Becoming an anti-racist organisation: progress update June 2022


Peter Alleyne, Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Race Equality, and Nisa Chisipochinyi, Head of Equity and Racial Justice, explain where we are in our mission to become an anti-racist organisation.

Two years ago, international protest at the murder of George Floyd was a catalyst for Rethink Mental Illness to confront its own shortcomings on race equality and being anti-racist. The charity commissioned an independent review by Oxytocin-Learning to look at our progress in becoming an anti-racist employer, campaigning organisation and service provider. The results were both uncomfortable and clear. Over the years the charity simply hadn’t done enough to make itself as fair and equitable as it should be.

The charity is responding to the recommendations in the Oxytocin report with clarity and action. Our roles were created, and we both joined Rethink Mental Illness earlier this year with a remit to develop and deliver a powerful programme of work on race equality. Two of the first things we have been tasked with are developing the Rethink Mental Illness anti-racism statement and a comprehensive Race Equality Action Plan. These are important, milestone documents. All staff need to consider what active steps we can take to help the charity become a truly anti-racist organisation.

Anti-racism statement
At Rethink Mental Illness we want anti-racism to be part of our DNA. Anti-racism is not just about being not racist, it’s about being actively anti-racist and taking steps to address racism and promote racial equality. The statement sets out our commitment to becoming anti-racist both as an employer, campaigning organisation and service provider, and to influence policy and the wider social factors that impact the mental health of racialised communities. The statement is published both internally and externally, as we want to be held accountable for our progress on becoming a truly anti-racist organisation.

Race Equality Action Plan
The Race Equality Action Plan sets out the short, medium, and long-term activities that will support our commitment to becoming a truly anti-racist employer, campaigning organisation and service provider. The action plan is robust, evidence-led and is designed to deliver on the recommendations from the Oxytocin-Learning independent review and the recommendations from our internal employee Pledge Groups. We hope it shows that the charity means business on delivering race equality (and you’ll see some of the short-term actions have already been completed.)

There are three workstreams:

  1. Through leadership, governance, and accountability we will embed strategic oversight and implementation of our Race Equality Acton Plan.

  2. We will be an anti-racist employer where our workplace practices will enable our ethnically diverse colleagues to thrive and progress as valued employees.

  3. We will be an anti-racist service provider that knows its minoritised service users so that we can provide them with the optimal support and service where and when it is needed.

The plan includes lots of great new initiatives, for example:

  • We’ll be launching a mutual mentoring programme to help increase understanding of the lived experience of our minority ethnic colleagues amongst our senior leaders.
  • We will launch a new staff network to support our minority ethnic colleagues.
  • We will engage with internal leads who are already building local partnerships with diverse community organisations, to establish and embed good practice throughout our service-delivery.
  • We will choose a specific influencing objective to advocate for racial equity and justice around mental health.

So, as you can see, there’s plenty for us all to be getting on with. But we will get there!