Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion are central to Refuge's work and are reflected in our service provision, diverse workforce and in the way we work.

At Refuge we will aim to:

  • Promote Equality
  • Encourage Belonging
  • Facilitate Equity
  • Celebrate Diversity
  • Embed Inclusion

As a charity we are committed to a world where domestic abuse and violence against women and girls is not tolerated, and where women and children can live in safety. Furthermore, we are committed to promoting equality by creating better experiences for women and girls because we understand that for some survivors, their experiences of abuse intersect with experiences of racism, homophobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression, making escape from abuse even more complex. Therefore, equality, diversity, and inclusion are central to our core principles and are reflected in our service provision, diverse workforce and in the way in which we work.

We are committed to respecting and treating everyone fairly, eliminating discrimination and actively promoting inclusion. We will ensure that we continue to learn together and will provide a variety of training opportunities for staff to help them understand the additional challenges faced by people from marginalised groups. Furthermore, we will actively encourage everyone to take responsibility for equality, diversity and inclusion by becoming active allies. Only by taking this stance can we challenge the inequalities within society.

We will continue to commit to:

  • A recruitment process that is fair, accessible, transparent, and accountable.
  • Providing opportunities for amplification of survivors’ voices
  • Ensuring that the families that depend on us have accessible and barrier-free services. Acknowledging the complexities of intersectionality, including differences in peoples backgrounds and life circumstances and how these may impact accessing our services.
  • Fostering a diverse workplace with a culture of inclusion, respect, and empathy.
  • Continuing to facilitate open forums for staff on EDI matters.
  • Continuing to support Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (un.org).

Our commitment to Anti-Racism

At Refuge it is our responsibility to ensure that every voice matters, and our staff, volunteers and service users feel seen and heard. We recognise that racism is entrenched in our society and that the people we support, and our staff and volunteers can be deeply affected by racism. Structural racism exists in the very institutions which are supposed to protect women and girls.

Therefore, we are committed to being an anti-racist organisation and have signed up to the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWG) Anti-Racism Charter. We understand that we have a responsibility as an employer and service provider to challenge racism and discrimination within our workforce and beyond. We will learn from our staff, volunteers, service users and ‘by and for’ partners and organisations to ensure we address these issues. We want our organisation to be a safe space for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people to feel supported, and able to achieve their goals and ambitions.

Our Vision for Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EEDI)

In 2021 we established an EDI steering group to help us to embed an environment where everyone is valued, equality and inclusion are at the heart of all our activities, and discrimination is challenged. In addition, seven equality network groups (ENGs) were created to provide staff with a supportive and safe environment to share lived experiences. In addition, these groups which are managed by staff and supported by the EDI Advisor, organise a number of events across the year to celebrate key inclusion dates and to encourage a deeper level of awareness and allyship.

Furthermore, the chairs of these groups are members of the EDI steering group, ensuring staff from marginalised and minoritized groups contribute to holding us accountable for our commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

These groups are:

The Allies Equality Network Group are working together to understand what it means to be an effective ally and encourage colleagues to also become active allies through the sharing of resources and via different opportunities for learning.

The Anti-Racism Equality Network Group aims to provide direction around equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives and provide a safe environment for staff from specific cultural groups to voice lived experiences with a view to effect change and understanding.

Disability and Neurodiversity Matters
The Disability and Neurodiversity Matters Equality Network Group welcomes staff and volunteers who identify as having a neurodiversity and/or a visible or invisible disability. The aim of the group is to celebrate disability and neurodiversity and be a safe and confidential space, that’s also concerned with improving the employee experience at Refuge.

The Families Equality Network Group comes together to provide a supportive and compassionate environment for staff and volunteers who are parents and carers. We ensure that any changes to policies and procedures consider the impact on parents and/or individuals with caring responsibilities.

The LGBTIQ+ Shine Equality Network Group is a safe and supportive space for staff and volunteers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer-plus. The group aims to promote an intersectional approach to LGBTIQ+ diversity and inclusion, amplify the voices of LGBTIQ+ people’s lived experiences to effect change and increase understanding within Refuge and the wider community.

