality impact assessments, and draw on our staff data to complete these and ensure our decisions and major changes to our practices are evaluated for their impact on race and other inequalities.
We are continuing to invest in better and more meaningful data, and plan to collect and analyse data to understand how race and racisms play out in the countries where Christian Aid works around the world and where many of our staff are based.
6. Playing our part to change the sector
We recognise the challenges to our sector call us to go beyond addressing racism within our organisations, to address fundamental North-South power imbalances within our organisations and to which our organisation contributes, as a British INGO. The recent publication of ‘Racism and the Aid Sector’ by the Parliamentary select committee on International Development highlights many of these issues, the steps that have been taken across the sector and the gap that we still need to traverse to embed anti-racist and decolonial ways of working. Through our work we fully support building an equitable and inclusive aid sector, for us this includes being partnership-led in our approaches to development and humanitarian work, emphasising decision-making and action at a level where it is most impactful and effective for the people and communities we work with (i.e. localisation), and centering the dignity of the people we work with in our communications.
Embedding anti-racist and decolonial ways of working and being is a long term project. We recognise that these are initial steps and we remain committed to this journey.