The latest #OperationTransparency panel brings leading voices from the BAMER-led UK voluntary sector together to create a practical vision of diversity data transparency. In this informative, future-focused discussion, we’ll cover the implications of charity diversity data for politics, data privacy, funding allocation, recruitment, and public trust. We’ll also discuss precedents and future battlegrounds on open government data, like the gender and ethnicity pay gaps, beneficial ownership, and grant allocation, to paint a broader picture of accountability.
- Jane Ide OBE (CEO at ACEVO)
- Paul Amadi MBE (Chief Supporter Officer at British Red Cross)
- Maurice Mcleod (CEO at ROTA)
- AmickyCarol Akiwumi MBE FRSA FCIOF (CEO and Founder of Money4YOU)
Welcome, everybody. We’re really excited that you can join us today. This is our second #OperationTransparency panel event. And at this time of government crisis, I’m really pleased to have three level headed leaders around the virtual table with me, with a strong track record, all of them, in their fields, and with a lot of integrity.
On this momentous day, we now know that there will be a change of administration sooner or later. We also know that over the past few years, charities large and small have had an incredibly tough time. So alongside some of the worst economic circumstances in living memory, we’ve also had an administration that consistently failed to run proper appointments processes for the Chair of the Charity Commission, they overlooked due diligence and objections of MPs, and they left the position vacant for several months in the process. We also have a Minister for Tourism, Sports, Heritage, and Civil Society all at once. But I hope that after our discussion today, we can go forward with a broader and more inclusive relationship between the charity sector and government.
Our panelists tonight have given us their time and energy to take this conversation forward. So Paul, Jane, and Maurice, thank you so much for being here. And for those of you in the audience, if you missed our first panel event at the end of May, the recording is on our website. If you go to money4you.org and look for #OperationTransparency, you’ll find all the resources and all the assets there. So now, I’m going to tell you a little bit about Money4YOU and then I’m going to introduce our panelists. I founded Money4YOU in 2014. And at that time, we were called Money4Youth, because it was simply focused on offering financial literacy education in schools. But from the very beginning, it’s been about marrying insight and intelligence with equality of opportunity. Over the last few years, particularly during the pandemic, we’ve rapidly expanded. But we’ve always focused on delivering on our vision of a world where disadvantaged and underrepresented communities thrive. So #OperationTransparency is a campaign that we launched in January to call on the Charity Commission to add diversity data to the open charity register, because that’s part of our vision in a number of important ways. Number one, giving people confidence to engage in enterprise requires trust and accountability, right across society, particularly in leadership. And secondly, our interventions and training courses are always evidence-based, including the needs and the pain points of our community. The evidence-based approach is critical, not just for us, but for many in the charity sector. And when you think about it, it’s critical for effectiveness. It’s also critical from an ethical standpoint, because we don’t want to make assumptions about what our service users need. But thirdly, and just as importantly, it’s all about community. We need reliable data in the public domain as a resource for everyone, however and whenever they might need it. So on Monday, we formally sent the open letter to the Charity Commission. And I want to thank you if you signed that. This week is particularly important for us. It’s a turning point in the campaign. But before we begin with the questions that we’ve come here to answer, many of which have really led from the first conversation we had, I want to introduce our panelists.
Paul Amadi is the Chief Supporter Officer at the British Red Cross. But more than that, Paul has a wealth of senior leadership experience in fundraising. He was previously Director of Fundraising at Diabetes UK and NSPCC and Executive Director of Fundraising and Engagement at MS Society. He’s a trustee at Together TV, a Non-Executive Director of Cause4, and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. And Paul and I have had the awesome privilege of both at some point or other leading Black Fundraisers Network, which then became Black Fundraisers UK. Welcome, Paul, and thank you for joining us.
Maurice Mcleod is the CEO of Race on the Agenda, one of Britain’s leading antiracist change drivers. Many of you will know that we and ROTA, as they’re formally called, have been partners together for a number of years. He is the founder and director of Marmoset Media and before that he worked as Political Editor at The Voice and as a reporter for the Independent, and later as Communications and Publishing Manager at NCVO. Maurice is currently a councillor in the London Borough of Wandsworth. Welcome, Maurice.
Jane Ide is the Chief Executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organizations, ACEVO for short, the membership body for the leaders of third sector organizations in England and Wales. Jane is the former Chief Executive of the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action and also works as an Associate Non-Executive Director for the East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Most recently, she headed up Creative and Cultural Skills, the charity which works to create fair and inclusive opportunities within the creative and cultural sectors. Welcome, Jane, I’m really excited that you can join us today.
Okay, so let’s start with the first question. And for that, I want to come to you, Paul. I want to ask you, to what extent do you think that gender pay gap reporting closed the gender pay gap? And to what extent are new Financial Conduct Authority rules likely to close the private sector board and executive diversity gap?
