Summer 2020 saw an overdue and renewed focus on racial equality in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the US, and subsequent global protests against systemic racism through the Black Lives Matter movement.
As an organisation that exists to address inequality in the arts and cultural sectors, these global events resonated strongly, and have reaffirmed the importance of our commitment to equality and inclusion - highlighting areas where we need to do better internally and emphasising the urgent need to make progress with tangible and transparent actions.
In September 2020, A New Direction undertook an internal Black Equality and Empowerment (BEE) review led by an external consultant, Ola Awosika, who presented a list of recommendations based on reviewing our existing processes and policies and spending a week with our full team.
These recommendations, alongside thoughts and feedback on the review from our team and trustees, have been used to inform a list of actions that will enable us to take the steps necessary to improve our organisational practices and be the organisation we want to be.
We have reaffirmed our organisational commitment to challenging racism, developing an anti-racist framework and ethical framework this financial year (2020-21) to make this explicit and ensure clarity around our expectations of our team and external partners.
We have updated our 2020-21 Equality and Inclusion Action Plan to include achieving the actions that arose from the BEE review for the remainder of this financial year, and the 2021-22 Equality and Inclusion Action Plan will be developed in March 2021.
We will look at representation at all levels of the organisation and improve our understanding of positive action in employment and recruitment, and how this is applied at A New Direction.
We will improve our internal processes - how we understand and enact our policies and procedures, run meetings, communicate across teams, and how we understand and reflect on our values. We will review and refresh our HR policies and procedures, including our Equality and Diversity Policy and Dignity at Work Policies, ensuring they are understood, implemented and ‘lived’ organisation-wide.
We will ensure that our learning through this process informs a refresh of our vision, mission and values, and we will play an active and positive role in the conversation about equality and inclusion in the sectors we serve.
As an organisation, we have implemented a year-long programme of Anti-Racist training, with learning and development involving all staff and trustees. So far, together we have looked at use of language, Unconscious Bias and understanding the power dynamics and privilege that are involved in microaggressions. We have worked with some inspiring, thoughtful and supportive facilitators including Ola Awosika, Abi Eniola and Bilal Harry Khan, who we would like to thank for their support and input.
We implemented a Forum for Black Staff - a facilitated action learning set providing the opportunity for personal development, resilience, and leadership.
We have come a long way in the past few months, but there is still further to go - and we are pleased to have a clear path ahead.
We would like to thank members of our Black Empowerment and Equality Working Group, who have put so much commitment, time and energy into this process.