Charity: Diversity, equity and inclusion

Charity insight: driving greater diversity, equity and inclusion

People with different life experiences help you better understand the needs of those you serve.

At Barclays, we’re committed to continuing to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. We believe that when we make our organisation inclusive and equitable, we can make the most of the different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences of our colleagues and better serve our customers and clients.

Nazreen Visram

Head of Charities, Barclays Corporate Banking

Article 4: Diversity, equity and inclusion

This is the last in a four-part series of charity insights in which we share our thoughts and those of guest speakers at our 11th National Charities Day on strategies for confronting the many challenges facing the sector.

Looking for unity

A better understanding of the needs of the people they serve are among the clear benefits for charities that continue to make progress in improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in their organisations.

The ability of an organisation to draw on different life experiences among employees has been shown to foster innovation and enhance an organisation’s ability to deliver on its purpose. However, there is clearly still lots of work to be done to tackle bias in recruitment and in nurturing diverse talent.

We need to see others, accept others, enable others and empower them.

Kai Adams

Managing Partner at global talent advisory firm Green Park

Building the right culture

Creating a culture of values and behaviours that means everyone in your organisation has equal opportunities and a genuine sense of belonging is the bedrock for improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I).

Lornette Pemberton, Director of People & Culture at Refuge, says: “To me, culture is simply what it feels like to work within an organisation, and for us that means an environment that is open, transparent and where people are respected and valued.”

Lornette believes the key challenge is for a charity to translate a vision of the culture it is trying to create into reality through its policies, the way it communicates and the way it delivers its services. “We need to engage with people and give them the opportunity to shape the things that matter to them.”

Nurturing diverse talent

Ryan Makuku, co-chair of Inspire UK, Barclays’ social mobility employee resource group, believes a three-tier “getting in and getting on” approach is needed to nurture diverse talent in the sector.

Sourcing talent


First, widen the scope of the charity’s recruitment. If, for example, the search for younger talent is limited to graduates, look for candidates from, say, further education, and also consider apprenticeship schemes or school leavers.


Once talent is in the organisation, is there opportunity for that talent to progress? Make sure people from diverse backgrounds feel included, welcome and get the chance to take on work that will help them progress in their careers.


Finally, there's the leadership of your organisation – probably the toughest challenge. Where support for career progression of diverse talent extends to the most senior roles, a charity’s leaders are likely to be more reflective of both its workforce and the communities it serves.

Steps to consider

Setting the tone from the top

There’s growing demand for leaders at charitable organisations to set the tone in terms of DE&I behaviours and policies.

Lornette Pemberton at Refuge believes it’s vitally important that those in the most senior roles demonstrate their commitment to DE&I through the way they behave but also in the way the charity delivers its services. The goal, she says, is for everyone working for the organisation to feel they are respected and valued as an individual regardless of who they are.

She adds: “We've got to educate our colleagues, be willing to learn and do things differently and ensure inclusive language is used from the top of the organisation downwards.”

Communicating inclusively

The value of inclusive communication has been particularly underlined by the challenges of hybrid working, which has prompted many organisations to adapt their messaging to engage staff operating from home as well as those at the office.

Lornette Pemberton from Refuge believes communication aimed at diverse audiences is really important: “We’re all different but we’re all aligned to a common purpose and the way we communicate should reinforce that.”

So long as what a charity says is mirrored by its actions, she says, diverse communication is one of the factors that helps to demonstrate a culture with respect for all and makes an organisation more attractive to a wider range of prospective employees.

Setting the right objectives

Publicly setting and committing to DE&I objectives and targets can be a very effective driver of change and provides the vital benchmarks by which a charity, and its stakeholders, can monitor its progress.

Hold discussions internally with colleagues at every level to help shape those targets but remember it’s important, says Kai Adams, Managing Partner at global talent advisory firm Green Park, to be clear about the point of these goals, their end purpose.

One measure that Refuge, for example, employs is ensuring a level of diversity within its management team that’s representative of the rest of the charity’s workforce. “It’s an objective which helps to create a situation where all our people have an opportunity to move up within the organisation and achieve managerial positions.”

Learning from others

Barclays, among many other large businesses, has learned some valuable lessons through its efforts to promote DE&I over many years now – lessons that we are delighted to share with other organisations.

Inspire UK, Barclays’ social mobility employee resource group, for example, has become a conduit for colleague engagement on this topic and we've been able to tap into the thoughts and ideas of our people across the Barclays network for the benefit of many of our charity clients.

Inspire UK co-chair Ryan Makuku says: “It’s been an amazing journey of discovery that has allowed us to tailor our strategy for our colleagues – and with time we will be fleshing this out for our customers and clients too.”

More in this series

Charity insights: taking the lead, shaping the future

Charity insights: taking the lead, shaping the future

The strong and effective leadership skills needed in the charity sector to navigate a shifting landscape have never been more important.

Charity insights: harnessing the potential of AI

Charity insights: harnessing the potential of AI

Find out how AI can be a tool for the charity sector.

Charity insight: focusing on financial resilience

Charity insight: focusing on financial resilience

The importance of financial planning and good strategies to aid in building financial health.

Get in touch

Barclays has provided specialist banking support to the charity sector for more than 20 years.

Speak to our team to find out how we can help you see the big picture.

Your next steps

2024 Outlook


Nazreen Visram, our Head of Charities, discusses how charities need to focus on financial resilience, investing in people and AI in 2024.

Industry expertise


Our team has over 100 years’ charity finance experience. We’ll help you get to the heart of the matter.


Corporate Banking Solutions

We provide a complete spectrum of solutions to enable your business to transact and trade easily, manage risks efficiently and finance its plans for growth.