Okay, so again, thank you, Carol, for the really warm words of the introduction. And, you know, thank you for giving me the opportunity to appear with such an illustrious panel to talk about such an important issue. Really appreciate that. And there’s also, I’ve never been called level headed, actually, in terms of an introduction. So I’m going to take that away with me. But in terms of the kind of substance of my response to the question, I think that the harsh reality is that I think better reporting isn’t necessarily going to close or address the pay gap, such as it exists, because it hasn’t so far. So just to kind of put a bit of framework and context on my response, I think it’s five years now since there’s been mandatory gender pay gap reporting. In 2017-2018, the mean gender pay gap was, for the top 100 charities, was in the region of just over 11%. Five years on after mandatory reporting, that figure has only moved by 1%. So you could turn around and say that even though there has been a mandatory requirement for those large charities, for whatever reason, it’s not necessarily impacted at a scale that we would wish. Now there’s been all sorts of things that have happened since then. COVID, as we’ve just been talking about, furloughing, the impact of that, you know, there’s all sorts of things going on. And of course, within those top 100 charities, there’s huge disparity as well. But I just think that we need to be really realistic and recognize that mandatory reporting is only one dimension, and we shouldn’t necessarily have huge expectations. But I also want to, and I’m conscious of time, say that just because something isn’t necessarily driving change, or giving you the results that you initially anticipated, there’s no reason not to do it. We shouldn’t use that as an excuse. Because there is merit, as you indicated in your opening remarks, for reasons such as transparency, accountability, making better decisions, you know, as I could talk about within my own organisation, that having the data in and of itself will generate. So I guess the the essence of my response is that, you know, mandatory gender pay gap reporting in and of itself is a good thing. But we we ought not to have undue or unreasonable expectations about what it will necessarily lead to in terms of practice.
I can see my fellow panelists nodding. And, Paul, I want to push back a little bit, because I don’t think it’s necessarily true that increased accountability doesn’t lead to change. If we think about the case of gender pay gap, specifically, it’s clearly led to much more lively public debate, and lots of injustices being called out.
And who knows, that 1% gain may not have happened or maybe might have regressed if we didn’t have all of that. So, I don’t know. I think about, I don’t know how many of you saw on International Women’s Day, the bot on Twitter, which actually all they did was gather information, and suddenly they could reveal what was happening. And suddenly, overnight grew by more than 20,000 followers. So keeping it at the top of the agenda, keeping the conversation going, I think is really helpful. But I hear you, change may not happen immediately. And it might not be massive, but I think it really is helpful. Okay. All right. On that note, I want to then switch and go to you, Jane, how much work do you think that this proposal requires from charities themselves?
I think that’s a really interesting question, Carol, and actually, just to pick up on what you and Paul were both saying, I would agree that reporting data is not necessarily the driver of change. But the production of data and the understanding of that data, apart from anything else, I think you’re right, it generates conversations externally. And it makes it possible for people to hold organisations to account. But probably even more importantly, it actually generates those conversations internally. And it makes the team, makes the executives, makes the trustees actually think, to some degree at least, about what it is that’s happening in their own organisation. I think when we’re talking about anything that is regulatory, that is compulsory reporting or whatever, then there is a basic principle that the smaller the charity, the lesser the burden should be. And I’ve led small charities, I’ve worked with small charities all the time, I’ve been in the sector, and I’m very, very conscious, and when I’m talking small, I mean really small, you know, a team of half a dozen people, maybe less than £150,000 a year, whatever it might be. And there is a sense that it is difficult to have one more thing that you have to do when you’re already having to do everything else. But having said that, at ACEVO, we’re a relatively small organization, we’ve got about 16 staff, we’re not a massive budget organisation. Certainly in terms of financial management, I’ve got a head of finance and a part time finance officer, we haven’t got a vast department of people, you know, producing this stuff. But we’ve committed to producing our own gender and ethnicity pay gap data, and to publishing our intent about what we’re going to do to move forward every time we publish it. And we’re doing that because (a) it’s the right thing to do, exactly as Paul said, you know, it may not drive change, but it is the right thing to do. (b) because we think there’s a story for us to tell, and it will help us reflect on our own practice and whether we’re doing the right thing, but also because because of the nature of our organisation, as you said in the introduction, we are here to represent and support the leaders of our sector. So we very much believe that we we have to show our workings. We show how we can do it, and if we can do it, other people can feel encouraged, they can feel enabled, they can learn, they can look at us and say actually, we could do it better than that, whatever it might be. And that’s a really important part for us. So I think it is a challenge. And I think the smaller the organization, the more it feels like a difficult thing to do. I actually Googled this morning how to work out ethnicity pay gap data, and it went on for something like five pages, and it was these, you know, do this and do this calculation and put this in the spreadsheet. And I’m thinking, you know, if you’re busily trying to run your volunteer led, small organization that’s struggling for funding, and really is battling the cost of living crisis and really hasn’t quite got enough staff because there’s a recruitment crisis, one more thing might feel like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. But I think that’s why we have to, as we talk about bringing this into regulation, as we talk to the Commission about changing things, and I think from the conversations I’ve had with the Commission so far, this is where the Commission is probably coming from, that sense of if this is something that the sector is behind, if this is something that the sector will agree and feel is beneficial in the long run, and doesn’t see it as such a huge burden that they just can’t manage it, then then I think we could be moving in the right direction.
I’d really like to go to Maurice and Paul, because I want to get Paul’s view as somebody in a large charity. But I know Maurice will have a lot to contribute to this. But just before I do, I wonder, Jane, just because you’ve alluded to conversations that you’re having. I know that NCVO certainly said to us that they were having conversations with Charity Commission, and therefore felt they couldn’t put their name, their signature to the campaign, which is interesting. As far as I’m aware, none of the smaller or people-of-colour-led membership bodies who signed our open letter have had the opportunity to enter any regular policy discussions with the Charity Commission. That includes ourselves. I just wonder what kinds of conversations are going on, whether you feel you’re at liberty to share what the Charity Commission’s thinking is on this, and what you think the options are.
