British Red Cross ‘Too White’, Chief Exec Calls Words ‘British’ and ‘Cross’ a ‘Challenge’

AP Photo/Alastair Grant

British Red Cross chief Mike Adamson has claimed the charity struggled to deal with the Grenfell disaster because staff and volunteers are too white.

“There is a risk that in a very diverse community like Grenfell, an organisation with the words ‘British’ and ‘Cross’ in its title is confused with a Christian establishment organisation,” he wrote, in a blog for the New Philanthropy Capital think tank.

Though stating that the charity is “completely impartial” in its work, Adamson added: “There is no escaping the fact that with shining exceptions, such as our refugee services, we are nowhere near as diverse as we need to be in our volunteer base, our staffing or our leadership.”

Announcing that he is “personally leading” the charity’s “inclusion and diversity strategy”, Adamson said the British Red Cross is “changing massively to be relevant to the world of today and tomorrow.”

He was slammed by commenters at the Times website — which reported Adamson a having “admitted the charity struggled with the Grenfell disaster because its workforce is too white” — for “apologising for [the British Red Cross’] very existence, its name and not being ‘diverse’ enough.”

“Call in the Red Crescent, if that is of the correct ethnicity,” wrote one user, adding: “What’s truly pathetic is the self-hate and desperate apologies for not being ‘relevant’ enough.”

On Tuesday, a blog post on the Third Sector website lamented that Britain needs “prompt action on diversity in fundraising”, arguing that the industry needs a significant culture change to attract more black and minority ethnic (BAME/BME) people to its workforce.

In the post, author Hayley Gullen  — a senior trusts fundraising manager  — reported a number of different “barriers” to ethnic minorities in pursuing fundraising careers , which include charity having “negative connotations”, the field being perceived as low prestige in migrant communities, and other cultures lacking the concept of charity.

A Guardian article similarly bemoaning the fact that Britain’s publishing industry “remains 90 per cent white” was attacked by readers who pointed out that  — with the UK around 86 per cent white  — the figure was broadly representative.

In comments below the piece, readers also questioned why the Guardian made ethnicity its focus when reporting on the alleged lack of diversity in the industry, when the article states that 85 per cent of people working in UK publishing are female.

“Where is the Guardian’s alarm at that statistic?”, wrote one user, calling the gender gap “a far bigger disparity than a marginal overrepresentation of white people in what is a very middle-class profession.”

The post added: “Having an industry so vital to public knowledge and education utterly dominated by one gender can’t possibly be good for society, can it?”

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