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Five tips on how to build an inclusive charity culture

This year we held our first Buckinghamshire International Women’s Day event, Charities, Women and Leadership in Buckinghamshire, which explored the role and experiences of women in the voluntary sector in the county both now and in the future (8th March 2021).

Building an inclusive charity culture is key to the future of our voluntary sector and was the focus of the panel discussion led by Mimi Harker OBE, Chair of Community Impact Bucks who has been a local councillor for 22 years, and Ranjula Takorda MBE, Founding Director of Inspire All CIC with a wealth of experience working with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the county.

Both members of Bucks BAME Network, they shared their experiences and insights on how we can be better, and do more to address inequalities that exist within the county. You can listen to their discussion by watching the seminar recording (view from 39:45).

Ahead of the seminar, Nicola Hannam, a consultant who provides diversity, inclusion and governance support to charities, shared her top five tips on how to build an inclusive charity culture:

  1. Listen – Understand your current culture and what the barriers are, and find out to what extent people feel they belong within your charity or voluntary organisation, as well as to what extent they can be themselves. Don’t just ask those already involved – it is really important to also reach out to those you want to include. If that’s not possible, look for research to give you an insight.
  2. Talk – Talk about what inclusive behaviour looks like in practice and how you would constructively challenge behaviour that doesn’t support inclusion.
  3. Understand why it matters – Be clear about why inclusion is important, not just because it is the ‘right thing to do’. Inclusion is what unlocks the value to be gained from diversity – it might mean you reach more people in need; improve your services and make them accessible; and/or you attract the most talented people.
  4. Training – Training managers and leaders is particularly important because they need to ‘walk the talk’. Those who hire, or are first point of contact for beneficiaries, also need training as they are your gatekeepers.
  5. Get serious – When you understand where you are and where you want to get to, build diversity and inclusion into your objectives so that it isn’t an add on. If you have worked out why it matters then you’ll know how it will help you achieve your wider aims so get serious and make it part of your planning

Further information:

  • For tips and help on achieving a diverse charity board or management committee, visit our Board Diversity.
  • If you would like one-to-one advice on this or on running your voluntary organisation, book a 1:2:1 advice session.
  • Nicola Hannam is a consultant providing diversity, inclusion and governance support to charities. She has 20 years’ experience of the charitable sector, an MSc in voluntary sector management and is an Associate Consultant for NCVO’s governance team. She is also Chair for nurtureuk, a charity dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people and removing barriers to learning. Nicola is also an Associate of Community Impact Bucks.
  • Mimi Harker, OBE, Chair of Community Impact Bucks, has been a local councillor for 22 years and is the former Mayor of Amersham, former Chairman of Chiltern District Council, and Cabinet Member for Communities, Young People, Sport and Leisure. In 2012 Mimi was awarded an OBE for her work for women and her local community.
  • Ranjula Takodra, MBE, has a wealth of experience working with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in the county and was awarded the MBE in 2010 for services to the communities in Aylesbury. She is a Town Councillor and has twice been Mayor of Aylesbury, as well as dedicating 30 years to supporting communities including with the Equality & Human Rights Council, as a liaison worker for a local NHS surgery supporting minority ethnic communities, as a Hate Crime Champion and a Domestic Abuse Champion.
  • In the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests in 2020, Bucks BAME Network was formed with the aim to bring together the representatives of the different BAME organisations within Buckinghamshire to network, collaborate and develop projects that will help build understanding of cultural differences, raise awareness of the rich cultural heritage, highlight inequalities and address issues affecting the BAME communities in Bucks.