I don’t want to speak for them, you know, they can speak for themselves, and I wouldn’t want to put words in their mouth. But certainly, and to be clear, I have, for the audience, I have only been at ACEVO I think it’s six weeks now. So I used to have a relationship with the Commission when I was Chief Executive at NAVCA, but I’ve been away from that for 18 months. And as you quite rightly said, in your introduction, some things have changed, including the appointment of a new Chair. The previous Chair had a particular relationship with the sector, shall we say. So, you know, this is an early stage conversation, from my personal point of view, but I have touched on it briefly with Helen Stephenson, who’s the Chief Executive. And partly because obviously, I was so aware of the campaign and of having this event this evening. And without, as I say, I don’t want to put words in her mouth. But certainly my experience of the Commission in the past has been, and from what Helen has said to me, very briefly, I think the impression I get is that they are open to the possibility. But, and I used to work for a regulator a long time ago, and I know what regulators are like. Things that seem like they should be self evidently a really good thing, the first question is always going to be, What’s the burden? Because actually, there is a real commitment, and in many ways, it’s a, it’s a positive thing that can then sometimes be interpreted or misinterpreted or applied in a way that’s less helpful, there is a positive intent not to make life too difficult for the people or the organizations that you’re regulating. Partly because that’s the ethic of the of the world of regulation, partly because there’s a reality that if you make it too difficult, people will start to not comply. And if they start to not comply on this, then they’ll start to not comply on other things, and then the whole basis of regulation starts to fall apart. And I think one thing none of us would want in our sector, I’ve always argued that we want good regulation, because it matters. And we all know that there have been, you know, some tragic and terrible and shocking cases of charities and organizations in our sector that haven’t applied, you know, good regulation or good governance and what the impact of that can be. So I think there’s a space, my feeling is there is a space to work with the Commission on this. But they will, by nature, be very cautious and not move fast. And, you know, I think there has to be an element of, actually, for all of us as, I hate the phrase, but the infrastructure bodies, those of us that sit in this space of holding the ring, if you like, for the sector as a whole, and representing views from the sector, we have to really do the work of understanding what does the sector want on this and amplify that voice. And that’s quite a difficult conversation to have, in some ways. I think picking up your point about particularly some of the Black-led infrastructure bodies and other organisations that perhaps would like to be having these conversations, I think that’s something certainly, within my network, within the national bodies, I think that is something we are acutely conscious of. I’m very conscious of the fact that we have a privileged position based on history, based on long standing relationships, based on a whole range of privileges. But part of our role has got to be to try and open the doors for others, you know, those voices of those communities to actually come in and be heard. And that’s certainly a commitment that I have from an ACEVO perspective. Not an easy thing to achieve, because, you know, we don’t hold the the invitation list, obviously, but it’s something we would always make the case for.
Thank you. Maurice?
So I’m trying to remember the question, actually,
Sorry Maurice, I’ve talked too long.
No no, that was fascinating. I guess all I’d say on that, in response to what you were just saying Jane, is that, you were saying that the Commission kind of needs to feel that the sector wants this, I mean, ACEVO’s own pay and equalities survey found that only 25% of respondents are happy with the ethnic diversity of their boards. So it is something that, you know, the amount of contacts we get from, often from larger organisations sort of saying, look, can we really, you know, we really can’t get over this problem of diversity, let’s really have a look at all of our processes, our recruitment, retention and promotion. And so, you know, I know anecdotally that the sector wants to do better on this. And then sort of taking it back a little bit to the difficulty of collecting data. And yeah, you know, as a member organisation, so ROTA is a membership organisation, we’ve got 2,700 members who are mainly, by the nature of the, you know, the BME led, anti-racist sector, are very small organisations. You know, we’re talking about one woman working out of her bedroom, you know, and her local community, type stuff. Which made me, part of the question was, you know, one, what’s the burden on on organisations of this? And yeah, I suppose there is a burden to collecting that data. But I really can’t think of a sector where the sort of “Nothing about us without us” mantra should hold more true than our sector, than the voluntary sector, by nature. By our very nature of the work we do, we’re working with the most marginalised communities. And so it’s not just, Oh, it’s nice to gather this data, or, Hopefully, this will, you know, generate more things alongside. If we’re really, really going to be doing our job properly, we have to at least in some way reflect the people that we’re trying to work with. And so 92% of the sector is white and, I’m talking about, of the trustees in the sector. I mean, those stats, I was a journalist before this, and the stats for journalism are very, very similar. And unless we are, you know, you can’t fix what you can’t see, so unless you’re gathering the data, you’ve got no chance of doing anything about it, I would suggest. And it doesn’t matter to me that the gathering of the data in itself doesn’t solve things. Of course it doesn’t. It’s a another tool in the armory. It’s another thing that we can use to put pressure on people that say they want to do the right thing. Say, Okay, well, which of these organisations are you funding, then? Let’s have a look at where your funds are going. Are they going to organisations that are largely BME-led? And where’s your evidence for that? So for me, even for smaller organizations, and I feel like I might be pre-empting what you’re going to go on to, Carol, even smaller organizations should have this requirement, I would say, and not see it as a requirement. See it as a tool for doing your job better. I mean, I kind of think that the, I was glad, Jane, when you were saying about the job of the regulator shouldn’t be to pile on, you know, extra burdens and what have you. And I think that is a real problem for a lot of the organisations we work with, they really are tiny. And I mean, obviously, you know, the amazing work that Carol does, these are small organisations, but, you know, trying to unpick the minefield of applying for funding and charity regulations and all that sort of thing. So, so yeah, it’s not a, no part of me goes, Oh, yeah, just chuck another thing on because it’d be kind of nice to know, it’s not about that. I think this is mission critical, it’s mission critical for the sector.
