Research perspectives

Research finds racism rife in charity sector

Research by Voice4Change England and the charities’ chief executives’ organisation ACEVO has found that

  • just over two-thirds of BAME charity staff have experienced, witnessed or heard stories of racism in the sector.
  • 50% reported feeling the need to tone down their behaviour in order to fit in within the sector.
  • 45% of respondents said they had been subject to ignorant or insensitive questioning about their culture or religion
  • 30% of total respondents reported being treated as an intellectual inferior.
  • Nearly a quarter, 23%, reported being subject to excessive surveillance and scrutiny by colleagues, managers or supervisors.

The report argues that there needs to be a change of culture and power dynamics in the sector. It says charities need to make racial equity a focus of external work as well as setting meaningful internal diversity, equity and inclusion targets, with charity leaders accountable for making progress on race equality. It says the problem in the charity sector is not only an absence of BAME people; once inside the sector, significant numbers of BAME people experience discrimination and harm.  

The findings in the research report Home Truths: Undoing Racism and Delivering Real Diversity in the Charity Sector, came from 493 detailed responses to an online survey of BAME people working in the sector, 24 in-depth interviews with white and BAME participants, and two roundtables, one with racial justice activists and one with “systems-shapers” such as funders and membership bodies.