'We have failed to even address, let alone tackle, diversity'

14 March 2019
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Harpreet Kondel is a Fundraising Specialist who sits on the Board of Fundraising Convention. She explains why she thinks the success of the #ChangeCollective will require a dramatic culture shift within the sector.

I chose to get involved with the #ChangeCollective as I have been a fundraiser for over 25 years and, during that time, I’ve seen the fundraising sector take a fairly relaxed approach to diversity. I suspect it hoped that it would fix itself. In reality we have failed to even address, let alone tackle, the subject. 

This is not just my own perception, but one that can be seen in research. The Inclusive Boards Report 2018 showed that 80% of the sector’s senior leadership teams lack any ethnic minority professionals and 62% of the UK's largest charities have all white boards. This compares to 8.2% on FTSE 100 boards.

So, in essence, we are lagging behind the corporate world. Given that many of the beneficiaries we serve are probably from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds as well, this in itself is quite damning. And – as if these figures were not shocking enough – I am horrified, but not surprised, to know that only 2.9% of trustees and 2.5% of senior leaders within the sector are women of colour; are women like me.

The Inclusive Boards Report said that “for many leaders surveyed there was a lack of awareness”. Continuing: “A number of charities suggested that they had never considered the possibility of diversifying their boards and that they were not aware of the benefits that come with a diverse leadership.”

'We can only address the problem once we acknowledge its existence'

I welcome the #ChangeCollective with open arms as I believe we can only begin to address a problem once we acknowledge its existence.

My own experience of growing up in the West Midlands in a predominantly white area is probably not that different to many other people of colour. I was called a “paki” virtually every day. So much so, it became the norm.

When I graduated and began work I found that often I would be the only BAME person in a room of 30 people. In all honesty, I have never let my gender or colour hold me back – but then I never realised that other people were using them to hold me back. The difference is that when you are a child, other kids don't care if they call you racist names. That, at least, means you know what you are dealing with.

In the world of employment the racism, prejudice, bias (or whatever you want to call it) is still present but it is insidious – so much so that you cannot call it out, because you can't see it, feel it or touch it.

While, for me, diversity has improved since I started out as a fundraiser, there will be many BAME fundraisers out there who do not see people that look like them in senior roles in the sector.

The #ChangeCollective needs to show these individuals that anything is possible and inspire them to be the leaders of the future.

'A zero-tolerance approach'

For me, success would be us as a sector holding those responsible to account when we witness inappropriate behaviour against groups or individuals with protected characteristics. We have to have a zero-tolerance approach and ensure that our staff are equipped to deal with any such behaviour.

We need to have a clear road map with goals and KPI’s showing us how we are going to deliver greater inclusion within our sector, and we will require strong leaders from across the sector to help deliver this.

“An equal, diverse and inclusive profession” will require the fundraising sector to undergo a dramatic cultural shift. Other sectors have led the way and we are just catching up. Two-thirds of the 10,000 leaders surveyed as part of Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report cited diversity and inclusion as “important” or “very important” to business. Apparently, diversity improves innovation and reduces risks – so what’s not to like?

I have no doubt that if we had greater diversity within leadership roles across our sector, our beneficiaries would benefit immensely. We owe it to them to get this right.

In November we launched our Manifesto for Change which sets out how we plan to embark on the journey to achieve an equal, diverse and inclusive profession where everyone is the right fit. We are encouraging fundraisers to sign up to the #ChangeCollective movement so we can work together to make fundraising a career for everyone.

Harpreet Kondel
Harpreet Kondel
Fundraising Specialist and sits on the Board of Fundraising Convention 2019
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