Dismantling racism in charity retail: A statement of commitment

“The Charity Retail Association (CRA) is the lead body in the charity retail sector, with some 80% of the UK’s charity shops in membership. As such, we believe we have a moral duty to tackle racism in all its forms within the sector, and to give our members appropriate guidance, training and encouragement to excise racism from their activities.

We recognise that there is a problem of race inequality in society and our sector, and this impacts on our staff, our volunteers and the communities we are here to serve.

Far too many of the senior roles within our sector are held by white people, and there has been a real lack of opportunity for individuals from an ethnic minority background to begin, develop and succeed in their careers in the voluntary sector whether as paid staff or volunteers

Systemic racism and discrimination in the UK directly and indirectly leads to poorer life chances, deeper health inequalities and greater risks being carried within the ethnic minority communities, and those challenges are exacerbated when our sector fails to address its own problems of race inequality.

While many of our members have campaigned and fought for race equality and social justice over many years, collectively we have not done enough to create the real changes that are needed to achieve true racial equality in our work.

We know that words alone are nowhere near enough. But we also know that silence amongst leaders, especially white leaders, in our sector causes pain for our colleagues and our communities. We know that people from ethnic minority communities are tired of hearing worthy words and seeing no action, and that fundamental change is required before progress can be made – “tinkering around the edges” is not going to be effective.

We are therefore today publishing our first action plan which we hope will go some way towards redressing the inequalities and lack of opportunities for people from an ethnic minority background which exist within charity retail. We recognise that fulfilling this plan will take determination, planning, energy and resource. It is not the role of a single organisation of course, and we will need to work closely with our members to achieve the desired results, but we are committed to working as quickly and effectively as possible to achieve measurable change.

We commit to being open and accountable as we progress this work. We will report publicly on progress against our plan – with honesty about the things that don’t happen as well as those that do.

As a board and as a staff team we commit ourselves to move forward together, to listen and to learn, to take action jointly and individually, to effect change and to be held accountable for delivering change.

We know we have much more to do. For the sake of our sector and our communities, charities and social change organisations are #NeverMoreNeeded, and we need to get this right.”

Action Plan

Actions facing internally to CRA

Action itemStatus/timescale
1. We will publish a statement on our attitude to racismComplete
2. We will publish an action plan to guide our activities and review every quarterComplete, but subject to review
3. All of our staff will receive formal and paid for equalities trainingBy end of September 2020
4. Directors will receive similar training if they have not already been trained by their own organisationsBy end 2020 for existing Directors, within three months of joining the board for new Directors
5. We will ensure that those that we contract with are also committed to an EDI process that acknowledges the need to tackle racismEnd 2020
6. CEO and chair to receive some more specific training on leadership in this context, and if possible to find a mentorBy end of September for CEO, end 2020 for chair
7. We will obtain paid for consultancy support to further our objectives and make sure we remain aware of current BAME issuesBy end of 2020
8. We will ensure that at least two members of the CRA board (currently 14 people) will be from a BAME backgroundBy next financial year, ie 31/3/21
9. We will review our board procedures to ensure that BAME board members are able to have their voices heard and make an equal contribution. We will clearly minute contributions by all participants at the Board to ensure that there is recognition of all contributions.During and after the recruitment process    
10. We will examine our recruitment practices and identify how a more values and behaviours-based recruitment can be undertaken, rather than relying on existing skills and experience onlyBy end August 2020
11. We will ensure that all recruitment is “blind” ie names, pictures and any references to ethnic status are redacted from applications until interview stageOur last two recruitment activities have already adopted this practice. By end August 2020
12. We will review where to advertise new job positionsBy end of August 2020
13. We will review our staff handbook, including complaints handling and personnel policies to ensure no bias is presentBy end of 2020
14. We will measure and monitor the ethnic pay gap within CRA and publish itBy end of 2020
15. We will write and publish an equality and diversity HR policyBy end of 2020
16. We will review all of our existing imagery and marketing material to ensure a lack of bias and encourage positive representationsReview to take place by end of August with action plan arising therefrom with separate timings
17. We will run a focus group with members to ask them for their views on what further steps we should take (ensuring an equal representation of BAME and non BAME views)By end September
18. We will ensure that the regular soundings we take from members include more BAME voicesOngoing, but need an initial improvement by end 2020
19. We will review the action plan at each board meeting, and within the staff team every two monthsOngoing
20. We will ensure that our working environment is comfortable for people from different racesImmediately
21. We will adopt a zero tolerance policy to racist comments and any form of harassment, mockery and derogatory behaviourImmediately

Actions facing the membership and the charity retail sector

Action itemStatus/timescale
22. We will specifically ask our members to send more BAME attendees to meetings and  ensure that we proactively encourage and welcome BAME attendees and address any barriers to their attendanceStarting with our autumn meetings then ongoing
23. We will circulate this plan and our regular reports on it to our entire membershipComplete
24. We will issue a media statement with this plan in itEnd of w/c 20/7
25. We will research and report on the ethnic makeup of the sector staff and volunteersMay 2021
26. We will regularly update this research to monitor progressEvery year as a minimum
27. We will issue guidance on dealing with racist incidents in shops and help members report hate incidencesBy end 2020
28. We will issue public-facing communications that support a zero tolerance approach to racism in shopsAround the publication of the guidance
29. We will run a member event specifically recruitment, retention and progression of BAME people in member charitiesBy spring 2021
30. We will seek input from any of our members who are directly involved in racism awareness and reductionBy end September 2020
31. We will run sessions at conference on recruitment, retention and progression of BAME people in member charitiesJune 2021