Equity, diversity and inclusion in charity retail

How we can make a positive change

In the UK we’ve become much more conscious of the Black Lives Matter movement during lockdown, and many of us are aware of a rise in overt racism in society. At The Charity Retail Academy, we decided that one of our first webinars must focus on how the charity shop sector can understand and challenge racism as it arises.

What’s happening in the sector?

We know there is so much we all need to do. The movement, Charity So White, has challenged us to really examine our own in-built prejudice as individuals and a sector, and is making real progress in bringing the issue to the fore.

The Charity Retail Association created an excellent action plan for change and held a great session on how we can work together to create a more inclusive sector at their recent The new charity retail: virtual conference.

Last month, Barnardo’s came under terrible racist fire online when they released a guide for parents about how to speak to their children about white privilege. The sector stood beside Barnardo’s and ACEVO (Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations) issued an anti-racism statement of support. This has been signed by almost 200 Chief Executives.

Racism happens in charity shops too

We see and hear discriminatory language and behaviour and despite not agreeing with what is being said, many people feel ill-equipped to challenge it. This can be for several reasons, some of which we cover here.

“I don’t want to make a public scene”

Sometimes, when something is said on a shop floor, the public nature of the incident makes people feel they can’t ‘escalate’ it by challenging it there and then. Once the moment has passed, they find it hard to discuss it again with the individual. Or if it was from a customer, they may have left before you have worked out what to say.

“They meant it as a joke”

Racism, sexism, homophobia and other non-inclusive behaviour is sometimes expressed as a ‘joke’.  Challenging it might receive a response such as “Oh for goodness sake, haven’t you got a sense of humour?” or “I don’t really mean it it’s just a bit of fun”.  These responses can make the challenger feel uncomfortable and/or silenced.

“They’re from a different time….”

There can sometimes be a perception that discriminatory behaviour from older people (who make up a large proportion of UK charity shop volunteers) is acceptable because they simply don’t understand how life has moved on and things were different “in their day”.

“I don’t know enough about it to challenge effectively”

If you feel uninformed yourself about the issues around discrimination and inclusion, it can feel scary to challenge. You might be scared you will end up ‘lost’ in the argument somewhere, feeling foolish and not achieving the change you wanted.

How we can help

All of these and more end up being used to allow discriminatory behaviour go unchallenged in our sector.  At The Charity Retail Academy, we know that we all have unconscious bias and we are committed to a fairer, non-discriminatory future.

This is why we are working with Ngozi Lyn Cole to deliver an online session called Equity, diversity and inclusion for charity retailers. We believe this is the first ever course to specifically address these issues in a charity retail context.

This interactive 2.5 hour session will:

  • ensure delegates are more aware of their own and others’ unconscious bias
  • openly discuss the challenges and situations they face in their charity retail work
  • support delegates to develop ways to effectively challenge non-discriminatory behaviour and language.

We understand the conversation may feel uncomfortable at times for some people but our session will be run in a safe environment where people can express themselves without the fear of ‘getting it wrong’.

View more details and sign up for a place on this important live course.

If you prefer, we can deliver the course as a bespoke session for your team – contact us at hello@thecharityretailacademy.co.uk for more details and prices.