Posted on Monday 20 March 2023
Our journey towards anti-oppressive recruitment practice at Young Lives vs Cancer – Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive
In 2021 we launched our first Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy, Brave Not Perfect, in which we set out our ambitions to be a diverse and inclusive organisation where everyone feels they belong.
With this goal in mind, one of the key pieces of work we undertook last year was an end to end review of our recruitment processes for staff, volunteers and trustees, to identify how to make our roles more accessible and processes more inclusive, so that anyone with the right skills can succeed at Young Lives vs Cancer, irrespective of difference.
We engaged the Social Justice Collective to carry out this work, speaking with people across our workforce who have been recently recruited as well as recruiting managers, and conducting a comprehensive review of our processes. The results of the review have given us some clear insights and recommendations into how we can improve the way we recruit, and the steps we can take to create an actively anti-oppressive approach – this means we acknowledge that there are wider systemic issues which these processes exist within, and that we all have a part to play in helping to change this and remove the barriers those in minoritised communities face.
The review showed that the diversity of our workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of young people and families Young Lives vs Cancer supports. This was something we already knew, and was the foundation of our strategic priority in Brave not Perfect to build a workforce that is representative of the people and communities that we serve. We hope that the actions we are taking as a result of this review will lead to tangible change in this area over time.
It also found that whilst we have pockets of good practice in recruitment, this isn’t consistent – we give managers some guidance but these practices aren’t built into how we recruit as standard across the organisation. One of the first actions we’ll be taking is to develop a recruitment policy which clearly sets out our commitments to inclusive practice and our expectations of how we recruit. Recommendations from the review will also inform projects to update and improve recruitment for both staff and volunteers, which will run throughout 2023/24 and will include improved guidance, templates and training, including anti-oppression and allyship training for our leadership teams.
The findings of the review also gave us some vital insight into the experience of staff in some minoritised communities. Black staff and staff of colour who participated in the review said that they would not recommend working for the charity citing reasons such as lack of visible allyship, the low numbers of people from marginalised communities across the workforce, and lack of career progression. I want to thank everyone who took part in the review for their honesty and bravery in sharing their experiences – this insight is really important to us as it tells us where we need to do more work. We actively chose to work with the Social Justice Collective because we knew they would give us a candid view of where we are and what it will take for us to achieve our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging goals.
The experience of these groups is something we must act to change, and we are committed to improving the experience for everyone at Young Lives vs Cancer. We’re clear that the improvements we make can’t stop at recruitment, and that we will need to continue to develop our culture and ways of working so that anti-oppressive practice is threaded through our full workforce experience. We know others across the sector are undertaking similar journeys, and we’re keen to work with and learn from others who already do this well. This will be an ongoing journey for us, and a key underpinning priority as we develop our next strategy. While these conversations continue, we are confident that improving our ways of recruiting is a good place to start and an area in which we can effect meaningful change.
The establishment of the Taskforce comes after almost two years of campaigning by Young Lives vs Cancer and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG), who together have been calling on UK government to implement a dedicated Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan.
Dominique Davis will take up her new role at the end of January