Home Truths 2 highlights UK civil society’s ongoing racism problem

Three and a half years after the murder of George Floyd, and despite considerable attention in civil society to racism and anti-racism, too little has changed in day-to-day experience for Black and Minoritised Ethnic people in mainstream civil society.

These are the findings of a new report, ‘Warm Words, Cold Comfort: UK civil society’s ongoing racism problem’ released by ACEVO and Voice4Change England and authored by Dr. Sanjiv Lingayah, co-creator of the Home Truths 2 programme.

This report is informed by a survey of over 130 Black and Minoritised Ethnic people working in mainstream civil society and is the first major output of the Home Truths 2 programme, designed to challenge and support mainstream UK civil society to take serious practical action on anti-racism and race equity. The insights and experiences reflected in this report will guide the programme’s work to build a sector that takes meaningful action on anti-racism and race equity.

The report shows that while there are some signs that organisations are signaling that they are against racism, they are not taking the associated practical steps to change experiences.

Key findings shed light on urgent challenges and hope for progress

The report reveals some alarming realities:

  • 77% of respondents have experienced or witnessed racism within civil society within the last five years;
  • 59% doubt the commitment of civil society leaders to combat racism effectively;
  • 68% of respondents have felt the need to ‘tone down’ their behaviour or to be on their ‘best behaviour’ in order to fit into mainstream civil society.

Amid these negative experiences and perspectives, the report also highlights that there is hope.

  • 46% of contributors feel that anti-racism/race equity is taken seriously in their organisation; and
  • 65% are hopeful that progress will be made on anti-racism/race equity in the organisation in which they work.

Whether this hope is well founded will largely depend on the courage and commitment of mainstream civil society leaders and organisations to undertake the hard emotional and practical labour that of moving towards anti-racism and race equity.

If there is enough willingness, transformation is possible. If not, then mainstream civil society will be deemed to have offered warm words on racism, but these words will offer cold comfort and count for little.

A call for transformative change

The full report offers comprehensive insights and offers a textured account of the realities of working towards race equity and anti-racism in mainstream UK civil society more than three years on from the murder of George Floyd and the publication of the first Home Truths report. Visit https://www.acevo.org.uk/reports/warm-words-cold-comfort to read the report in full.

The report kicks off a programme of wider activities for The Home Truths 2 over the next 18 months . The “Further, Faster” programme designed to support chief executives and senior leaders already active in anti-racism and race equity practice within their organisations to make rapid and meaningful progress, will open for applications in the new year.  For those ready to make anti-racism and race equity core to their organisation’s mission and take action, register your interest to be kept informed and be the first to know when applications are open.

“This report clearly demonstrates that warm words and positive intents have not so far been reflected in consistent tangible action across civil society and by its leaders,” comments Jane Ide, chief executive of ACEVO.

“It’s a clarion call urging us to push boundaries, be brave and dismantle the status quo. Together, we have the power to shape an inclusive, equitable future by driving meaningful change through anti-racism and race equity.  We all have a job of work to do, I am pleased that ACEVO is hosting  the Home Truths 2 programme to support our leaders take practical steps in doing just that.”

Kunle Olulode MBE, director of Voice for Change England, adds, “Home Truths 2 challenges us to seek solutions now and reaffirms our belief that progress is not a distant dream but a real possibility. It is time for mainstream civil society leaders and organisations to not only increase partnership with black and minority ethnic civil society but also value the resource adequately to move beyond  warm words towards  transformative action against racism.”

Dr Sanjiv Lingayah, co-creator of Home Truths 2 and author of Warm Words, Cold Comfort said “The testimonies of survey respondents show the ongoing and harmful problem of racism in mainstream UK civil society. While civil society organisations have positioned themselves against the idea of racism too few take necessary action against it, such as publicly reporting ethnicity pay gap and plans to address these. Words and realities are at odds. “

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