SCVO has long strived to do its best to reflect the diversity of Scottish society and worked hard to be an inclusive organisation that colleagues, members, and the voluntary sector can contribute to, without barriers. However, the events of the summer of 2020 made us stop and challenge our thinking and approach to equality, diversity and inclusion and review our approach to racism and discrimination. Viewing the organisation through an anti-racist lens has given SCVO the opportunity to strengthen its stance on the unacceptability of racism internally and to start thinking how we engage on this with the wider sector. Racism is structural, institutional, and endemic in our society and we are working to ensure that SCVO is doing all it can to authentically approach this with humility and openness. As a board and a leadership team, we acknowledge that we are on a journey and would like to share with you what we have done so far, what we intend to do and some of our learning to date.

Involving colleagues

Our journey started last year when an Anti-Racism internal working group was formed. Led by Manish Joshi, SCVO Trustee, and with staff from across the organisation, the group invited all staff to a conversation on being an anti-racist organisation. Culminating in an organisation-wide virtual event, it was clear that there is a genuine desire and enthusiasm for us to learn, share and develop our awareness and understanding of issues relating to race. The working group produced a report with recommendations, both internal and external for implementation. Their work continues our journey to combat racial inequality and work towards becoming an anti-racist organisation.

Leading from the top

At its June meeting, SCVO’s board of trustees discussed the anti-racism report and SCVO’s role. The session was facilitated by Viana Maya, founder of pRespect, who challenged our thinking and actions. Tackling race inequality needs to be about action and not just words, and can mean different things to different people, given ingrained prejudice and inequality. SCVO’s trustees have tasked the Senior Leadership Team to involve the whole organisation to take the working group’s report forward. We will work at a pace that enables us to learn, reflect and change our approach as we go. Our desire is to engage with members who are active on this issue, and we will be reaching out to you in the coming weeks. Likewise, if members are also on this journey we would be delighted to hear from you and share our collective learning and resources.

Next steps - learning our way towards change

The first thing we want to do is enable our staff to be comfortable about being uncomfortable. We will create safe places for staff to voice their views openly and honestly, surface fears, share ideas and experience. We want to enter a period of listening and learning so that changes are meaningful and sustained. Leading from this we will start to develop aims and how to articulate a stance more fully for SCVO on anti-racism.  We will share our journey and by doing so hope to encourage everyone to call out inequality and discrimination when they see it.

SCVO’s commitment

SCVO is committed to tackling prejudice and inequality. With race inequality, it has taken us some time to get to this point but taking time to have real conversations with staff has we think paid off - the working group has enthused colleagues with a call to action. We are not going to rush the next steps, we want to get it right, whilst accepting sometimes we will not. We will use external help to guide us, and we will do our best to amplify others’ voices as we get there.

SCVO Board of Trustees and Senior Leadership Team