An Interview with Anne Mwangi, a delegate from the Tackling Racism in Organisations masterclass

Anne Mwangi is Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Joseph Rowntree Foundation/Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust. She has recently participated in WIG’s masterclass ‘Tackling Racism in Organisations’ and has kindly shared her impressions with us.

Why did you think it was important to sign up for WIG’s Tackling Racism in Organisations masterclass?

Race is an important priority in my organisation and as a D&I leader, I was very interested to see what this course has to offer and whether it is one I can recommend to our managers.

Have the events of this year (BLM movement for example) changed the way your organisation looks at diversity and inclusion? How?

Yes, like many other organisations, the BLM movement has put a focus on race issues and highlighted how much organisations have neglected this issue in the past. Within my organisation we had already started working on race issues and set up a BAME staff network in 2019. We had already identified issues that we’d like the organisation to address. However, BLM has put this issue as a high priority within our leadership team and we are evaluating how we address race issues both internally and also externally in the work we do with partners to highlight and address poverty issues. We recognise the importance of shining an intersectional lens in the work we do as poverty impacts more significantly on some communities than others. A good example is the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on people from African, Caribbean and Asian heritage.

Have you implemented any of your learnings from the Tackling Racism in Organisations masterclass into your organisation? If so, could you share them?

We have shared learning from the course by starting conversations with management teams using the video illustrating how systemic racism manifests itself in society to disadvantage particular groups of people. Separate from the course, our BAME staff network facilitated a workshop on race, where we started exploring the concepts of what it means to be an anti-racist organisation, systemic racism and white privilege.  

What have you personally gained from this masterclass?

I was already aware of most of the materials and information shared at the course. However, the course offered me an opportunity to explore some of the issues further with the trainer and other attendees. As the Head of EDI, it was also really useful for me to attend this course with three Directors from my organisations as it helps us to have a common understanding of fundamental concepts about racism and how it is manifested by society, organisations and individuals, and how we can all play a part in dismantling it. This will help us work together to take this issue forward within the organisation.

What did the cross-sector learning approach help you uncover about Diversity & Inclusion challenges from other sectors?
I think it is fair to say that most organisation are just starting to do this work. I was reassured that we’ve actually done more than a lot of organisations, but also recognise we have a lot to do to be a truly anti-racist organisation and we are in the process of developing a Race action plan.

Find out more about joining our next Tackling Racism in Organisations masterclass in January. 

Read more about what you can expect from the masterclass, from our interview with Raafi Alidina from Frost Included, the course facilitator.