We condemn the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis – it is a scandal and justice must prevail. George Floyd’s death follows similar atrocities that have happened across America. We're united with colleagues working in the HIV response in America, the UK and globally to say enough is enough.
While we might reflect that what happens in America has little bearing on us as a country or as an organisation I am asking everyone at Terrence Higgins Trust to think differently. We have had similar deaths of black people while in police detention in the not too distant past and racism raises its ugly head far too often here in the UK, both overtly and covertly.
As a leading sexual health and HIV charity, we are committed to doing more to address the sexual health inequalities faced by black people and remove barriers to black communities engaging with our work.
Black and minority ethnic people continue to suffer from unacceptable health inequalities, as outlined in this week’s report from Public Health England that strongly shows that BAME people are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. There may be a number of different reasons why this is the case, but it’s most certainly a result of systemic inequalities and racism.
Black people are also disproportionately affected by HIV and have poorer sexual health generally and are already a key focus of our work. We’re committed to playing our part in addressing inequalities and properly meeting the needs of black people – but we must do more and do better.
This is our line in the sand. We're establishing short, medium and long-term objectives for what we can do to do better. We'll work with staff and service users from BAME communities to co-produce meaningful change.
Today I have endorsed the Association of Chief Executive Officers of Voluntary Organisations' eight principles to address the diversity deficit in charity leadership. These principles are:
- Acknowledging that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.
- Recognising the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
- Learning about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.
- Committing to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that the charity operates in.
- Committing to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in the charity.
- Viewing staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.
- Recruiting for potential, not perfection.
- Valuing lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.
These principles will be embedded into my work and the charity’s work going forward. To ensure we’re able to do what we need to do for those we’re here to serve, we need to identify and confront behaviours that lead to inequalities so we can make sure that Black Lives Matter.
If you have any comments please do not hesitate in getting touch with me via [email protected].