The subject of EDI is very much at the forefront of our thinking at the moment. We’re taking our cue from the Charity Governance Code. The Code outlines in its guidance that charities should have a ‘Clear, agreed, effective approach to EDI’. Furthermore that it is important that ‘the Board’s approach to diversity supports its effectiveness, leadership and decision-making’.
The Governance Code outlines a clear set of actions that can be taken on your EDI journey. This covers all the multivarious elements that fall within this definition. We have been developing our culture and resources in line with this advice. A genuine desire to promote a culture of inclusivity needs to be at the heart of any steps in this path; to have a fundamental belief that EDI is important, just because it is.
By an interesting coincidence, we have featured Johaar Mosaval in our newsletter this month. He was an outstanding contributor to the world of Ballet, not only as a Ballet dancer, but also for many years a ballet teacher, after returning to Cape Town to set up a Ballet school.
When we were informed of the death of Johaar, it was of course a feeling of initial sadness. My next thought was how lucky it was that I had been the conduit for phone contact between the writer Sarah Coombes in the UK with Johaar in South Africa, at the end of 2022. The book coming out in 2026 will celebrate 100 years of the Royal Ballet School. Hopefully it will focus on his memories of dancing in the roles that he performed. Johaar had grace in every sense.
Among the many tributes, Birmingham Royal Ballet ran this one about him. The video they showed was a great way to remember this wonderful dancer, as well as something of his character and personality.
It is striking however, that all of the obituaries lead with the fact of his colour above anything else. While this makes sense, let us fast forward to a world where this simply would not be logical as the focus. Where it is no more worthy of comment than their (ballet) shoe size.
Take this headline from The Guardian; ‘The first dancer of colour to join the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet whose ballet school in Cape Town was closed in the 1970s as he refused to operate under apartheid rules’.
Interestingly, The Guardian was one of many newspapers that then ran a piece following a Rugby World Cup incident during the South Africa and England Semi Final, as Mbongeni Mbonambi, a South African Rugby player, allegedly expressed a racial slur to a white player. World Rugby was quick to say, “World Rugby takes all allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously,”. Although the facts in this case are unclear, taking any incident seriously is of paramount importance.
We are committed to embedding EDI across the organisation. But we know that it is an ongoing process. Finding out as much as you can from EDI specialists can help you with this. Better still, work on EDI with others. I am a Founder member of the Association of Charitable Organisations EDI Working Group. This group aims to share best practice for the benevolence sector.
Please follow the link to see what we are doing which we want to share with everyone, especially during Black History Month, one of the main EDI events of the year.