Sorry, Maurice, I just wanted to kind of come in and I know Carol wants to ask some further questions as well, but I feel like I need to kind of, first of all, defend myself. I wasn’t kind of for one minute saying that there is no merit, or what have you, in gathering data, because I could not agree with you more. And I’m more than happy to talk about the rich conversations and actions it has sparked within my own, you know, my own organisation. But I did want to kind of highlight that we’ve still got a long, you know, we’ve got a long way to go. And then Jane, I was really struck by your point about, you know, when you started talking about the fact that the sector, all the infrastructure bodies or whatever, they want to respond to what the sector needs or what have you, and what the sector is calling for. I think one of the first things that kind of sprung to my mind when you said that was, Well, there’s a whole kind of power dynamic and power imbalance thing going on here. And let’s own that and kind of recognise that. How do grassroots organisations which have got limited resources get this onto the agenda of the infrastructure bodies in a way that is going to create meaningful engagement? And then my final point, which was why I really wanted to leap in on what Maurice said, I don’t think that gathering this data should be burdensome. If you regard it as a burden, or something else from the regulator, then that’s your mindset when you go into it, rather than gathering some really, really rich intelligence. Which is how we have tried to tackle this, as an organisation. I’m going to shut up now. It’s an incredible conversation so far.
Honestly, Paul, that was absolutely fantastic. You are on the money, I agree with you completely. And it reminds me of data around finances, for instance. Up to a certain threshold, you just need to send it in. After that, you need an independent examiner, then you need an auditor, depending on your size. And so you’re absolutely correct, there’s no reason why it can’t be structured in that way. And on that note, can I then check in with you guys, you know, what you think about how exactly the diversity survey questions, if we agree that they should be designed, how they should be designed and by whom? You know, what kind of questions. And I know I’m putting two questions together, but what exactly what do you think the public would be interested in knowing, and what would be useful, as we begin to wrap our minds around those questions?
Can I make a general point, first of all, about the point you just made about what the public are interested in? Because I do think, stepping back from this particular debate, and this was very much the ongoing conversation we had with the previous Chair of the Charity Commission, there is a difference between what the public are interested in, and what is in the public interest. And I think we have to be very careful as a sector, that we don’t get misled into thinking that what we have to do is respond to everything that a public opinion that is led, perhaps by the media, is what we should be reporting on. Because that’s what leads us into the horrendous situation of commissioners and funders and the public saying, Well, why should we pay for your overheads? You shouldn’t have any overheads. Every penny we give you should go to the mission. And that’s an impossible situation for our sector, and it’s one we have to fight back against. So that’s just one point I wanted to make about that. So I think we have to be very careful about that. I don’t know what the answer is, in terms of who should or how the question should be designed. It’s certainly not my area of expertise. But I do think there’s an element, and I’m going to pick up the point that Paul made about, you know, how do those organisations or those infrastructure membership bodies like yours, Maurice, that don’t have access in the way that those of us that are in a traditional white-led infrastructure body do have access? I think it sits in that space as well, because there’s something that’s really important for me about hearing those voices, those voices having that role to play in how we look at the data, what we’re collecting, what we’re collecting it for, what we’re going to do with it, and I do think, whilst I’m 100% supportive of the principle that the data should be collected, and it should be reported, I do think there’s still some question marks to me about how and where it should be reported, because I’m not entirely convinced that the report to the Commission is the place for it, I would say. And this is perhaps a personal view, but I think putting it in your annual report and accounts where your trustees are actually going to be taking notice of what you’re saying, and are scrutinizing the narrative and where you can put narrative around that data as well, that’s where you really start to see a shift in behavior and thinking and accountability, as opposed to simply filling in some tick boxes that to be quite honest, most charities in my experience don’t actually pay that much attention to. Somebody fills in that data, sends it off to the Charity Commission, it never gets scrutinised or discussed within the organisation. So that’s where I’m kind of going with that. But I do think there’s something about having that authentic voice from the community of, What is the data we’re looking for? How should those questions be asked? How do we frame it? And so on. That’s that’s just my initial reaction to that I think.
Can I come in, to kind of build on Jane’s point with a bit of lived experience as it were, because we are, and I’m now kind of musing whether there’s anybody else from BRC on this call, because it’s maybe a bit of oversharing. But we’re just about to embark on, and maybe I’m doing a little bit of conflation here, but anyway, long story short, we’re about to embark on our second round of an antiracism survey that we did. So we’re trying to kind of capture people’s experience of, you know, race, and treatment within the organization across the staff and volunteer base. And the feedback from this round has been, we weren’t involved, you know, from BAME staff or colleagues of colour, we weren’t involved in designing the survey, we don’t understand why you’re trying to capture it, we don’t understand quite what you’re going to do with it. And so I think that really talks to what you have just described Jane, basically. And then in terms of the more standardised demographic data that we kind of capture, again, you know, I think that we’ve got a significant issue with people not disclosing. And it’s because they’re, again, unfamiliar or not confident about what we’re going to do with the data and what purposes it’s going to serve. So I just think that, you know, that is a thing, that is an issue that as we progress this kind of conversation, I think that all of us need to be mindful of.
Completely agree with that, yes.
I agree. Maurice?
