Focus on leadership

We are focussing on leadership and its vital role in creating diverse and inclusive organisations.

We will examine how societal and structural racism continues to impact on BAME employee progression. We will also focus on the business case for inclusion and focus on the role of leadership in breaking down the barriers that currently exist.

The resources are designed to provide an insight into the issues that BAME employees face but will also provide some tangible solutions that can be readily employed to overcome them.

Leadership in the voluntary and charity sector

Fewer than 1 in 10 employees in the voluntary sector are from a BAME background 10% and are therefore not representative of the communities that rely on these organisations for support.  A third of the largest charities have all-white senior leadership teams and boards. In order to promote better outcomes for communities this level of underrepresentation will need to shift.

The #charitysowhite movement, has given a voice to BAME people working in the charity sector and empowered them to highlight their experiences of discrimination.

Partnership projects between ACEVO and Voice4Change England have developed greater communication on inclusivity, with greater training provisions and workshops created to remove  unconscious bias from the sector and some charitable funders are now asking charities to include details of diversity on their boards as part of funding applications which is encouraging but needs to occur more consistently.

In its recent report 'Home Truths: undoing racism and delivering diversity in the charity sector' by ACEVO the online survey of BAME people showed that racism was a significant feature of their charity life:

  • 68% of respondents (335 out of 489 people) said that they had experienced, witnessed or heard stories about racism in their time in the charity sector.
  • 50% of respondents (246 people out of 490) felt that they needed to ‘tone down’ behaviour or to be on their ‘best behaviour’ in order to fit in in the charity sector

In terms of direct experiences of racism:

  • 222 people had been subject to ignorant or insensitive questioning about their culture or religion.
  • 147 people had been treated as an intellectual inferior.
  • 114 respondents had been subject to excessive surveillance and scrutiny by colleagues, managers or supervisors.

These experiences cause harm.

  • 116 people stated that direct experiences of racism had had a negative or very negative impact on their health and emotional wellbeing.
  • A further 94 respondents who had experienced racism said that it had had a negative or very negative impact on their ‘desired career path’.


The subject of race can be very touchy. As finance executive Mellody Hobson says, it's a "conversational third rail." But, she says, that's exactly why we need to start talking about it. In this engaging, persuasive talk, Hobson makes the case that speaking openly about race — and particularly about diversity in hiring -- makes for better businesses and a better society.

Organisations will need to evaluate where their organisation is now in order to understand where it needs to go next, for example, do you have a diverse leadership and senior management team?

Page updated: 24/09/2021 Page updated by: Gloucestershire County Council

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