Our approach to equity, diversity and inclusion
2020 has been a year we will all remember as one of upheaval and challenge. We have seen people come together to cope with the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 as it has changed the way we live and kept us from those we love. But this has also been a time that has seen people unite to address a more ingrained injustice: the racism and inequality that is still faced by so many across the world.
The Black Lives Matter movement has made me, like many of us, take a hard look at the issue of racism here in the UK and the inequalities that persist. It has made me reflect on the things that all of us as individuals, and that we as an organisation, could have done differently and still must do if we want to be part of the solutions needed to create a more equitable world.
At the National Lottery Community Fund, our first principle is: for everyone. As the largest funder of community activity, it has been disappointing to hear that some BAME-led organisations do not feel that the Fund is ‘for them’ and that our funding is not reaching everyone that it should. We have begun work to address this, both as a grant-maker and as an employer. Inequity of all forms can often remain unchallenged, difficult to root out and address; it harms people and society at large. We want equity, diversity and inclusion to be front and centre in all our decisions at the National Lottery Community Fund.
To achieve meaningful change we must continue to invest in a sustained long term way – not only through our funding, but also in resources and people, including, for example, our networks for BAME, disabled, and LGBTQ+ colleagues so that we listen and learn from their knowledge and experiences. As a funder, one of our strengths is in acting as a catalyst, using our funding and learning to help others do the same, but also learning from the great practice that we see elsewhere and listening to the many diverse voices in communities across the UK. I am proud of the work the Fund does on a daily basis, but we, like many, need to ask continuously “what more we can do?” We will make mistakes on this journey, but we can be bold and ambitious and take meaningful action to create the change we want to see.
Below, we set out the steps we have taken and are taking to be a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive funder and organisation. There is much for us to be proud of, and much for us to work on ourselves and with others for greater collective impact. We look forward to hearing and seeing how we are doing, as well as to sharing publicly our progress.
National Lottery Community Fund Statement: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion – Next Steps
As the largest funder of communities across the country, the National Lottery Community Fund will always be for everyone. We recognise, however, that not everyone has the same starting point. We are building on existing work to dismantle barriers, but we must take bigger steps to tackle inequalities by listening, learning, and working with others. Longer term, our vision is one of an equitable and fairer future for all.
Communities are diverse – too diverse to be reduced to acronyms. We use commonly recognised language in this statement to communicate our work with an array of people and communities but we acknowledge that terms such as ‘BAME’ or ‘LGBTQ+’ are imperfect.
There are four areas in which we will focus our continued efforts:
- Listening and external engagement
We have been holding in-depth discussions with national and regional organisations led by individuals from those communities experiencing disproportionate challenge and hardship as a result of COVID-19 - and particularly with BAME communities. These targeted conversations and meetings are ongoing at a national level, but also at regional and local levels through our extensive network of locally-based funding teams across the UK.
Our CEO has chaired round-table discussions with BAME and D/deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations (DDPOs) to better understand their funding needs in response to COVID-19. We followed this up with more than 60 individual sector conversations conducted across the UK - including with BAME-, LGBTQ+-, and Disabled People-led organisations - many of which have led to funding opportunities. We have actively engaged with representatives from those supporting and led by the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and we have commissioned work to improve our understanding of, and reach into, organisations led by LGBTQ+ and Disabled People.
These conversations are the first step in a process that will be expanded and ingrained into our approach as a funding organisation. In each of our funding portfolios (UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) we are creating a targeted approach to increasing our engagement and understanding local needs.
- Our funding priorities and processes
In response to COVID-19, we honoured our commitments to existing grantholders, while identifying where we could go further to alleviate the impact on the hardest hit communities. We recognise the importance of working with trusted networks to make the most difference, most quickly, to those communities. We are actively exploring partnerships like the recently announced Phoenix Fund. Thanks to National Lottery Players, we have committed £1.4m to a partnership with the Global Fund for Children to support the co-creation and delivery of the Phoenix Fund, a new black and ethnic minority-led fund that will support BAME communities and leadership in England.
