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IRC UK's commitments to Diversity and Inclusion

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The Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted that there is still a long way to go to tackle racism, xenophobia and discrimination, including in our workplace and the humanitarian and international development wider sector. The movement has highlighted the systematic and structural racism that exists here in the UK and galvanised important discussions about diversity and inclusion within IRC.

We have been listening carefully to IRC’s UK-based staff, including those in our BAME and Pride networks, our trade union and our disability experts. We have also assessed ourselves against best practice from other UK employers. While our commitment to diversity and inclusion isn’t new, we have not historically expressed our commitment to anti-racism determinedly enough or matched this commitment with wide-ranging action that dismantles privilege. In October 2020, this led us to launch our UK action plan for this current year. In it, we make a series of commitments. These are primarily focused on race and ethnic diversity but cover all the protected characteristics in the Equality Act and also those with refugee or asylum status in the UK.

In line with this plan, in March 2021, our Board of Trustees committed to its own Diversity and Inclusion Plan, which made significant commitments to help drive forward progress on Diversity and Inclusion. The plan covers three areas: 1) Board leadership; 2) Commitment to learning and unlearning; and 3) Board diversity.

Since their launch, we have made good progress on both of these plans. For example, every staff member and Trustee has taken part in unconscious bias training, or - for new recruits - will do so in the near future. We have updated and improved our recruitment practices. We ran a seminar and discussion on decolonising development, focusing on actions IRC could take to advance D&I in the UK and within the global organization, which was attended by colleagues in the UK and internationally. And we have allocated budget to the IRC UK BAME Network and Pride Network; to assist staff-led activities which help to share, reflect and take action on how IRC can become a more inclusive and equitable organisation.

This work comes alongside all that is underway to improve IRC’s work on Diversity and Inclusion at a global level, and our new global strategy on this. In May 2021, we also submitted written evidence to the House of Commons International Development Committee’s inquiry into ‘The philosophy and culture of aid: racism in the aid sector’.

We are continuing to develop strategies for longer-term, cultural change. We know that change – true, meaningful change - will take time. But we are determined to do everything in our power to achieve change at IRC UK, IRC more widely, and our sector as a whole.

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