VAS Equality and Anti-Racism Statement of Intent
One of VAS’s strategic priorities is to reduce inequalities – of any sort. The Black Lives Matter movement and disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities has underlined the historic and continued structural inequalities and racism in our society.
At VAS we recognise the need for us to actively critique how we are working and what we do, to ensure we engage all communities in the city and become a more actively anti-racist organisation.
Our aim is to be an anti-racist organisation. We will:
- Work with and build relationships with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic led organisations.
- Generate opportunities to work for and with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
- Stand up for equality and use our position to call out and seek to reduce structural inequalities where we see them.
- Support the Sheffield Race Equality Commission and be active in contributing to its evidence gathering and implementing its recommendations.
We will develop our approach and actions to achieve this. In doing so we acknowledge that this is ongoing work that will require continual improvement, reflection and action.
Our starting point
We know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities in Sheffield are and feel excluded, isolated and marginalised. They experience prejudice and disadvantage.
Many of the deficits highlighted in the ACEVO report Home Truths are true of our organisation.
We recognise that there is much more that we should do to rise to this important and significant challenge.
Our organisational values speak well to this challenge, and offer a framework for taking this work forward, as we review what we do and how we do it. They are: integrity; openness; resilience; confidence. We believe that these values provide a framework through which we can honestly assess and develop our approach; learn and change.
However, we recognise that our organisational culture may discourage discussion and frustrate action on tackling racism.
Our focus on race does not in any way signal any complacency in respect of our position in relation to other structural inequalities. However, we believe that a particular concerted effort is needed if we are to become anti-racist.
Our Strategic Priorities
Our anti-racism plan will build on our strategic priorities and values, it will include actions both within the organisation and in how the organisation relates to the external environment. Our priorities are:
- Supporting organisations
- Partnerships and people
At all levels of VAS, we view this challenge as a significant opportunity which we are determined to grasp.
Our Board includes three trustees from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
The current representation of non-white staff is 20%, which includes two middle-managers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
Our senior management team is wholly white.
We have an ethnic pay gap and we have published details on our website. [link here]
We also acknowledge that we may not be enabling people to progress in our organisation.
Our approach, activity and services
We will change our internal structures and ways of working, to ensure we have our own house in order.
We have developed and are implementing a detailed equality and anti-racism action plan. That is led by the chief executive and is a “live” document. It sits alongside our business plan and is embedded in our business processes, with each team and project actively considering and developing the actions they will take.
We have formed a Race Equality Working Group, which is a subgroup of the Board of Trustees and includes staff, management, and trustees. This group will help us to develop our approach to being an actively anti-racist organisation.
We will do this by continually striving to widen the range of voices we listen to and learn from.
This approach ensures that we are bringing a wider range of lived experience and perspectives to a conversation that will be ongoing about anti-racism.
We will develop and refine our leadership role in the city to serve an anti-racist agenda. This will be reflected in how we work with other VCS and statutory organisations.
We will ensure that the services we offer meet the needs of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people and communities.
We will review regularly our role as a coordinator and a funder to ensure that we are not reinforcing the structural barriers where racism thrives.
We will seek out, listen to and value the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic staff, volunteers, clients and stakeholders.
We will set out the outcomes we seek to achieve, the specific actions we will undertake, and indicators of how we will know if we have delivered on our goals.
We will hold ourselves to account through open conversations with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic organisations and colleagues.
We will report on progress to every meeting of our Board of Trustees, which will retain overall responsibility for our action plan.
We will report on progress each year as part of our Trustees’ annual report.
We welcome reflection and comment on this document.
 A note about language – We are all too aware of the challenges derived from the words we use to describe different groups of people, whether in relation to class, poverty, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or age. The words used to describe ethnicity are numerous and changing, and are felt to be acceptable or not by different people and in varying contexts. Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, People of Colour, Racially Minoritised People, Racially Marginalised People, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers are all in current use. Some are reduced to acronyms – BAME, BAMER (to include refugees) and PoC – which some find to be dehumanising. We have decided we will only use words to describe a group of people where this is necessary. We will use the words “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic People”. We will not use the acronym BAME. We will use more specific descriptive words where this is necessary, for example “of Pakistani descent”, “Ghanaian”, “Polish”, “refugees”, “asylum seekers” and so on. We will use the word “white” or, where more specificity is needed, “White British”.