Beyond specific partnerships, we want to ensure that the core of our funding reaches more communities who have been and will be disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. We have incorporated much of the guidance from the human rights charity ‘Equally Ours’ into our funding offer. We are looking at how those communities who already face disadvantage are being treated in our application, verification, and early decision processes.
When developing our emergency funding we worked with our staff networks and external stakeholders to make sure our processes and materials were as accessible as possible. We proactively reached out via a range of networks to invite applications from those communities hardest hit. And we issued revised guidance to our funding staff to ensure an increased focus on those applications targeting relevant communities and led by people from those communities. There is much more to do, especially as we move beyond the emergency. But we have been encouraged to see the number of applications targeting BAME communities increase as well as the proportion of our emergency funding going to those communities. Once the funding is fully allocated, we will publish the profile of the grants we have made and applications received during this emergency period.
We will improve our data and conduct an external audit of our progress on the ambition to get more funding out to those communities we have not been reaching. This will enable us to better assess how much of our funding is going to, for example, DDPOs, BAME-or LGBTQ+-led organisations. Importantly, it will also help us to examine why it is harder for some communities to access our funding than others. This way we can better understand the barriers that persist and dismantle them to create lasting change. The results of this work will be published in our annual report – a commitment to transparency that will be maintained.
We are also now recruiting for a Head of Funding Equity & Inclusion who will work closely with directors to ensure our funding is inclusive and equitable. This will be a crucial Fund-wide role ensuring that equity is everybody’s business and providing a support and challenge function to improve our policy and practice in future.
- Creating a more inclusive workplace
Creating an even more inclusive workplace culture is an ongoing priority. We have invested in our HR team, which now reflects the rich diversity of the Fund’s staff. We give staff regular opportunities to share concerns and ideas through our internal engagement surveys and we are listening to and working closely with our colleague-led networks.
We have recently appointed a Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing Manager to develop our approach to EDI internally and maintain our focus on mental health and wellbeing.
Developing our training offer is an essential element of our EDI commitments in the coming year. This will cover three key areas:
- Enhanced mandatory training, including modules on unconscious bias, inclusive language, and cultural awareness;
- EDI training integrated into our grant-making skills programme; and
- An accredited interviewer model to ensure that all involved in recruitment are skilled in best practice interviewing.
We have published our ethnicity pay gap for the second year, which has again demonstrated a year-on-year improvement and positive position on pay equity. We have also seen an increase in the percentage of BAME colleagues in the highest pay quartile compared to 2019. Our gender pay gap continues to compare well to other public and private sector organisations, including increased representation of women in our leadership roles.
It is important that everyone has a chance to share their views and experiences, so we launched an employee survey specifically focused on inclusion in August. This will highlight specific issues and inform our action plans.
- Working collaboratively with other funders
We will make sure that we do not work in isolation. We will actively support and engage in networks which bring funders together to collaborate, develop common frameworks and learn from others who have made good progress in this area.
We are one of 13 charitable funders in the DEI Coalition, working together to set new standards for EDI in the foundation sector. We are an active member of the Funders for Race Equality Alliance, providing funding for the secretariat and for the Coalition of Race Equality Organisations. We have also been part of a working group to improve co-ordination between DCMS and non-government bodies and funders on EDI, which has developed and published an agreed set of good practice guidelines. We want to build on this momentum and continue to seek new opportunities to collaborate with others who want to create a more equitable funding environment right across the UK.
The inequalities and barriers which exist can only be reduced and removed with real action – and at a number of levels. This requires a contribution from all of us, for all of us. As the largest funder of communities across the country, the National Lottery Community Fund will always be for everyone, and we have a duty to make sure that is the case in every community we support up and down the country. But we are one part of a much bigger picture, and so we recognise the importance of sharing what we are doing alongside others so that, collectively, we can listen and learn together and shift and change outcomes in the future by joining our intelligence, resources, and support in pursuit of a common goal.
- Date published