BLOG: Time for tangible action to ensure diversity and tackle inequalities
By Helen Evans, Chair of the G15 and Chief Executive of Network Homes
The racism, injustice and discrimination that still exists in our society will not change by itself. A message from the Black Lives Matters protests has been that it is not enough to simply not be racist, changing society requires us all to actively be anti-racist. To help to make change happen.
When I began working in social housing many years ago there was discrimination against women, against black and ethnic minority people, against LGBT people, against people with disabilities, people who looked different, had different beliefs. It was prevalent in the workplace and it was prevalent in communities and wider society. It was in the media, in sport and in politics and in organisations.
Looking back, it is hard to credit how extensive and pervasive it was. From mainstream television performers to football crowds to politicians, to police officers. Sometimes overt and direct, sometimes subtle and institutional but everywhere.
Back then I was a believer – I believed time and goodwill and good intentions would resolve this problem that was a relic of history. I thought that by now we would be living in a country and a world where all people were equally valued, fairly treated and able to make the best of their lives without being obstructed or impeded or oppressed by prejudice and discrimination.
It soon enough became clear this belief was unfounded. Things have changed for the better but not enough. Progress is made but then reversed. The overt is more covert but the transformation is incomplete. People are still suffering from discrimination, prejudice and structural disadvantage.
Good intentions and goodwill won’t change this, but it must be changed. When faced with a long term, entrenched and intractable problem it is hard to know where to start to tackle it. This is especially so if things that have been tried before having failed or made slow and limited progress.
Thinking about all this again from a Network Homes and G15 perspective we decided that we should come up with practical, tangible, time limited actions and targets that would help us make sure that we go further and faster than before. They won’t complete the transformation that must happen – but they will make a difference and when we have achieved them, we will move on from there. At Network Homes we have summed it all up in our ten-point plan which you can read here and the G15 pledges which are here.
Whilst the G15 and Network Homes have promoted diversity and equality for a number of years we take responsibility for not having done enough to disrupt the inertia of those wider and systemic societal issues. These plans with the practical, time limited actions and targets will help us to make sure that we go further and faster than before.
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