As an international development organisation founded in the Global North, Orchid Project works in a context historically rooted in unequal power structures such as neo-colonialism and white saviorism. Inequitable power structures still exist within, and can be perpetuated by, the development sector, as well as racist and dehumanising tropes around black, indigenous, and people of colour.
Female genital cutting primarily affects women and girls of colour, and their communities, who may also experience multiple forms of discrimination and oppression. This is in the context of Orchid as a charity in the development sector working on an issue that primarily affects girls and women of colour. We are also considering anti-racism in our role as an employer.
Within this context we are committed to continually learning, and working in anti-racist ways to end FGC that do not perpetuate racism; non-judgmentally and in partnership with communities affected by FGC. We aim to shift power to affected communities, and are committed to ensuring that our organisational aims and values support this.
This is a “living document”; and we look to continuously improve our understanding and commitments to becoming an actively anti-racist organisation as we go. Our priorities over the next 12 months, and beyond, are as follows.
- Hire a qualified anti-racism expert to review and assess whether Orchid Project’s work environment is welcoming to recruit and retain black, indigenous and people of colour in our staff team. This will include, but is not limited to, reviewing & advising on:
- organisational culture
- language use and communications
- processes, policies and practices
- steps to make recruitment more accessible to FGC-affected communities, black, indigenous, and people of colour, and Global South applicants
- unconscious bias
- and any other areas for improvement
- Begin implementation of appropriate recommendations of qualified anti-racism expert
- Hold unconscious bias training (or similar) with an explicit focus on racism for the staff team, board safeguarding lead, and strongly suggest the board also take training
- Support access to safe spaces for colleagues who are black, indigenous and people of colour, i.e. access to networks and support groups. Informed by wellbeing work, and contributed to by a number of the other actions, i.e. reporting processes, unconscious bias training.
- Set targets for increasing applications from and recruiting staff who are black, indigenous, and people of colour, and report on these transparently and externally, including to the Board
- Implement a dedicated reporting mechanism for racist incidents to include anonymous reporting and guarantees of non-reprisals for all members of staff to safely report racist incidents without fear of repercussions
- Recruit team members and consultants from the Global South and diaspora, with a focus on our priority countries and most-affected peoples
- Produce an induction pack and process that includes safeguarding and unconscious bias training and information, with a specific focus on anti-racism.
Anti-racism: “Anti-racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.” – NAC International Perspectives: Women and Global Solidarity
Diversity, equality and inclusion: Equality refers to the right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment. Valuing diversity means that we recognize and respect everyone’s unique qualities and attributes. Inclusion means that all individuals feel respected, accepted and valued.
Black Lives Matter movement: “mission to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives” (www.blacklivesmatter.com)
Most affected peoples: People most affected by the issue we are working on. In Orchid Project’s case, female genital cutting.
Neo-colonialism: The practice of using economics, globalisation, cultural imperialism, and conditional aid to influence a country
Power structures: the way in which power or authority is distributed between people within groups such as a government, nation, institution, organization, or a society
White Saviour: a white person who provides help to non-white people in a self-serving manner. White people going in to “fix” the problems of struggling nations or people of color without understanding their history, needs, or the region’s current state of affairs
Black, indigenous and other people of colour: someone from a black or indigenous community, and/or who considers themselves a person of colour. This is in recognition of the racism and discrimination these groups face in a white-dominant culture.