24th Mar 2021

Rob Williamson, CEO of Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

It’s 18 months since we announced our 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 in philanthropy have a responsibility to do more to tackle prejudice and build inclusion so the North East can be a more equitable society. 

Our key message was that we knew we needed to do more, we didn’t have all the answers but we hoped we were asking the right questions. Along with our Vital Signs reports, we’ve had a good look at our own practices. Our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy is the result of the listening we’ve done and consultation with our membership of individuals, voluntary organisations, businesses and public bodies. It sets out how we live our values of embracing diversity and treating everyone fairly, and how we will tackle prejudice, discrimination and unconscious bias at the Foundation and across everything we do.

We’ve also set ourselves some specific objectives for the year ahead. We are going to agree and then publish benchmarks for the diversity of our staff and trustees against which we will measure ourselves. We’re also going to work to engage more diverse donors and supporters. And we’re going to be looking at ways to ensure better support for organisations serving communities experiencing racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination against disabled people in our funding process.

The conversations are not over – but we hope what we are saying and doing shows our commitment to addressing inequalities and injustices in how opportunities and resources are shared in society.

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