Yeah. Picking up on something Jane said at the beginning of her contribution just then was that it’s not just about what the public want, you know, what the public are interested in isn’t necessarily in the public interest. When you were saying that, yeah, I mean, as a journalist, I’m aware of that. And it made me think that, if it were down to the public, they would probably like to know what cars the chief executives of various charities drive, or, you know, the public would be interested in that. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a useful thing for us to gather. But in terms of this data, though, I mean, obviously, the organizations who are being asked to put the data together, and I’d be trying to find the smallest organisations you can possibly find, and involve them in putting together this work. So it’s not just the communities that are impacted, but the organisations that are going to do the filling in. And it doesn’t need to be, to my mind, yes, we remember why we’re gathering this data, it doesn’t need to be, I don’t think, overly burdensome. And it does need to be simple. And if we get to the place where, I don’t know, it’s almost part of your induction thing, a new trustee starts, these are the things they do, that data goes, it’s, you know, if this stuff is almost templated and designed well, it doesn’t need to be a massive extra burden on these organisations. And as Paul was saying, it’s not a burden, it’s a tool anyway. I don’t have an answer for how exactly, or who exactly, I just know who should be in the room, when we’re talking about putting this stuff together. And it should be those small organisations. And one other thing I’ll say about engagement with those small organisations, it’s kind of, it’s what we do, or what we try to facilitate. So often, there’s a privilege that comes with even, you know, ROTA not big at all, we’ve got four or five members of staff, we are tiny, but there’s an assumption that maybe larger organisations have, that just opening the door and going Right, yes, we’re giving you a seat at the table–that costs money. That costs time, that costs, you know, if you’re one person running an organization of three people or whatever it is, spending, you know, half a day giving your input into something that yeah, you want it to reflect your views, but that does have impact. I think that sometimes we can, and I’m including ROTA in that, you know, a slightly larger organization can be like, well, we opened the door, you know, you didn’t even want to come. Yeah, it’s, I think, really realising what the impact of some of that, even some of this fairly low key work can have on organisations when we’re talking about organisations of this size.
Yeah. Can I just jump in as well? Sorry, Carol, because I know you want to get some of your questions but I just wanted to pick up, I absolutely agree with that last point of Maurice’s there about about the burden that we place on, particularly for organisations that aren’t based in London as well. I mean, it’s slightly better now with with online communication, but you know, expecting people to turn up to a meeting, that’s going to take them a day and a half out of their calendar or whatever. But I just wanted to pick up on Paul’s point about the non-disclosure element and people not feeling safe to share. And this is in a slightly different context, but I think it’s relevant, so at ACEVO, when members join, and they’re all chief executives, or, you know, people in that role, whether that’s a job title or not, so people who already have, you’d expect, some security, some confidence and some sense of their power in the world, so to speak, we always ask people to fill out the monitoring form across all the protected characteristics. I’ve just been reviewing our data, because we’ve just done our own trustee diversity audit, and matching it against the community we represent. And I found it really interesting that across ethnicity, and across disability and across gender, no problem at all, very high levels of declaration, you know, up into the sort of 90-95%, really solid. When it came to sexuality, nearly 20% of our members preferred not to declare their sexuality. Now, I think that is a stunningly high proportion of people who, for any number of different reasons, and obviously, there’ll be all sorts of reasons why that might be, but at least part of that will be about feeling safe. And feeling that it’s a safe thing to do. If they don’t feel safe and comfortable declaring that to us as their membership body when that data is going to go nowhere other than into our own membership data, it does make me wonder. Because we’ve obviously got a long, long way to go, even within our own sector, never mind within the community at large, to make it feel okay for people to say, This is who I am, and it’s fine. And that’s a whole different conversation around this point about collecting data. But if we don’t tackle those issues, it doesn’t matter how many questions we get put into an annual return or an annual report, you won’t do anything, it won’t tell us anything other than, We don’t really understand why people aren’t sharing this information. So there’s a whole big piece around this, obviously, that the data is a proxy for, I suspect, or the questions about collecting data are a proxy for.
That’s really interesting. Thank you for sharing that. In that case, can I just ask then what kind of data you think specifically should be collected? That should be mandated, perhaps I should say?
I mean, if I could come in on that, just a couple of points. Firstly, I couldn’t agree more with everything that Jane has said. And, you know, part of the challenge, and don’t worry, Carol, I will get to your question, but part of the challenge is that, you know, if you don’t create the psychological safety to enable people to kind of declare, then the information that you’ve got is completely flawed and meaningless anyway. And you’re not even in a position in which you can therefore put in place implementation plans or action plans to address whatever the information generates as well. So, and then the substantive answer to your question, Carol would be, you know, for me, we’re in a situation in which we are seeking actively to capture data across the protected characteristics, we’re having lots of conversations now about how we introduce, and we’re sensitive to, you know, to intersectionality. And we’re also now working, not as hard as I would wish, around things like kind of social class as well. So, you know, I sit on a couple of boards as you kind of captured, or you talked about in the introduction, and things like, you know, the occupation of your parents and those types of things, I think we can, I think there’s real value in capturing that type of information, but, you know, so I just wanted to kind of throw those characteristics into the mix.
