It’s Easy to Talk about Equality…..

19 July 2021

I’d never thought of myself as a football fan, but I watched the Euro 2020 final with keen anticipation along with so many others. At the end, my dominant feeling was one of grief for those boys – as a mother of two sons of similar age I could absolutely imagine the acute pain of not meeting your own expectations, those of the team, and of millions of the watching public. To pin an entire nation’s hopes and dreams on a game of football is in one sense ridiculous, but in another sense understandable, and the pressure on them must have been intolerable. And then to suffer racist abuse on top is indescribably wrong and searing. Marcus Rashford’s statement after the game hit exactly the right note – he was prepared to take the criticism for missing a penalty, but not for who he is.

Having to put up with abuse or discrimination because of who you are constitutes an injustice that all of us must fight. This is no less true in the workplace than on the sports field, and no less true in WRAP than any other workplace. And perhaps a bit more important in the environment movement than in some other fields, because we have to be honest with ourselves, ours is a movement that is predominantly white and middle class. There is undoubtedly history that explains this, but the imperative now is to accept that failing to change risks not only failing to play our part in creating a more diverse, just and energized society, but also missing crucial perspectives on the issues we work on and their solutions. Ultimately, we want our workforce to be representative of, and responsive to, the partners and communities we serve, which are increasingly diverse and international.

It is all too easy to talk about a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, but putting principle into practice can be more challengingIn common with many other organisations, WRAP isn’t going to be able to demonstrate stellar results in short order, which is why we talk about being on a ‘journey’. The Trustees and the leadership team wholeheartedly support all the work undertaken by the organization so far, but we also recognise our need to broaden our own knowledge and understanding of EDI issues.

So here are some of our starting points. WRAP is working with the National Centre for Diversity, has introduced its FREDIE principles (Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, Engagement) and is working on embedding them at the heart of our work. This includes EDI objectives in leadership appraisals, and introducing internal awards for those exemplifying the principles in their day-to-day work. Other initiatives include the introduction of a diversity network and enhanced staff training. We also strive to ensure that WRAP has inclusive recruitment practices, such as extending our direct sourcing of candidates to include more social media and other inclusive channels, and partnering with networks who can help us reach all segments of the community. We will have a quarterly EDI dashboard report, including recruitment data, and will be publishing a brochure outlining all our EDI work at the start of August.

These initiatives have led to WRAP being named in the top 100 most inclusive workplaces in the National Centre for Diversity’s FREDIE Awards 2021; we have also just found out that we have been conditionally awarded the Centre’s Investors in Diversity standard. We are proud of this recognition, but not sanguine, and there is much work to do. I want to affirm that WRAP’s journey towards equality, diversity and inclusion is as important to me as WRAP’s financial and environmental performance. The Board has its own clear set of commitments to EDI actions and to the FREDIE principles and we will monitor our performance against them – WRAP’s great strengths are in data, evidence and evaluation so using those tools in this context will help to keep us on track. Perhaps most of all, I am looking forward to the Trustees and Executive Team continuing to work together to make visible progress, and using our strengths of mutual support and challenge to push us continually further down this road.