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We won’t stop: an update on our anti-racism work

Tearfund’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Liz Muir, shares an update on Tearfund’s anti-racism work.

Written by Liz Muir | 19 Nov 2021

Image credit: Tom Price/Tearfund

In August 2020, in the wake of the global outcry about racial injustice, we made it clear that Tearfund stands in solidarity with the communities who have experienced centuries of oppression because of their race and ethnicity. We released an anti-racism statement which outlined what we are doing, and what we will do, to be an actively anti-racist organisation.
It has now been over a year since those commitments were made, and I have been involved in implementing our anti-racism action plan at all levels of the organisation. I  wanted to share a little about the progress we have made so far to ensure that our work and our workplaces are welcoming spaces where all people feel that they belong. 

Why we care about racism

 In Paul’s letter to Titus, he encourages believers to learn to do good by meeting the needs of others – ‘our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives' (Titus 3:14).

At Tearfund, we acknowledge that racism has caused great harm and created an urgent need for many of the people we work with.

We are already committed to impartiality in our work, to ensure that we don’t discriminate against people living in poverty from marginalised groups. And as a Christian organisation, we are committed to being Christ-centred, compassionate, servant-hearted, truthful and courageous. However, despite our attempts to deliver our work in ways that honour all of these things, the structures in society that transcend governments and churches can make this challenging. 

Unfortunately, in many of the countries we work in, racism and discrimination continues to negatively impact groups of people. Racial and ethnic hierarchies linked to colonialism and other historical events have shaped the way we view people that are different from us.  

Earlier this year, when reflecting on the links between poverty and racial justice, I encouraged us to recognise the crucial role that racial justice plays in freeing people from poverty. In the same way, unless we commit to anti-racist practice, we risk missing the opportunity to reach those in greatest need. 

What we have been doing

Our call to serve those in greatest need keeps us moving forward with our commitment to being an anti-racist organisation, and we wanted to let you know about our progress in three main areas.

Here are some of the actions we have taken during 2020/21:

Created accountability

  • Established a Diversity and Inclusion Board Committee.
  • Published a diversity and inclusion statement on our website.
  • Appointed new Trustee Directors from the majority world – one from Asia and the other from Africa.

Developed understanding

  • Started reverse mentoring with our CEO to give him a fresh perspective on issues of racial injustice, both personally and professionally.
  • Started an in-depth programme of work with the Executive Team to examine issues related to race and ethnicity.
  • Continued to discuss the impact of colonialism on our policies and practices through our internal discussion spaces – including a book club, learning seminars and workshops, and diversity and inclusion drop-in sessions.
  • Invited senior leaders from our country teams around the world to attend and contribute their ideas to meetings of the UK-based Executive Team in order to introduce ethnically and culturally diverse ideas.

Diversified recruitment 

  • Set diversity recruitment targets, with an initial focus on race and ethnicity.
  • Encouraged global recruitment for roles not based in the UK.
  • Commissioned a recruitment agency to help us identify a strongly diverse shortlist for the role of International Director.
  • Started advertising job vacancies on a website that helps us reach more candidates from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

There is so much more that we have done and are committed to doing. A more detailed update is available here.

We won’t stop

We know that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. But we are committed to doing it, no matter how long it takes. We will walk this journey with humility, and passionately pursue the restoration of broken relationships.

We are willing to continue to sit in the discomfort and change that this work will bring. As individuals, we will challenge ourselves.

As an organisation, we will grow. As followers of Jesus, we will act justly. I am excited to see how this work will shape who we are in the future, and I am honoured to walk this journey with you, our loyal supporters, and my colleagues across the world. 

Written by

Written by  Liz Muir

Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Tearfund

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