Cancer has a devastating impact on the lives of children and young people, from all backgrounds, and all walks of life. We operate within a system of structural inequity, a system that provides advantages for some members and disadvantages for others. We cannot make sure that no family faces cancer alone if we aren't doing our part to address the inequity that exists in our health systems and within our own organisation.
This is why Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Belonging is such a clear focus of our 2021-2023 Organisational Strategy, and why we are publishing our first charity wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy now. It is important and what we do is important, and this is why we are making this change.
BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE
Over the last few years addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging has been a major concern for the organisation. We were at the early stages of developing our approach to addressing DEIB, and had taken some steps toward doing so. On 2nd June 2020, following the death of George Floyd in police custody in May, along with millions of other individuals and organisations, we posted a black square on our Instagram account with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday. It was a way of showing our support to taking action against racism and police brutality.
We knew it was not enough and this hit us even more when service user Enkay contacted us directly. She shared her concerns that the post was tokenistic and called us out for the lack of representation for young people on our social media platforms. We knew we had to increase the pace at which we were addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and make bigger and bolder choices. Enkay was brave in taking the steps to call us out, and has been a key part of our DEIB journey toward taking a brave and powerful leap into changing our culture for good.
MAKING REAL CHANGES
Since our first conversation with Enkay back in spring 2020, we have taken intentional steps towards building a culture that embraces diversity, priorities equity, values inclusion and fosters a sense of belonging. We've got a long way to go, but we're proud of the direction we're heading
- We appointed a Head of DEIB to steward our organisational approach to DEIB
- Our Executive Leadership team went on a DEIB development journey that has helped them transition into becoming active sponsors of DEIB
- We recruited a Trustee with DEIB experience, so that we have DEIB expertise at a governance level
- We launched the Brave Space and Knowledge Hour, monthly one-hour sessions dedicated to DEIB discussions
- We published our DEIB Statement of Intent internally and externally, to demonstrate our commitment and hold ourselves accountable for change
- We created a DEIB steering group made up of staff, volunteers, young people and parents to help us create our DEIB strategy.
THE JOURNEY TO COME
Our DEIB strategy is the manifestation of our commitment to change. It has been developed with staff, volunteers, young people and families from across Young Lives vs Cancer, and is the result of many honest, and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about who we are, how we work, who we promote, and how we support our staff and volunteers and support children, young people and families.
We are at the start of this journey and we intend to share our successes, failings, learnings and questions along the way. We will be brave not perfect.
Making change happen is more complex and difficult. It requires time and money, as well as courage, openness, diligence and collaboration among everyone, spanning countries, regions, directorates, departments and professions. We each have a role to play in making Young Lives vs Cancer more accessible, open and inclusive to all communities, but we cannot do this without collective action. We invite challenge and collaboration as we commit to the shared goal of social justice.
Chief Executive Rachel Kirby-Rider and Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Kei-Retta Farrell
Introducing our DEIB strategy
Our strategy details our three priorities for the next two years. It also summarises the principles that underpin them, the ways we will work to achieve them, and the metrics by which we will measure our progress and impact. Here's a summary of what we're setting out to achieve and how.
1: Our DEIB Playbook
1. OUR DEIB PLAYBOOK
Our playbook contains our principles for addressing DEIB at Young Lives vs Cancer. Our playbook is our foundation, it is how we will make our decisions, and make sure act with integrity. We will use our values (Bravery, Integrity, Confidence, One Team) as a guide and underpin our approach to DEIB through these.
- We will be proactive and courageous; we will do what is right not what is easy.
- We will stand up to any behaviour that goes against our values.
- We will communicate often and regularly; we will encourage radical candour and create spaces to hold difficult conversations necessary for our collective journey towards healing.
- We will cede our power, and create the conditions for the empowerment of our staff and volunteers to authentically act out DEIB.
- We will be transparent about our journey and accountable for our progress.
- We will model the good practice we want to see, by co-producing our activities from start to finish with our staff, volunteers, children, young people and families, with the explicit aim of blending diverse lived experience, with the right skills and expertise.
- We will seek to understand the lived experience of all our stakeholders. We will be intentional about understanding the experiences of those from minoritised communities, recognising intersectionality and including their voices in our decision-making.
- We will call things what they are, and speak about inequity with authenticity, we won't dilute any messages no matter how uncomfortable.
- We will stand against ALL forms of discrimination, identifying it, challenging it, and using our power and influence to leverage systematic change.
- We will ensure that DEIB is the golden thread that runs through our new brand ambition and propositions. We will ensure everyone is clear about how DEIB is essential to our core purpose.
- We will be open-minded and flexible in our approach to DEIB. We will be responsive to changes in the external environment and we will accept that priorities may change as we learn more about the nuances of the lived experiences of our staff, volunteers, children, young people and their families.
