An Update on our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

By Caroline Walker, CEO

In August 2021 the UK office of Together We Learn committed to actively review our equality, diversity and inclusion practices and work to improve them for the overall benefit of our organisation.

At that time we stated that:

We recognise that structural racism is an issue in the UK charity sector.

We realise that there is more that we could and should be doing to be anti-racist.

We also recognise that diversity is not only race, it must consider gender, sexuality, social class, religion and ability. We are working on this too.

A great deal has happened in Ethiopia since that time which has meant that all our staff and volunteers have had to go above and beyond our normal programme delivery to adapt our approach and meet the new needs of communities living with conflict. Communications was one of the first casualties of our redirected focus so I apologise that this is the first update we are providing on our work to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in our UK operations.

Our progress has also been affected by time constraints to dedicate to the review, the need to challenge and shift our perspectives first, and the need to consider the potential unintended impact of our actions. However, I am pleased to say that work has been ongoing and we have made some important and tangible improvements.

These changes include:

  • Establishment of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee comprised of staff and trustees and meeting on a regular basis.
  • Improvement of our knowledge and understanding – we proactively seek, share and read materials related to EDI, from Layla F Saad’s Me and White Supremacy to Bond’s Racism, Power and Truth report.
  • Review of our current situation – we have carried out surveys of staff and trustee attitudes, a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis of our current EDI practices and introduced exit interviews to better understand the experiences of former staff and volunteers.
  • Development of policies and training – all staff and trustees have completed EDI training and it is now a standard part of our induction process, we have written an EDI policy and are in the process of drafting an anti-racism charter, we have made adjustments to our recruitment processes to ensure they are inclusive.
  • Paid internship opportunities – we are pleased to have developed partnerships with Queen Mary University and Crankstart at the University of Oxford so that we can offer paid internship opportunities for those who could most benefit. Queen Mary University was recognised as the best university for social mobility in the country while Crankstart specifically supports students from lower-income households and care experienced students. We strongly encourage applications from the Ethiopian diaspora via these schemes.
  • Localisation is at the heart of our strategy – our ambition is to become more locally-led in our work. The Together We Learn Ethiopia team are an exceptional group of committed, professional and experienced staff who are well positioned to lead on delivering our shared mission in Ethiopia. We have held discussions with the Ethiopian team to agree our vision and clarify how we can shift more power to the Ethiopian charity. Our next strategy, which is currently in development, centres this aim, with the core objective that “Together We Learn Ethiopia has the capability and independence to lead on our shared mission of equal access to quality education.” The strategy will be supported by a theory of change outlining how we will meet the objective, a dedicated budget for capacity building, and regular reviews on progress at board level.
Wordcloud of Strengths identified by our SWOT exercise
Wordcloud of Opportunities identified by our SWOT exercise

We are proud to be able to demonstrate that our intentions of August 2021 are being put into action. As a small team working with significant time and financial constraints, I hope the progress made shows how important we believe these changes are.

There is still more to do, and the committee will continue to meet, develop our objectives and deliver further improvements. In the meantime, we thank you for your support and interest and welcome any questions or feedback you might have!

Together We Learn - Ethiopia