Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: how we play a part
Central to the Oglesby Charitable Trust’s purpose is tackling injustice and working towards a fairer and more equitable society. This has always underpinned our activity, but arguably the Covid crisis has brought issues of equality and diversity into greater focus, with the well documented, disproportionate effects of the disease and its economic consequences, particularly on communities experiencing racial inequality. The Black Lives Matter movement has also raised public consciousness, and prompted many to reflect upon what kind of society they want to live in. It is within this context that we would like to share some of our most recent thinking relating to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
A society that is more equitable results in better outcomes for everyone, and we believe that we all have a role to play in ensuring that we are doing as much as we can to reflect upon, and address the inequalities that exist. In the same way that sustainability and climate change is relevant across all of our giving areas, so is diversity, equity and inclusion. As a Trust we want to ensure that we recognise this through our processes, our communications, and in our relationships with grant holders.
A key component for the OCT in tackling inequalities is around learning: a theme that runs through our approach to DEI. Every member of the team at the OCT brings with us different experiences and perspectives and we are fortunate to work in an environment in which individual contributions are valued and respected. But we also appreciate that we don’t know, can’t know, everything. As such we have an ongoing commitment to, and enthusiasm for learning and to build our understanding of the issues that affect different parts of our society. We are exploring further opportunities to build on this culture and widen our perspectives, by participating in knowledge sharing opportunities, and drawing on insights from our grant holders. With that in mind, we also welcome feedback from those we support and would like to re-emphasise our desire to have open and honest conversations with them. That works both ways; we hope our grant holders feel confident challenging our processes, behaviours and approaches wherever this raises concerns or queries.
In order to embed DEI across all of our funding areas, we also want to better understand the diversity of leadership within the organisations we fund, and that those we work with hold similar values. And so, in addition to the conversations that we already have with our grant holders, we will now be asking more questions around how they aspire to be more inclusive and diverse as an organisation. We are also building processes to help understand better who benefits from our grants and the work of the charities we fund. We want to understand whether projects are targeting any specific groups or sections of society, and how beneficiaries are included in developing or designing projects. If we understand better who is benefiting from our grants this can help inform our own approaches and future grant giving.
In summary, we will:
- Continue to embed opportunities for learning about the causes and consequences of inequality, for the whole team at the OCT;
- Ask grant holders to tell us more about their organisations’ approaches to DEI;
- Seek to understand more about which communities our grants are reaching – and where there might be gaps;
- Provide more opportunities and emphasise our desire to receive feedback from our grant holders about our approaches, behaviour and processes;
- Commit to regularly reflecting upon our own role as a funder, reviewing where we need to make changes and communicating openly about this.
We know that we can only hope to be successful in tackling some of the inequalities that exist in society in partnership with our grant holders, and we hope that some of the changes to our processes outlined here help us to do so. We know from our own experience as a Trust that inequalities are complex, often deeply entrenched and tackling them takes time, but we remain committed to doing so and to continuing to examine and evolve the part we play.
Emily Mathew, Relationship Manager