Black History Month: What next?
The Centre for Excellence in Community Investment recently convened a roundtable-style event with the Racial Equality Group (previously the Black History Month working group) to explore how to take discussions around racial equality within the housing sector, and community investment, forward.
The working group was initially formed by the Centre with the specific purpose of creating a dedicated group to join-up activity around Black History Month in October.
Following a busy month of activities to mark Black History Month, as well as putting out a joint statement about sharing activity and best practice across the month, the question many in the group began to ask was: “what next?”
Our roundtable event offered a space to think about this. Over 35 colleagues came to the session to consider just how far the national and sector conversations on racial equality have come, and what more we can do.
Below are the key themes that emerged from the session.
Responses to BLM and BHM
Participants were asked to reflect on their organisation’s response to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Black History Month (BHM).
One organisation set up a Race Equality Steering Group sponsored by their CEO, along with an action plan to increase organisational focus on race equality. They’ve now secured funding to employ an Equality and Inclusion Officer to roll out the action plan.
Another organisation put in place a communications plan for Black History Month 2020, using their internal social media page for discussions, launching a ‘‘Let’s Talk About Race Guide’, and securing guest speakers.
Actions other organisations took included: statements on BLM; new equality, diversity and inclusion strategies; internal conversations and forums for staff; internal staff surveys; providing unconscious bias and diversity training; reading groups and film societies.
Conversations highlighted that it has been an emotional time for staff, in their professional and personal lives. For some, seeing their organisation plan activities for Black History Month was a victory. Others expressed disappointment that their organisations did nothing this year.
More to do
When asked to reflect on what more their organisations, and the sector, could do to advance racial equality in housing, participants expressed a desire for more diverse representation at executive and board level.
Many said there was more work to do around providing training for staff, to give them the language with which to have difficult, but important, conversations, both internally as well as within the community.
Other colleagues reflected that the issue of equality and diversity is not just relevant to organisations in big cities with multicultural areas but is important for all organisations and their partners across the UK. The need to build an evidence base and data on racial inequality in housing was seen as important in showing the reality of the situation.
A Code of Conduct for anti-racist community investment service delivery was seen as a good starting point for taking this work forward.
This last session asked participants to consider what more needs to be done, as well as how the Racial Equality Group could take these ideas forward.
A key theme for organisations’ external work was to listen to local community groups and residents. There was a call for more publicly published equality, diversity and inclusion strategies, conduct joint training across organisations and submit good practice examples to the Centre’s project database.
Other key asks for the Centre’s Racial Equality Group included:
- Creating spaces and forums for sharing lived experiences as well as ‘action focused’ groups
- Creating tools to influence senior leaders, as well as tools to interpret data on race and a standard for measuring change and tracking progress
- Give annual awards to celebrate individuals and orgs that are driving forward this agenda
- Join up conversations between different housing forums
- Create a best practice repository
If you would like to get involved with The Racial Equality Group, you can join their next meeting on 13 January 2021, 11am-12pm (please email email@example.com for more info).
You can read more about BAME communities and the Covid-19 pandemic in our briefing.