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African charities ‘should employ more black people’

INSIGHT: Critics have said NGOs would benefit from a more diverse workforce

BRITAIN’S ARMY of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been found wanting as campaigners accuse them of being ineffective in promoting and employing ethnic minorities.

This follows a review by Dame Mary Marsh into skills and leadership in the voluntary sector, which found an “appalling” lack of diversity in the charity profession.

Campaigner Nicholas Milton, writing in The Guardian, said: “The sector has…failed to engage with black and minority ethnic (BME) communities in Britain, despite many having strong links with the countries the charities are operating in.” 

Marsh, founding director of the Clore social leadership programme, told The Independent that the lack of diversity means that the system has “not been open to all” and “too many white, middle-class people (are) going into charities because they know their way around the system”.

She added: “It is a big issue for us. We are missing the talent that we should have. Look at the BME profile of the sector – it’s appalling. We have very, very few people from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds in our senior leadership. And I’m sure all these things are reflected throughout the charity.”

Kenyan-born Paralympian, Anne Strike MBE, whose charity The Olympia Wafula Foundation operates in Africa, said it makes sense for African charities, based in the UK, to engage with the diaspora.

She told The Voice: “In many of these big NGOs the top jobs are occupied by white people, earning lots of money.

“Employing and partnering with people from minority communities can give charities an insight into what the real issues are in the countries they want to help. It also helps them to make valuable links so they can do more with donations.”

She added: “You need the information and I believe that sometimes NGOs fail to make an impact because they do not understand what the problems are or have any meaningful connections with the people they want to help.” 

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