Events relating to the Black Lives Matter movement have prompted MAG, like many other organisations all over the world, to embark on a period of self-reflection.
They are a reminder of our need to be both self-critical and transparent about our own record on all aspects of diversity and equality, including racism.
The starting point for our self-reflection is to acknowledge that change needs to start within because racism is institutionally embedded in society and MAG, therefore, is not immune.
MAG is an international organisation made up of myriad people of different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities working in a complex and often challenging operating environment.
Earlier this year we appointed a specialist Gender and Inclusion Adviser to lead on work to address structural inequalities. But the Black Lives Matters campaign has achieved what every good campaign should achieve: it has forced us to reconsider the course we were taking and to ask ourselves whether that course was the right one.
To acknowledge is one thing but to respond and to then act for change is another.
So we are now reshaping our plans and developing new ones to conduct a robust and evidence-based review into our record on diversity and to listen to staff with the aim of improving our organisation in this regard. We will embark on this process with humility, with transparency and with a self-critical eye.
As an early step, we are establishing constructive and reflective conversation channels about how we can enhance diversity and inclusion. These channels will create the space for teams to speak and share their perspectives and experiences.
New working groups are being established, with leadership from myself, the CEO, to shape a new, long-term, sustainable and effective strategy on equality.
We recognise that to effect real and lasting change, this process needs to be thorough and wide-ranging and will need careful prioritisation so that we are taking practical actions that take into account the contexts of our operations.
As a statement of MAG’s commitment to reflection and action, we have also signed up to a diversity charter established by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, signalling our intention to do what we can to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership. You can find out more here.
We do not expect to ‘fix’ a problem which has arisen out of centuries of history. But we do expect the highest standards of ourselves as we embark on what we know might be a difficult journey.
MAG is an organisation that does not habitually speak publically on issues beyond its core humanitarian mission.
But we are publishing this piece on our website now because we believe it is important to share with all of our stakeholders, including our donors and our many public supporters, these first and important steps as we embark on this journey.