We are committed to being an inclusive, diverse, culturally competent and anti-racist organisation.
That means we are committed to acknowledging, and taking action against structural, institutional and interpersonal racism. More specifically, in the context of our work, we are committed to addressing racism in the maternity, criminal justice, social services and immigration systems, the Voluntary and Community sector, and in our own organisation.
We want Birth Companions to be a safe and supportive organisation for Black and Asian women, and women from all other groups who experience racism, to work, volunteer or be supported in.
We recognise that our commitment needs to be rooted in action within our organisation and in our external activities. This work requires a continual process of active learning and improvement.
This is a working document which represents not just a public statement of intent, but a point of reference to which we will return regularly, in order to hold ourselves accountable and continue to prioritise this work.
At Birth Companions we:
- Recognise that structural, institutional and interpersonal racism negatively impacts the experiences and outcomes of Black and Asian women, and those of women from all other groups who experience racism;
- Acknowledge experiences of racism, both overt and subtle, as a form of trauma. We are working to reflect and address this in our organisation’s trauma-informed approach, policy and procedures;
- Are committed to using our position as experts working with women experiencing multiple disadvantage during pregnancy and early motherhood to challenge policies and systems that perpetuate structural and institutional racism. In particular, though not exclusively, we are committed to doing this within the context of the maternity, criminal justice, social services and immigration systems in which our work is primarily located;
- Aim to amplify the voices of Black and Asian women, and of women from all other groups who experience racism, through the work of our Lived Experience Team;
- Actively support the work of organisations led by and for Black and Asian women, and women from all other groups who experience racism;
- Review our internal policies, practice and training regularly to ensure that our organisational practices reflect our position as an anti-racist organisation;
- Support our staff and volunteers to develop a better understanding of racism and cultural competency through regular training and discussion;
- Challenge language or behaviour that may be construed as racist, or discriminatory, whether intentional or otherwise;
- Ensure that all reports of racist behaviour are taken seriously and dealt with appropriately;
- Engage experts to help us ensure we are following best practice.
We know that change doesn’t happen without action. This year Birth Companions has:
- Committed £3,000 in 2020/21 to anti-racist and cultural competency learning and training, and will invest further in coming years;
- Run anti-racism training for our staff team;
- Updated our Code of Conduct and meeting ground rules to clarify our expectations for the use of culturally appropriate language and behaviour;
- Reviewed our recruitment practices to ensure they are non-discriminatory and protect all candidates from unconscious bias through:
- Ensuring staff are trained to understand and carry out best practice in selection and interview processes using our standardised scoring on all aspects of selection;
- Anonymised shortlisting;
- Reviewing the language used on adverts and recruitment to ensure that candidates from ethnic minorities are attracted to our roles;
- Using new channels to ensure that our job adverts and recruitment reaches as wide and as diverse audience as possible;
- The use of positive action to improve the diversity of our staff and volunteer team.
- Reviewed practice and procedures to ensure we are a psychologically safe working environment for staff and volunteers who are Black, Asian, or from other groups who experience racism. These comprise:
- The creation of clear processes to ensure that staff and volunteers feel safe and comfortable reporting racist behaviour;
- The appointment of a trustee to act as a first point of contact where reporting such behaviours to white colleagues or line managers may be difficult or trigger previous trauma;
- Specialist therapeutic support and reflective practice for Black and Asian staff/volunteers, or those from other groups who experience racism, who may find witnessing, hearing about or experiencing racism in the course of their work particularly triggering.
In the next six months, Birth Companions will:
- Create an anti-racist working group made up of trustees, staff, volunteers and women from our lived experience team to meet regularly to lead our anti-racism work;
- Review our terminology and use of language across internal documents, our website, external document and social media;
- Run organisation-wide training to ensure awareness and understanding of racism and cultural competency, and to encourage conversation and dialogue;
- Develop the resources section of our website, to include resources on health inequalities and structural racism within healthcare systems, to help contribute to wider learning;
- Use our social media accounts to highlight the work of anti-racist educators and activists, particularly in the areas of health inequalities and criminal justice.