I was gonna say, I’m glad you mentioned class there, Paul, because I think that certainly back in the day, that was, it felt like that was the bit that always gets missed, in that you know, you can count ethnicity, gender, but class would always I think often get overlooked. And I think it’s certainly important. Certainly, like I said, I was talking about journalism, certainly you can look around the newsroom and go, Oh yeah, there’s a Black face, there’s a brown face and whatever. But everyone went to Eton. And everyone went to Oxbridge. And you’re not necessarily getting the diversity of thought that you think you are. So yeah, I’m glad that class needs to be in there somewhere as well. But then again, there’s still that tension, isn’t there of, you know, even as you’re talking there I’m thinking, gosh, yeah, easy for me to fill in the forms or talking about ethnicity and other stuff like that, if I suddenly have to start thinking about, Oh, okay, so, because class is harder to define, if I started to have to think about where, which school did my parents go to, or what was my so-and-so’s occupation, it just becomes, it does become a slightly harder thing to do. But again, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. I’m just, I’m just acknowledging that.
I would support all of that. We’ve actually been doing some work around this at ACEVO very recently, and published a report and the podcasts and so on around this. And I agree with you Maurice, I think, in some ways, it’s a particularly British conversation, obviously, and I’m quite interested, when I see what our friends across the pond in the States are thinking around this, because they have different categorisations, I guess, which is a kind of parallel, but not quite the same. But I agree, I think certainly there is some evidence to suggest that class, however we define that, is the root indicator, you know, that actually, if you look at that, more than almost anything else, because it kind of crystallises that intersectionality of so many other things, that actually, you can, I don’t want to say you can deal with the issue in kind of a more straightforward way, but you can get a very rich picture of what is going on through that one particular piece of data. Because it captures so many other things as well. But I mean, going back to your question, Carol, there’s a little bit of me that sort of says, Well, what would you want to leave out? You know, what would you not want to collect data on? And of course, that is a very tangible problem for anybody that is designing a survey, I know. But I’m aware, I mentioned the point about sexuality. And one of the reasons I’m perhaps particularly aware of that is because I know, there’s a sense of frustration in that community that even even the most basic data is not being collected on that, you know, when people are and organisations are, I think, more likely now to be collecting data on ethnicity, and collecting data on disability. But they’re still ignoring sexuality completely. And that has become an invisible demographic. And, you know, I think all of those things are very tricky, because we really do have to be paying attention to everything and yet not fall into that trap of the “What about”s, you know, well, we’re not going to do this, because what about x and what about them and what about the other? So yeah, we’ve got a long way to go. I think, you know, the journey is a long one. And we’re still very early days. But we have to keep moving in the right direction.
Jane, can I come in with a bit of a query here, because I, which is that simply, and sorry, again, Carol, I keep apologising, but do you think that it’s because there’s a degree of fear or caution on behalf of the sector, you know, in terms of, you know, sexuality, or what have you, I mean, we know the kind of slightly fevered nature of the public debate about this, and do you think that’s driving behaviors?
I think it’s probably part of it, Paul, and I think, you know, I’ve been party to this very recently, you know, in my own context of, I suppose, it’s like everything else, isn’t it? You know, we can generalize about a community. And I can talk about Black men, you know, you will both have completely different viewpoints, completely different perspectives, completely different experiences, but I’m gonna lump you together in that one category, probably not very helpful. And I think certainly, when it comes to the sexuality debates, there are some very, very, very, very painful, hurt, you know, difficult conversations going on around definitions. And I think that makes it even more complicated. I mean, let’s face it, the language across all of this, we just haven’t got settled yet. And I think, genuinely, you know, speaking as the only white person in this conversation, that does become a barrier because you kind of hesitate and you don’t know what you’re going to say because you don’t want to say the wrong thing. And that’s not helpful either. So I think there’s a whole bunch of things around that. I think there’s also a context thing that actually you know, racism has quite rightly been the area that has had the greatest focus over the last, certainly over the last two or three years, probably longer, but you know, primarily since 2020. And I think that has focused a lot of minds. And I’m, going to, at the risk of, like you, Paul, over sharing, but I have in a previous organisation, I spent probably the best part of three years trying to get my board to think about diversity within that board. And the thing that always stopped it was the what about, that you know, if we focus on race, well, what about disability? What about this? What about that, and the thing that actually started to shift that dial was 2020 and Black Lives Matter. And actually, and I hesitate to say this, but it was actually about understanding that we were going to get scrutinised. And that was a really powerful lever, a really powerful lever. And I suppose that almost brings us right back to the beginning of this whole conversation, because actually, if what is going to shift, really shift people’s behavior is the knowledge that you’re going to be held to account, you’re going to be scrutinised, then you have to find the ways of doing it. My one question would be, because obviously we’ve seen a lot happen over the last two and a half years since then, and I’d really be interested to hear your views on this, Paul and Maurice particularly, but has behavior that shifted because of that driver, is that meaningful behavior? Does it actually work? Does it really change things? Or is what we then start to see, people not necessarily performative, but doing things for that reason, as opposed to because it’s really genuinely been driven by that sense of the need for justice? Does it stick? And does it actually end up damaging the communities that we’re supposed to be trying to help? Because we’re not actually putting in place the things that really matter to support them? And that’s the thing that’s been bothering me for a long time.
I know Maurice would love to answer that question.
Sorry, we’ve gone off on a whole different tangent.
That’s okay, it’s a whole new topic and I’d love to do another panel discussion, where we look at that. But if I just focus our minds back on reporting, I’m really interested, you know, in knowing if you think, so assuming, first of all, that we’re not going to self report. Because it sounds great in principle, doesn’t it? But the reality is that if you leave it up to people, voluntary self reporting just often is a recipe for selection bias. So let’s assume that it needs to be mandated by the regulator. What I want to ask you really is, what do you think that should look like? Do you think people should be given the opportunity to join an initiative? Whether it’s a voluntary, open source data standard or, or what, how do you think that might look like? Because I think that’s the thing that would be interesting to know. Maybe if I focus that question a little bit more, and ask you the differences in impact. So what difference would it make between the proposal being self enacted, you know, by some charities and not others, and it being required across the board for the whole sector?
