Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Alzheimer's Society

What you can expect from Alzheimer's Society on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Recent tragic events in the United States, and the disproportionate number of Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic deaths as a result of coronavirus closer to home in the UK, have motivated the team here at Alzheimer’s Society to clarify where we stand on issues of race, diversity and inclusion.

Although this has taken a little while to publish, I am extremely grateful to a range of colleagues from Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic backgrounds for supporting me to get this statement right. 

Kate Lee, CEO, Alzheimer’s Society
July 2020

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Alzheimer’s Society – What you can expect of us

At Alzheimer’s Society we believe everyone affected by dementia has the right to live their life the way they want to live it, whether living with the diagnosis or supporting someone who is. Core to that belief is that everyone has the right to be the person they are, to live without fear or prejudice regardless of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, faith and belief, or a disability, like dementia. Everyone should be able to make a full contribution to society the way they want to make it, and live in a world which demonstrates respect and values diversity. It is vital that in everything Alzheimer’s Society does, it walks that talk.

However, our commitment goes further than simply creating an inclusive and diverse team of volunteers and staff, culturally appropriate services and ensuring dementia support is fairly available to all. We want to understand what institutional discrimination looks like, behaviours and causes that can be deep-rooted within an organisation, and proactively work to remove them if and where they exist.

Eight principles govern how we are approaching all our diversity and inclusion work – these may change or develop over time:

  1. We will be publicly accountable and transparent about our progress.
  2. We will focus initially on the recruitment, retention and development of a diverse and inclusive workforce which we believe to be the route to sustainable and permanent improvement.
  3. We will set ourselves goals and targets and regularly review progress with our team and, just as importantly, in our services and who we reach with dementia support.
  4. We will ensure our policies and actions back up what we stand for.
  5. We will analyse data from surveys and evaluations to look specifically at minority groups and respond accordingly; this includes data on staff, volunteers, those who access our services and our supporters.
  6. We will proactively seek out opinions of those who may be (or perceive themselves to be) overlooked and report on any appropriate actions needed.
  7. We will ensure our whole workforce is supported in making informed and inclusive decisions regarding equality and diversity, and embraces living the values of respect and inclusion.
  8. Our leaders at all levels will front our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive organisation and be held to account for doing so.

What does this mean for race equality at Alzheimer’s Society?

Alzheimer’s Society believes all racism and abuse of privilege is wrong. We are committed to creating a fair and inclusive organisation and tackling any form of racism within our organisation, including our staff, our volunteers and our activities, as well as challenging the impact of racism within the wider dementia arena. This includes institutional racism or unconscious bias, where unknowingly we may have created barriers to Black, Asian or other Minority Ethnic groups being treated equally.

We do not want this approach to be tokenistic; it is time to give voice and power to those who have not had it for centuries. This will be a journey for us, one we are up for. Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (B.A.M.E.) communities have rarely had proper dementia support; it is time to change that, and that change starts with us becoming comfortable with challenging ourselves. We know that now is the time to act - the time for talking is over. We are committing as a starting point to the following challenges from the ACEVO Home Truths Report, as these fit with our own principles:

  1. Integrate explicit race equity goals into charitable work and focus activities accordingly.
  2. Co-design internal EDI targets with B.A.M.E. staff and report on them externally in our Trustee Report and Accounts.
  3. Publish ethnicity pay gap data.
  4. Review attraction activity, recruitment criteria and processes, ensuring that values and including lived experience are promoted in alignment with our organisation’s vision.
  5. Invest in supporting and safeguarding B.A.M.E. and other diversity groups, including reviewing external and internal complaints procedures.
  6. Ensure all staff surveys and data can be analysed so that we can understand the nuances for our B.A.M.E. team members and other diverse groups.
  7. Review and develop effective training offers to ensure inclusivity of all groups in all that we do.
  8. Regularly review the equality impact audits of our work and proactively move to make our services and other activities more accessible and culturally sensitive.
  9. We will consciously consider how we represent the views, voices and images of those from B.A.M.E. backgrounds but also ensure that this is inherent in our work, not a token gesture.

And as CEO and senior leaders we will:

  1. Learn more about racism and current anti-racist thinking; this will be built into personal objectives.
  2. Regularly hold ourselves to account and be held to account by our B.A.M.E. staff through formal B.A.M.E. forums and our Employee Forum (our minutes will demonstrate this).
  3. Take responsibility for learning how racism is manifest in our organisation.
  4. Jointly, with the Chair, lead on and be held responsible and accountable for progress on EDI targets.
  5. Proactively ensure B.A.M.E. and other diversity voices are heard in forums and task groups across our organisation and that comprehensive training and mentoring is used that enables managers to understand what is required to properly ‘hear’ often ‘drowned out’ voices. This is relevant to staff and volunteers but, as importantly, those living with a dementia diagnosis from B.A.M.E. communities and their carers.
  6. Despite a challenging funding environment, we will be innovative in how we might encourage more B.A.M.E. initiatives such as the mentoring and sponsorship of B.A.M.E. staff. We will identify talent within this staff group and proactively track progress against peers.
  7. Proactively contribute to the efforts of other organisations within the dementia sector who want to join us in tackling racism.

This is a statement of intent. It isn’t our plan. We are working on that now and over the coming months, with our amazing staff team. Details of more aspirational goals, targets and approaches will be communicated soon.

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