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Diversity, equity and inclusion

At the Community Foundation we believe that if we address barriers and include people with a diverse range of lived and learned experiences, our work will be richer and make more of a difference.

Our approach

Being held back because of who you are or where you’re from is not acceptable. But some groups and communities face inequalities and injustices in the way opportunities and resources are shared in society. At the Community Foundation, we value diversity and treating everyone fairly. We comply with equality and anti-discrimination laws and regulation. But we also seek to go beyond legal requirements to understand, implement and promote greater diversity, equity and inclusion. We also want to tackle prejudice, discrimination and unconscious bias at the Foundation and across everything we do.

What these words mean to us.

  • Diversity: means people’s different experiences, identities and points of view. Our focus is the diverse characteristics and backgrounds of our area’s population. That includes legally protected characteristics and other things which can affect people’s life chances, like appearance, gender identity, caring responsibilities, being from a working-class background, or being a migrant, refugee or asylum seeker.
  • Equity: means everyone, no matter their background or characteristics, getting fair treatment and access to opportunities. This means recognising that some people experience inequality and injustice. So, for us, treating everyone the same (‘equality’) is not enough – we must strive to remove barriers.
  • Inclusion: means everyone feeling they belong, being safe and respected, able take part and realise their potential. For us, this involves striving to reach, listen to and involve people in our work who tend to be under-represented or whose voices tend not to be heard.
  • Prejudice means an unjustified, usually negative, attitude towards a person or a group of people based on their different characteristics or background.
  • Discrimination means treating a person or a group of people unfairly because of their differences.
  • Unconscious bias is where, without actively intending to, people favour others who are most like them.

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy sets out in more detail how we approach our responsibilities. It includes information on how we address these areas when we recruit trustees and staff.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy

What have we been doing?

In October 2019, we announced a focus on philanthropy’s role in addressing equity and inclusion. We set out to celebrate our region’s diversity while shining a light on the work of organisations who help communities with lived experience of racism, homophobia and other types of discrimination. We wanted to widen the lens of whose giving gets to be in the philanthropy picture. And we wanted to address some uncomfortable truths, because we and others have a responsibility to do more to tackle prejudice and build inclusion so the North East can be a more equitable society. Our key messages were that we knew we needed to do more, we didn’t have all the answers but we hoped we were asking the right questions.


In March 2021, we published our Vital Signs reports on diversity, equity and inclusion. They examine the experience of five groups whose contribution to the vibrancy of our region is often inhibited by deep-seated inequalities: women; people with learning disabilities; Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities; disabled people and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.


We’ve also taken time to look at our own practices. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Policy came as a result of listening to our membership of individuals, voluntary organisations, businesses and public bodies. Our strategy to 2025 commits us to address diversity across our goals. At the end of 2021, we agreed and published benchmarks for the diversity of our staff and trustees against which we now measure ourselves.

What's next?

We will update our benchmarking data every year based on anonymous surveys of our staff and trustees. We will also update the benchmarks as demographic data changes e.g. through Census results.


Our aim is to move towards having a staff and trustee body that reflects the benchmarks identified. The current priority is to encourage more disabled people, younger people and people from Black, Asian and other non-White ethnic backgrounds to apply for Board and staff vacancies when they arise.


We are also working on diversity, equity and inclusion in our grant-making. Using data from our new grants system, we plan to analyse and publish further information about our reach to diverse communities and how well that reflects where we think we should be.


As ever, none of this means our conversations are over – but we hope what we are saying and doing shows our commitment to addressing inequalities and injustices.