Mental Health and Wellbeing
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Equality Network Group aims to create a safe, non-judgmental space where people feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly about mental health and wellbeing. To raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing and endeavour to remove the stigma and misconceptions that can surround mental health and wellbeing challenges.

The Women’s Equality Networking Group aims to consider how we support the women who support women, women’s health issues and consider areas for career and personal development.

Respect, Inclusion and Belonging (RIB) Strategy 2022-26 Executive Summary

Respect, inclusion, and belonging are fundamental to what we want to achieve at Refuge. We aim to build a culture where our staff, volunteers, trustees, service users, survivors, partners, and all who work with or alongside us are valued and respected.

As an intersectional feminist organisation committed to challenging inequality across society; equality, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EEDI) are essential priorities that remain at the forefront of our journey.

Our EEDI vision is… a community of kind and empathetic people who bond around shared values, feel respected, and have a voice in decisions that affect them.

Our EEDI mission is… we aim to create an equitable culture that attracts, retains, and develops staff to empower them to create a safe and inclusive environment to support women and girls in transforming their lives.

Our RIB strategy will ensure we maintain a diverse team of incredible people and an inclusive culture that celebrates diversity and understands intersectionality. Furthermore, we will aim to have a workplace of allies where racism and discrimination are challenged through robust policies, procedures, and training.

Our EEDI Strategic Priorities

Five strategic priorities will support the vision and mission, underpinned by a set of principles that will help us achieve our goals. Our strategic priorities are:

  1. Maximize opportunities to attract, develop, support, and retain diverse representation across the organisation – staff, volunteers, and Board members.
  2. Develop and embed an inclusive culture within the organisation to ensure all staff and volunteers have a work environment in which they feel safe and can be their authentic selves.
  3. Centring service users and survivors at the heart of their services to ensure that their voices are listened to and heard, and ensuring we provide an inclusive and supportive service for all.
  4. Embed EEDI beyond the workforce – through procurement, funding, and influence, ensure more of our partner organisations, suppliers, and funders have inclusion as a core value.
  5. Develop existing partnerships with ‘by and for’ organisations and create new partnerships to ensure support in the VAWG sector is diverse and inclusive.

We have created a Respect, Inclusion and Belonging action plan to support the delivery of the RIB Strategy. The plan has identified steps we can commit to taking to become a more equitable workplace and providing a more inclusive service. The actions support the five strategic priorities and focus on looking inwards at our staff, volunteers, and Board, looking towards our service users, and looking outwards beyond our workforce. By documenting these actions and outcomes we will keep ourselves accountable.

Governance & Accountability

The strategy and supporting action plan were shaped by our team. They are owned by the Board and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) who will review them annually. SLT, supported by the EDI Steering Group and the Senior Management Team, reporting to the Board, are responsible for monitoring progress, identifying yearly success criteria, and for agreeing significant changes or additions to the plan. Both the strategy and action plan are ‘living documents’ with aspirational aims.

They are documents that are aimed at providing us a framework for how we progress our EEDI journey at Refuge. Some of the actions will need to be tested to see if they are the right actions for us. Some actions may evolve, change, or develop over time, which will allow us to reflect and adapt based on the learning we accomplish over the life of the strategy. This approach will allow us to respond to the needs of our staff, volunteers, and service users.

Respect Charter and Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EEDI) Pledge

To support our Respect, Inclusion and Belonging strategy, the Respect Charter and Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EEDI) Pledge have been created to compliment our values to support our EEDI journey in creating an inclusive and respectful environment both within Refuge and beyond.

Gender Pay Gap

This report is published, as part of our statutory obligation to report on any gender pay gap within Refuge. Additionally, as part of our ongoing commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, this report also includes data on our ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

Due to the nature of Refuge’s services, it only employed a small proportion of men making up 2.84% (13 out of 458) of the workforce as at 5 April 2023 (3.69%, 15 of out 406 in 2022.

As Refuge also operates a genuine occupational qualification for all our front-line roles which requires these roles to be filled by women only. Refuge’s demographic of women employees will continue to be substantially higher than men employees.

Refuge as a feminist organisation is committed to challenging inequality across society. Therefore, in addition to providing an annual gender pay gap report we have decided to incorporate ethnicity and disability pay gap reports within this report.