Our commitment to Equity Diversity and Inclusion

An overview of our EDI policy and plan

Our EDI policy and plan is ambitious. It covers all aspects of our organisation, from governance and partnership working, recruitment and staff wellbeing, to understanding and representing the diverse communities we serve, and ensuring our services meet their needs so we can strive for equality.

We aim to create and promote a culture that will support trustees, staff and volunteers to feel empowered, knowledgeable and able to administer our EDI Policy in all of our interactions with service users, members, partners, stakeholders and suppliers. We will promote equity, diversity and inclusion and will take steps to challenge discrimination, harassment and victimisation in everything we do.

We understand that everyone’s life experiences are different and we aim to encourage a culture of open-ness and ensure our people feel comfortable to ask questions related to EDI. We know that discrimination and oppression takes many forms and that regular experience of micro aggressions can be as harmful as overt discrimination.

We have started with understanding diversity within our own staff teams to establish if we reflect the communities we serve. We are proud to say that the diversity within our team is higher than the average both nationally and for Newcastle in relation to all protected characteristics apart from disability; we have fewer staff with a disability than we would expect to see when looking at the number of working age people who have a disability compared to the population. This is now a key priority for us and we’re looking at ways to ensure our recruitment process is accessible to disabled people.

Language and terminology

Language is complex and there are many different terms we use to describe communities. At Connected Voice, we regularly consult with local communities around terminology.

Ethnically minoritised communities: In the August 2021, we consulted with the Haref Network about terminology. The government stopped using ‘BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic)’ and recommended ‘ethnic minority’ as a replacement. However, The Haref Network felt that ‘ethnically minoritised’ recognises that individuals and communities have been minoritised through the social processes of power and marginalisation rather than just existing in distinct statistical minorities. It also better reflects the fact that some ethnic groups that are minorities in the UK are majorities in the global population.

We are well aware that any term that groups together many ethnicities and racialised groups and cultures will have its issues and that categorisation in general has a long history of being problematic. The Haref Network is composed of people from many backgrounds who all experience the world in different ways and we are committed to using specific language wherever possible (e.g. Black Caribbean, Pakistani etc.).

We also recognise that language and terminology change and evolve so we are currently reviewing this terminology once again with the Haref Network.

LGBTQIA+ communities: Following some training we received from Curious Arts and consultation with Connected Voice colleagues, we decided to adopt the acronym ‘LGBTQIA+’. It might seem long but it is important that the letters representing queer / questioning, intersex and asexual / ally are included alongside lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender so more people feel represented. When referring to different communities, we are mindful that there is no single community that people identify with. Many people, particularly more marginalised people, may not feel part of any community. We are sensitive about using ‘queer’ as it is a ‘reclaimed slur’. Though it has been used widely in this way for 30 years, it is still not universally used and we understand that not all people react positively to the term.

People: Across Connected Voice, we support organisations and individuals. We are mindful of the dangers of giving people a label. Although not intended, a label can imply judgement, bias, stigma, and power imbalance.  It can strip people of individual identity. We have heard from people how it makes them feel dehumanised when they are described as  ‘partners’,  ‘clients’ or ‘service users’. For this reason, we always refer to people by name and we use the term ‘people’ when describing our work more generally.