Local charity support network Oxfordshire All (OAI) In has consulted widely on the new Equality Framework, which aims to help the sector to make progress in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) faster by sharing ideas and knowledge. CEOs from across the county’s charities, including OCF, have made personal pledges to increase diversity and representation in their organisations.
The Equality Framework was launched by Sara Fernandez, CEO at Oxford Hub, at OCF’s webinar on reaching under-represented communities. She said: “Often when we work in equity, diversity and inclusion it can be quite challenging; we’re unsure, we need to spend money on consultants, find new ways to do things. Sometimes, particularly for small community groups, those resources aren’t in place. Bigger charities do have the resources but they end up doing things which are very internally facing. This framework is the opportunity to have something that is for the sector as a whole, that has been co-created – and the big objective is for us to make more progress in equality, and to do that faster.”
The Oxfordshire Equality Framework was brought together by Aseia Rafique and Vanisha Parmar, EDI specialists, who managed a collaborative process, working with volunteers, staff and trustees from over 40 different charities across Oxfordshire. It aims to support organisations in Oxfordshire, large or small, by looking at how EDI can be mainstreamed into the work we do. It is a living document setting out good practice on EDI which organisations can dip in and out of. Most importantly, the information is to help make sure the work we do is fair and free from bias, and the people we interact and engage with have access to the support and services we provide, including those from vulnerable and traditionally marginalised and under-represented groups.
The framework shares practical advice on leadership; supporting diverse people and communities; evidence, knowledge and data; accessible communication; recruitment; and learning and development.
Some of the key infrastructure organisations in the county published their own EDI statements of intent to coincide with the publication of the framework. OCF’s statement reads:
“EDI is important to Oxfordshire Community Foundation because we strive to represent all the communities of Oxfordshire. While we can never do that perfectly, through our board, staff, grants panel members and other volunteers we can work to increase the diversity of the people who work for us, while ensuring we still have the skills, networks and experience to do the work we need to do. Ethnic diversity is a very visible way that we are not yet as representative as we would like to be.”
OCF’s CEO Adrian Sell has published a blog post setting out his personal commitment to ensuring diverse voices are heard in the local charity sector. He says: “Allyship is about using our personal and positional privilege to amplify others’ voices. It is about asking who is sat at the table, who isn’t, why not and how we get them there. We want to make sure the voices of people with a wide range of lived experiences are heard. We already do this to some degree – e.g. through our support of the Lived Experience Advisory Forum as part of Oxfordshire Homeless Movement – but we want OCF, and our partners, to do this more systematically and effectively.”