We know that for everyone this past year has been an exceptionally challenging one; both in the workplace with increased pressures, and also balancing care for ourselves, family and friends. And the Plunkett team are no exception to this – I am incredibly proud of our team and the resilience they have shown during these tough times, and their unwavering commitment to the communities they support every day. We also know that in order to bring together the range of skills and expertise needed to benefit the rural community business sector, we need to build a team that is not only happy and proud of the work they do each day, but that we are actively creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.

This is why we worked alongside Power to Change, Co-operatives UK and Locality last year, to commission a review and staff survey to better understand the challenges and barriers that may be inhibiting us from being as diverse, equitable and inclusive as we could possibly be. This research was completed last year by industry experts and was presented to all four organisations with a set of recommendations. It has since been our priority to listen and to start implementing a number of these recommendations.

First and foremost we have created an internal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group (DEI WG) to review and comment upon all aspects of DEI in Plunkett. The working group guides on how best to specifically raise awareness of this important issue to our staff and supporters, as well as how we can work more closely with the wider rural communities in which we serve.  The group’s brief specifically extends to influencing our organisation’s policy asks and advising on the design and implementation of new recruitment processes and the accessibility of our communications and allocations of support. We are proud to have been in a position to recruit new roles in recent months which has given us the opportunity to embed a number of these new recommendations.

We are grateful for the opportunity to have started this journey with our close partners Power to Change, Co-operatives UK and Locality and we will continue to share best practice and support between us, to guide real change within the sector.

We know that diversity, equity and inclusion is also high on the agenda of the many community businesses we support and along with regular updates from us, we will of course be looking to work more closely with our members in order to provide the network with the relevant help and guidance. If you have any thoughts and suggestions on this incredibly important area of work, we invite you to get in touch with us directly through info@plunkett.co.uk

James Alcock, Chief Executive, Plunkett Foundation