I start my day with a daily dose of guided meditation. It took me a while to form this habit but now it is as natural as brushing my teeth. It is a little bit of self-care that supports my wellbeing at a time when so many things are out of my control.
We are living through very challenging times right now. The global pandemic has left many of us feeling powerless, facing financial shocks, missing loved ones, enduring limits on our lives to save lives. We might not be feeling like we have much control over our destinies right now and for many it has been a case of just surviving not thriving. When you’re in survival mode wellbeing is often put on the back burner when in fact it needs to be front and centre to help get you through difficult times.
So, what is the connection between being in survival mode, wellbeing and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion? How do all these interact? Well, our sector like so many others, is in survival mode. Dealing with staggering drops in income, plans on hold and loss of valuable staff at a time when services are stretched and we need more not less resources.
We’re having to make tough choices. However, protecting our wellbeing and taking action to build a more equitable, diverse and inclusive sector and fundraising profession is integral to our survival and relevance for the future.
The pandemic has shone a light on inequality to the point that it cannot be ignored. The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain communities, the global protests during the summer 2020 following the killing of George Floyd in the US and the subsequent increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement globally have intersected, highlighting a multitude of injustices. The mental and emotional toll of these are finally being accepted by many as fact and not just hearsay.
The truth be told that anyone can experience discrimination at some point in their lives. There are many protected characteristics. Some we are born with, some acquired, some visible, some invisible unless disclosed and many marginalised identities which intersect. It is therefore not just the responsibility of minority groups to champion change. It is all our responsibility.
When I joined the Chartered Institute of Fundraising Committee on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in November 2019, I knew I wasn’t signing up for something that would be easy or rapid in progress. The path to achieving systemic change never is. What has helped me is understanding and accepting that even small actions and small steps contribute to bigger change and no action I take is too small to make some kind of an impact.
I use little mantras to spur me on. One quote that I often come back to is this, "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." (Lao Tzu).
It is necessary for our sector and for our fundraising profession to take these steps. It is essential that commitments to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are not put aside until ‘better times’. If these changes do not happen, it will impact our collective wellbeing, effectiveness and relevance in the end. This is not a phase or a moment in time. It is our responsibility to transform our sector and build it back better.