- We will utilise a test 'n' learn approach that will encourage innovation and provide staff and volunteers with the freedom to fail. We know the journey will not be perfect, so the sooner the failure occurs, the sooner the learning begins.
- We will ensure our staff and volunteers are supported to make informed, inclusive and equitable decisions.
- We will support, value and celebrate our differences, encouraging everyone who engages with us to bring their whole-selves to every interaction.
- We will build on what we do well. Anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practice are at the core of social work values. We will utilise this knowledge, skills and experience to build for the future.
- We will work collaboratively across our Young Lives vs Cancer community to harness our collective power, recognising the whole is greater than the sum of our parts to create systematic change.
2: Our vision
2. OUR VISION
Our ambition is to be a charity that embraces the breadth and depth of diversity at all levels of the organisation. We want to have a culture that is inclusive of everyone who works, volunteers and interacts with us, the goal being that people will feel like they truly belong here, whoever they are. DEIB in action means.
- Is made up of talented staff and volunteers from a wide range of background with different experiences, skills, knowledge and expertise
- Is understanding of how they can advocate for DEIB and are empowered to make a difference.
- Feel like they have a voice that is respected, valued and listened to
- Have inclusive recruitment, retention, progression and development experiences
- Are equitable, accessible and inclusive. All children and young people have the right support that better reflects their assessed needs
- Address the needs of minoritised groups and we challenge ourselves to meet these needs as well as we do for others.
- Is inclusive and enabling, everyone is encouraged to be their full and true selves - staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, children, young people and families
- Enables challenge and candour, we proactively invite new and different views and arrive at the best decisions for all.
- Is high quality. We have accurate and valid demographic data and insight into the experiences of all of our community - staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, children, young people and families
- We seek continuous feedback from all of our community - staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, children, young people and families and make real-time changes to increase impact.
OUR BRAND AND VOICE
- Is socially relevant, progressive, authentic and relatable to all
- Sets the best practice makers on DEIB for other organisations to follow
- Creates wider systemic change. We promote health and social justice through our partnerships and policy influencing
We know we still have work to do and we are ready to progress to the next step of our roadmap. But to do that, we need to achieve the following:
- DEIB strategy - clear objectives, good governance mechanisms and a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation and learning framework.
- Increasing workforce engagement on DEIB - increased ownership of DEIB activity at all levels of the organisation.
- Accurate and valid people data - up to date insights into the experiences of staff, volunteers, supporters, children, young people and families.
- Inclusive recruitment - improved and more inclusive recruitmnet processes and experiences for staff and volunteers.
- DEIB Learning and Development initiatives - a range of DEIB learning experiences offered to staff and volunteers with high uptake.
- Future planning - DEIB is a key input in decision making and planning activities.
3: Our strategic priorities
3. OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITIES
We have a clear understanding of our strategic priorities, commitments and DEIB enablers. These are organisational priorities and commitments, they span across all of our business areas and we're all responsible for bringing them to fruition. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is everyone's business and everyone's responsibility.
DEIB in the workforce
We will build a workforce that is representative of the people and communities we serve and develop a culture where everyone is able to be themselves, and supported to be their best.
DEIB as a service provider
We will reach more of the people who need us by building stronger relationships with minoritised communities, better understanding their experiences and centering their voices in our decision-making.
DEIB in the wider system
We will speak bravely and loudly on systemic inequalities, amplifying the voices of minoritised communities, collaborating with partners in new and radical ways to promote health and social justice, so that the system works better for all children and young people and parents.
We know we must be accountable for the changes we seek through a continued process of monitoring, engagement, analysis, reflection and action. We will be brave, not perfect and we'll hold ourselves accountable for our actions and their impact over the next two years.
Our monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework will keep us fully focused on delivering impact in the most effective way posisble.
- We will monitor focused set of metrics to reflect the shifts we are making
- We will engage our staff, volunteers, supporters, children, young people and families regularly
- We will assess, evaluate and make choices about our priorities quarterly
- We will report regularly to the Executive Leadership Team
- We will discuss progress against the strategy with the Board of Trustees annually
- We will publish a DEIB update externally annually.
Delivering this plan will bring us a step toward our ambition to be a charity that embraces the breadth and depth of diversity at all levels of the organisation. And to have a culture that is inclusive of everyone who works, volunteers, and interacts with us, the goal being that people will feel like they truly belong at Young Lives vs Cancer, whoever they are.
This strategy was built in collaboration with our staff, volunteers, children, young people and supporters, but we recognise that we have much more to learn. We will strive to be flexible and curious as we continue to learn from the experiences of others. We recognise and understand that things are changing all the time, change is inevitable, we understand that and embrace it.