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Our commitment to antiracism where we are now and what happens next

Our commitment to anti-racism: where we are now and what happens next

CEO Rose Caldwell on self-reflection, accountability and collective action.

It’s been over a year since Plan International UK began the work of becoming an anti-racist organisation. 

Our journey has been a response to the urgent call for action arising from the Black Lives Matter movement and a recognition of our responsibilities as an organisation and an employer. It also reflects a deep understanding that being actively anti-racist is essential to, and inextricably interwoven with, our reason for being here: to protect children's rights and to gain equality for girls. 

Our approach has been guided by colleagues from across the Plan International family, without whom this work would not have been possible.  

With their support, we’ve made a collective commitment to listening, to learning and unlearning, and to pausing in self-reflection. We’ve also held ourselves accountable in defining the action we need to take to become an anti-racist organisation, now and in the future. 

Central to this has been the recognition that structural and systemic racism exists across society and in the UK, and that as an organisation we are not separate or immune to this oppression and discrimination.  

It is only through an active approach to anti-racism and equity, in our culture, practices and behaviours, that we can take meaningful steps towards change – for our colleagues and partners in the UK and globally, and the communities we work with around the world.  

Our vision for change 

It’s important that we are clear and transparent when we say, racism is a human rights violation and has no place at Plan International UK.  

Our vision is to be an organisation where all individuals in all their diversity, including their racial and ethnic identity, feel safe, respected, included and valued.  

To embody our vision, we understand the need to embed a clear and meaningful Anti-Racism Action Plan that focuses on how we change our organisation, on an individual and a collective level.  

This action plan is currently underway, with an accompanying commitment that we will monitor our progress and be open and responsive to adapting our approach as needed, to achieve significant change by July 2023. 

Our Anti-Racism Action Plan includes: 

  • Working with our colleagues globally, our national and local partners, and the communities we work with – including young people, children and especially girls – to ensure our work together is anti-racist, upholds mutual respect, is rights-based and seeks to dismantle power and privilege. 
  • Truly embedding and authentically modelling our values in our programming, to create an anti-racist and inclusive culture that reflects the change we want to see.
  • Adopting new language guidelines and embedding anti-racism principles to guide our work with young people.  
  • Reviewing our communications, in collaboration with external experts, to understand how we can share stories in-line with our anti-racism commitments and without perpetuating white saviour narratives.  
  • Identifying practical, policy and strategy changes to ensure we’re taking an anti-racist and decolonising approach in our policy and advocacy.  
  • Working with our corporate partners to share our guidelines, and support and review their own robust anti-racism policies. 
  • Improving our recruitment processes, to make sure the way we recruit people is free from bias and anti-racist. 
  • Increasing confidence amongst all staff to have conversations about racism, and to challenge and address behaviours or practices that don’t align with our anti-racist values.   
  • Upskilling our staff, so they can confidently handle complaints relating to racism and micro-aggressions.  
  • Supporting our leaders and board members to continuously learn and reflect on how the organisation will address institutional racism, and to uphold and realise our stance on anti-racism.  

Alongside other colleagues, I am also representing Plan International UK as part of Pledge for Change, a project that aims to re-imagine the role of international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) and to collaborate on concrete and significant steps towards decolonisation in our sector. 

A call to collective action  

Reflecting on our progress so far, it’s important to recognise that we still have a long way to go – and that the process of holding ourselves accountable to our Anti-Racism Action Plan is an ongoing commitment.  

This is especially true for me and the wider Leadership Team, in terms of the influence and power we hold to shape how the organisation challenges racism. 

Moving forwards, we will continue to embed self-reflection on our thoughts, behaviours and attitudes at an individual and a collective level, encouraging a deep understanding of how power, privilege and bias operate within our work. 

We’ll listen to each other, share our experiences, learn from one another and continually challenge ourselves and the organisation, to ensure the cultural and behavioural change we achieve is deep, long-term and sustainable. 

By taking leadership responsibility alongside collective action in this way, our hope is that no individual, irrespective of their identity, will ever feel unsafe, excluded, or disrespected in engaging or working with us, or Plan International UK.