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Statement

Update from our UK Director on the actions we’ve been taking to advance diversity, equality and inclusion at IRC UK

Statement from Laura Kyrke-Smith, IRC UK Executive Director

This week marks the second annual Race Equality Week, a week when organisations across the country unite in action around race equity in the workplace. Since this year’s theme is #ActionNotJustWords, we want to share an update on the actions we’ve been taking to advance diversity, equality and inclusion in our own workplace.

In 2020, IRC UK launched a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion action plan. This plan followed from the recognition that we hadn’t expressed our commitment to anti-racism determinedly enough and we hadn’t matched this commitment with wide-ranging action that dismantled privilege.

What did we do?

We listened carefully to IRC’s UK-based staff, including those in our BAME and Pride networks, our Union and our disability experts. We also assessed ourselves against best practices from other UK employers. We then made a series of commitments to build the diversity and inclusivity of our organisation.

In total, we had 79 specific commitments across areas like improving the diversity of our Board and management team; supporting staff development, progression and retention from under-represented groups; and addressing unconscious bias.

We set ourselves a deadline to achieve these by the end of 2021.

So how did we do?

Of our 79 individual commitments, 55 either happened or are now continually embedded in the way we work. These are things like:

  • Having a Board of Trustees’ diversity and inclusion plan in place and being actioned
  • Name blinding on job applications
  • All UK staff participating in unconscious bias training
  • Holding a decolonising development webinar
  • Allocating budget to our BAME and PRIDE Network
  • Creating a new apprentice position
  • Paying our clients for participation in donor events

I am particularly pleased that we now have 43% of the UK management team identify as BAME, and 86% as women. Within our Board of Trustees, 38% identify as BAME and 46% as women, including three Trustees with lived experience of conflict and displacement

Of course, 55 out of 79 commitments achieved means 24 that haven’t been achieved. 21 are still on track but taking longer than initially planned. Three have not been actionable and are now being reviewed.

What’s next?

We know that true, meaningful change will take time, but we are determined to achieve it at IRC UK – and to keep making progress now. So we’ll continue taking forward the actions we haven’t finished while we work at the same time to develop a longer-term strategy for change.

We’ve committed to having this longer-term strategy in place in 2022, and it will be guided by our global IRC Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy, which was launched last year. We look forward to sharing more about our longer-term strategy when it is ready.

We’ve also made a donation from IRC UK to support to Race Equality Week’s important mission, which you can learn more about here: https://www.raceequalitymatters.com/race-equality-week/

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.