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Inclusion is fundamental to our purpose and mission at Barnardo's

Release Date: 24 Sep 2018

At the start of National Inclusion Week (24-30 Sept) it’s a good time to take stock of the progress we’ve made as an organisation, and the journey we still need to travel, writes Barnardo's Chief Executive Javed Khan


In July Barnardo’s proudly threw its support behind the campaign for civil marriage equality in Northern Ireland - the first children’s charity to sign up.

Sometimes your values mean you have to put your head above the parapet.

Across the UK, we work with LGBT young people, parents and carers, and were particularly pleased when we received a Third Sector Equality Award from Pink News last year

But at the start of National Inclusion Week (24-30 Sept), it’s a good time to take stock of the progress we’ve made, and the journey we still need to travel.

Barnardo’s believes in the unique worth of every individual, and to translate this core value into real change for children, we’ve placed diversity at the heart of our ambitious 10 year Corporate Strategy.

One challenge across our sector is creating a workforce that is representative of the communities we support, so we can, fully empathise and meet everyone’s needs in ways that work for them.

In 2016 we set ambitious targets to make sure we become more diverse and inclusive. By the end of the decade we want a 50% increase in success rates for BAME recruitment and in the attraction rate for disabled applicants too. And we want to raise BAME volunteer representation from 3% to 10%; young volunteers from 31% to 40%; and over 65s from 5% to 25%.

Our latest data tells us that close to 20% of the children and parents we support are BAME, 10% of new staff are BAME and 14% of our volunteers, which is above the current target. A fifth of our trustees are BAME and 43% are women.

We’ve also:

  • Eliminated unconscious bias in our recruitment process, by introducing name-blind applications;
  • Established four staff networks with growing memberships – BAME, Disability, LGBT and Women ; and
  • Transformed how we record data about our service users, so we can better measure impact and improve outcomes.

Our Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Action Plan is overseen by a corporate EDI Board, which I personally chair.

Across the sector there has been a gradual recognition of the importance of representation amongst volunteers and the potential in fundraising from communities who aren’t normally representative of their supporters. In a highly competitive market, this has become essential to sustainability and growth.

But the charity sector as a whole is lagging behind. It seems that ‘Inclusion’ is something entirely separate from some corporate strategies: a bolt-on, an obligation, or something to be addressed when the finances are stable.

Just 6.6% of charity trustees are from an ethnic minority background – compared with 8.2% on FTSE 100 boards. 62% of the UK’s largest charities have all-white boards. And women account for just 34% of trustees at the top 500 charities.

This may come as a surprise. You might assume that becoming more inclusive is easy for charities. But it’s not that simple. Even those of us who know we’re on the side of the ‘angels’, have work left to do. We may have our eyes wide open to disadvantage, but inclusivity is still too often a blind spot.

At Barnardo’s we are unequivocal. Inclusion is not a ‘nice to have’ or a tick-in-the-box - it is fundamental to our purpose and mission. Without inclusion we simply won’t be able to reach the most vulnerable children and families, or to deliver support in the way they need it.

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