For National Inclusion Week: The Power of Now this year, Rachel caught up with Donna Murray Turner to see how she was finding her new role, and to ask for her thoughts around the current state of play in the EDI landscape.

Donna has very recently started a new role as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lead for the VCFS (Voluntary, Community & Faith Sector) in Surrey.

This pioneering role has been created and funded by Surrey County Council to drive the EDI initiatives and contribute to system-wide improvements across the county, which will help to deliver the 2030 Vision for Surrey.

#ThePowerofNow is a compelling strapline – what does this mean to you personally and in your new role?

The Power of Now says to me that it is my role to give the EDI agenda for Surrey’s Charity and Faith groups a massive shake up, to influence a sustainable change in outlook and delivery of service across the County.

The Power of Now indicates we’re at a slight tipping point where there is a degree of momentum and understanding that EDI should become habitual rather than additional. What are the things you’d want to encourage the VCFS in Surrey to consider/do to create good habits around this agenda.

There was a rush of dialogue and emotion right after the public murder of George Floyd, which proved to be the catalyst needed to jump start the much defunct at the time EDI global agenda.

Organisations went to great lengths to create spaces where staff shared their feelings about their race, and other marginalised identity characteristics. This process almost became habitual, intrinsic to how that workplace saw itself and how it supported its staff around difference.

And then… silence, because it made people feel guilty, especially conversations around racial biases.

Suddenly, people did not want to really listen to other people’s testimonies about how they had been treated, what it was like for them to work where they felt some resistance to their protected characteristic. That made people feel uncomfortable, they felt guilt for their ignorance and implicit biases. They retreated from the thing that made them feel pain. And they have been retreating ever since, because the experience was too uncomfortable for them to continue to reflect and learn from what was shared.

In my role as the EDI Lead for the VCFS in Surrey, I intend to make us all comfortable with discomfort. Without it there can be no growth, no real commitment to diversity and inclusion. Without it, we are paying lip service to understanding and learning from individuals who are different from ourselves.

What do you think are the main challenges for organisations with regards to becoming truly inclusive?

I would say that organisational heads must ask themselves if their interest in the EDI agenda is genuine, or is it a tick box exercise? The opportunity to change is now, and staff members who possess marginalised identities want to see change and have the right not to feel excluded at their place of work.

Are managers and directors really prepared to be made uncomfortable to truly benefit from what wider inclusion can bring to a workplace?

In 2017, the McKinsey Report said that a more gender diverse workforce will outperform its closest rival by 15%, and a more ethnically diverse workforce by 35%, so it makes good business sense to take the EDI agenda seriously. The challenge for organisational heads is to decide what matters more – good business, or the challenge to overcome discomfort around harmful in-house practices and biases? Only they can decide.

In my role as the EDI Lead for the VCFS in Surrey, I intend to make us all comfortable with discomfort. Without it there can be no growth, no real commitment to diversity and inclusion. Without it, we are paying lip service to understanding and learning from individuals who are different from ourselves.


We would like to say a huge thank you to Donna Murray Turner for taking the time to sit down to share her experience and insights on the current EDI landscape with us. Why not connect with Donna on Linkedin.


 

Rachel Davies is our consultant, specialising in recruiting for the not-for-profit sector. With a successful portfolio career as a Performance Lifestyle Adviser, Head of Careers and more recently, a thriving swimming business owner, Rachel took the plunge into Peridot Partners and has never looked back. Combining her wealth of experience with her passion for recruiting good people for good causes, Rachel is set on you achieving gold in your NFP and third sector organisation recruitment search. You can connect with Rachel on Linkedin or why not send her an email.