The first thing I’d want to do is actually go back and you may remember the Home Truths report that ACEVO and Voice4Change published in 2020. And in that, we recommended jointly that there should be reporting of pay gap data and other elements around demographics as well, particularly around race obviously. We did have a slightly different view from each other as the two partner organisations as to how that should be done and how that should be applied. The ACEVO view was, and still is, I think, that every organization should be required to report, unless, and there always has to be that one unless, and this is particularly true for the smallest organizations, unless that would become personally identifiable. But alongside that, that if an organization was choosing not to report, that there should be some narrative that explained why, so that there’s always that built in accountability. And actually, I think, you know, leaving aside the conversation we’ve already had about regulatory burden, and so on and so forth, and how and where you actually put that information, personally, I would like to see a really strong encouragement/mandation, if that’s the right word, for doing that, in the annual report and accounts, you know, I think that for me is the place for it. That’s the place where trustees really have to think about what they’re saying. And that’s where I would see it, and we’ve seen it in other ways, that’s where you actually see behaviors changing. So that would be my view on it for the for now, I think, unless and until I hear otherwise from the sector, I guess.
Paul, Maurice, what do you think?
Yeah, I think I’m not really a fan of compulsion, but I think this has to be, if this is just left up to organisations, what inevitably you’ll get is organisations that are either doing really well at diversity, will want to report, or organisations that want to do well and are serious about trying to fix it will report. Organisations that don’t maybe see the value or think, Oh, well, we should, we’ll get told off if we don’t do this, but meh, they’ll do it half heartedly. I think it has to be mandated, it has to be something that all organizations have to do, I think otherwise, you lose some of the stick part of it. You know, I’m talking about organisations that can’t be bothered, they won’t be bothered, they’ll just carry on not being bothered. And they’re often some of the organisations that most need to be bothered. So yeah, I’m very much, I very much think it has to be something, you know, if we have to report our profits and our losses and our everything else, then we should have to sort of report on who we are. I think it’s really, really straightforward.
Except that the Charity Commission would probably say that you’re not mandated to report on your profits and losses. All it does is if you don’t file them, they just show up red for funders to have a look at. But then the question is, how do we mandate funders to also report?
I mean, I’m really glad that you talked about funders, though, because in a way, they’re a voice or they’re a cohort that hasn’t necessarily featured, particularly in this conversation. And I think the sector funder bodies have got a role to play in this conversation. I agree very much with what Maurice said that, you know, that ultimately, mandating has a role to play. But for me, it’s about the broader kind of reporting ecosystem, if you’re in a situation in which you’ve got, you know, both the carrot and the stick I think, that is absolutely the place that we should be aiming for, you’re in a situation in which not only do you have to do it, but if you do it well, you’re more likely to be able to access different forms of funding and what have you, which ultimately is then going to drive your mission delivery. I mean, you know, that, for me would be the kind of Utopia, you know, that we ideally would be aiming for.
I agree, but that means getting funders on board. How do you do that?
I know, and that’s my point that, you know, we need to find ways in which we can.
But my question is how do you get them? I mean, except the Co-op, of course, the Co-op Foundation, big shout out to them, because I think they’re ahead of the curve, when it comes to this. But how do you get others to buy into this idea, and to report, themselves?
Yeah, I mean, the reporting on themselves I think is one I’ll leave to one side. But I think, certainly my experience from working with funders, and I should say, also, as a trustee of the Access Foundation for Social Investment, so in that context, this is a really live conversation, every board meeting I’ve been in for the last 18 months, it comes up, we talk about it, we talk about our power, as an organisation, as a funding body and what we do with that power. Now we’re not directly funding, you know, end user organisations. But we’re very, very conscious that there are levers that we can pull that will make a difference. And we’re not necessarily getting it right yet because like I said, I don’t think anybody’s really getting it completely right. But definitely it is on the agenda. In my previous role at Creative and Cultural Skills, our major funder was the Arts Council. And whilst there are all sorts of conversations to have about the Arts Council’s approach to funding, which I will leave to one side for now, there was absolutely no question that running through the expectations were themes and questions and challenges and scrutiny around this. So I think it’s, you know, I think different funders will have different approaches, and perhaps the smaller, family built foundations that go back several generations may or may not be in that space, I don’t want to make a sweeping generalisation there, but I think it’s actually become, and again, it’s certainly something I saw, very much firsthand, actually, in 2020, during the pandemic, when actually, not only did we have the Black Lives Matter movement really coming to the fore, but we also had the very real impact of the pandemic on on those communities. And I was getting phone calls from funders desperately trying to work out how they could get their funding to those communities, because actually, the infrastructure as far as they could tell, the infrastructure wasn’t there to help them do it. Now, that then is a whole other really big conversation about, you know, why did they not already know that? What did they do to support that infrastructure from those communities? Is that infrastructure actually already there, but they weren’t seeing it? Were any of us connected to it, and so on and so forth. There’s a whole bunch of stuff there, but I do think it has been on the agenda in the in the last three years in a way that it hasn’t been before. So I wouldn’t be too despondent. But I do think, you know, again, there’s a very, very long way to go before that becomes really, really powerful and really meaningful. And it’s alright for me to say that, but I’d be really interested you know, Maurice’s perspective, particularly, you know, from your community and from your network. Are you actually getting the end result of that in any meaningful way? Or is it all very nice, but actually nice words butter no parsnips, as my grandmother probably never said.
