QSA is an anti-poverty charity which provides practical support to people living on low incomes in London and around the UK to help them address issues affecting their lives, and which uses frontline knowledge to speak up about systemic issues and work towards social justice. We are guided by Quaker values of equality and justice; truthfulness in how we speak to power; and simplicity in how we provide services and communicate about them. We follow a relationship-centred approach, meaning that we strive to create a culture in which all relationships are nurtured and all voices are heard.
Why are equity, diversity and inclusion important to QSA?
Equity is important to QSA because we understand that UK society does not provide a level playing field for everyone. People’s life chances are affected by racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice, as well as an entrenched class system.
Diversity is important to QSA because we recognise that people’s diverse backgrounds and identities provide a breadth of experience and perspective which are vital to enabling an organisation to make sound decisions, and to be perceptive and effective. Given QSA’s mission, having lived experience of poverty at the centre of the organisation is particularly important.
Inclusion is important to QSA because we want people of all backgrounds and identities to feel welcomed into QSA and able to bring their authentic selves – whether as participants in our services or as staff, volunteers, partners, supporters or fundraisers.
QSA is in the process of developing an action plan to improve our attentiveness to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
What we have done so far
- During 2022 trustees and staff worked with an external specialist to explore issues of power, privilege and prejudice
- In May 2023 we invited all QSA staff, trustees and volunteers to participate in two confidential surveys to collect some baseline information
- The first survey asked people whether they identified as having lived experience of poverty (past or present); if they were black or from an ethnic minority background; and whether they had a disability or long-term health impairment – we compared the results with relevant benchmarks for the wider population of London / the UK
- The second survey asked people about how inclusive they feel QSA is for people who are from black and ethnic minority communities, those with disabilities or long term health conditions, and those with lived experience of poverty. There were also broader questions about how well QSA works towards its mission, fulfils its duty of care, respects different perspectives, and about its willingness to admit and learn from mistakes
- Some initial analysis of survey results has been done, and the next step is to convene a series of sessions with an open invite to all staff, trustees and volunteers who wish to participate, to look in more detail at the results, and agree specific actions, responsibility and timescales.
What will success look like?
Success won’t look like a checklist with things ticked off and then moved on from. Success will be a culture shift. It will be when EDI becomes a visible topic within QSA across all sorts of areas; from governance and leadership, to the delivery of our services, to how our staff and volunteers experience it. Our aim is for anyone who is involved with QSA to experience us as an organisation actively engaged in issues of inclusivity and committed to best practice.