Oh gosh, I’m looking at the time and thinking I could literally do an hour conversation on this. Where do I start, so the funders themselves, yeah, what are the levers on them? Because almost every time, when I took over at ROTA, coming on for just over 18 months ago, so during the pandemic, and my predecessor, brilliant, experienced, knew everyone, Andy Gregg, gave me a list of, I think, 45 funders to go and meet. And it was literally white face after white face after white face, which is, okay, that’s probably not a surprise. But once we started to talk about our projects and our goals, I was kind of surprised to find out how often I was describing and explaining structural racism in a way that I thought, with a funder, that it wouldn’t, you know, there’d be a shorthand, and we’d be okay. And that’s been a real eye opener, to be honest, things that you kind of think, Well everyone knows this, well, no, you need to show that such and such actually is a problem, or you need to show that this will… And I know that there are moves within the sector to have, you know, Black run funds, and those are coming up against all sorts of challenges in themselves. Yeah, there’s a massive issue with diversity. So as much as we’re talking about diversity within our sector, and our trustees and our boards, you know, every single funder should be showing that information as well. But I don’t know what the levers are to make them do that, to be honest.
Thank you so much, guys. Javed [in the comments] is right, funders have power to create change. And I wish we had more time to explore this part of the conversation, because in many ways, I suppose funders can lend their weight to this. I’m just conscious like you, Maurice, that they do have a long way to go. The ones who stepped up, and we’re grateful for them, are only less than 2%. Because we’ve actually done that, of the total number in the UK, if you think about those who are registered, there are over 9,000 grantmaking bodies, and the people we saw during the pandemic didn’t even make up to that number. So we’ll leave that at the moment because that’s all we have time for this evening. And I do need to let our wonderful panelists go and enjoy the rest of their evening. But just before I do that, I’d like to take a few minutes to ask them what they’re working on, and how you can support it. So let’s go, let’s start with you, Jane.
Oh, crikey. Well, I’m working on getting my head around the whole new job here. But I think genuinely one of the key areas for us at ACEVO, and it’s one of the reasons I was so excited to get the job, we have done, we have made a huge commitment, you know, a personal, organisational commitment to doing everything we can to move this agenda forward for the sector. And we know that we work directly to support the leaders of the sector and that’s our role and that’s our remit, but we believe profoundly that by doing that, and by helping them to do this work better, then that has the ripple effect through the rest of the sector as well. One of the things I’m really excited about and really, really thinking a lot about, we haven’t got there yet, because it’s still early days, but I want us to be looking very much at what we do to support the next generation of leaders. Because I think if we don’t, if we don’t tackle diversity there, we’re never going to get it right at the most senior level. So that’s, that’s on my agenda, very high on my agenda.
Excellent, thank you. Paul?
I’m not sure I interpret the question accurately, but there’s, so I’m working personally on three things. So the British Red Cross, like many organisations has been blown away by the generosity of the British public in terms of the Ukraine crisis. So that’s the kind of point of focus for us. But now a second point of focus for me is turning some of our donors’ attention to the emerging, or the now kind of, you know, embedded food crisis in Africa. Because there is, you know, something happening now, in Biblical terms, or on a Biblical level. But then, within the context of this conversation, we have just launched a new version of our inclusion and diversity strategy. One of the elements within it is a new training and development program for emerging or future leaders of colour. And so getting that off the ground, securing a tranche of mentors, to really coach the future leaders of BRC is definitely taking up a lot of bandwidth. But happily so.
Excellent, thank you. And Maurice?
So how we try to unpick structural racism is by thinking of it in terms of arenas where it plays out, has the biggest impact on the lives of people of colour in this country. And so we’ve identified six arenas that we want to be active in and actively pushing for change in, and those are housing, you know, obviously, homelessness and race, a big overlap there. And that’s, sadly a growing issue. Immigration, taking on from what Paul said, we want to try to utilise the positive public perception of the Ukrainian refugees and try to use that to highlight maybe more problematic policies like Rwanda and things like that. Employment, both tackling things like precarious work in zero hour contracts, but also expanding that, to look at ways of tackling the cost of living crisis, which is going to hit our communities, it’s almost like, think of something bad, and then it’s going to hit Black people worse. So in each of these areas, it’s gonna sound fairly repetitive, so housing, immigration, employment, education, we’re doing quite a lot of work, launching quite a big project now looking at discrimination all the way through, so what happens in schools, what happens at the transition bit from universities and why the Black and brown kids drop out of university so much, so looking at all of those sorts of issues all at once. I don’t know if that was six, I’ll stop though. How can people get involved? Well ROTA’s a membership organisation, we have organisations and individuals, if you’re interested in race equality, join us. It’s free. We’ll keep you in the loop. We build networks, looking at specific issues of our work. And it’s all about collaboration and networking. So yeah, join us.
Brilliant, thank you so much. Well, you all know what to do. And please, a reminder, if you haven’t already, you can lend a hand by signing the campaign at money4you.org/operationtransparency. Thank you so much, everybody. We’re really excited to see you all coming together to take collective responsibility for positive change, because none of us can move forward on our own. And just to reiterate something that my panellists have all agreed on today, you won’t know what difference you’re making until you start collecting data. Okay. Stay in touch with us and we look forward to bringing you something else, funding dependent of course, always. Have a good evening, everybody.