The work on ISMs covers all aspects of oppression that are structural e.g. class, gender, sexuality. However, we’re starting with a strong focus on racial justice

What is the purpose of this work? 

The purpose of this work is to put a sustained and explicit focus on aspects of oppression that we need to give more focus to across all aspects of our work. This goes from who we recruit, how we recognise and reward leadership through to who we fund and partner with. The ISM team (Alice, Julian, Jenny, Renee and Karen) meet to hold the focus on this work, but we see our role as helping this work to integrate and embed across all of our work. 

What’s currently happening? 

As you have seen in previous updates to the Board, we’re doing a range of work around this. Since the last update:

  • We’ve identified that there was confusion between anti-racism and racial justice. So we’ve developed definitions that incorporate the words of others and fits to our work ( see the appendix below) . 
  • We’re working with Dr Orit Gal to help us look at the signals emerging from the racial justice work that we’re funding. 
  • We’re continuing to work with consultants Jamie and Tumu to help us think through anti-oppressive work. This has helped us to look at different styles of leadership that we would like to take as examples and how we make decisions internally. These are being translated into job descriptions and more explicit descriptions of who can make decisions about what and how those decisions are made. This is an evolving work in progress. 
  • The work of the white staff working through Me and White Supremacy is coming to an end and we’re thinking through what we should do next. 

Most of this work is being held by the ISM portfolio team, and through an updated racial justice accountability plan. 

What are we learning? 

We haven’t reflected collectively recently on what we’ve noticed about our internal work so I’m going to hold off on putting anything in here until we’ve reflected on this as the ISM team. We’re also mid process with Orit where we’re just spotting signals. 

A range of signals have emerged, two that came through strongly are: 

  • The sense of grief that groups are experiencing through the loss of individuals due to COVID-19. 
  • A sense of despair and overwhelm as the “establishment” pushes back. 

What next? 

We will be continuing to focus on the work through a racial justice lens, whilst bringing the intersectional lens into this. The aim is that this becomes embedded and integrated across all our work. 


We see anti-racism as:

  • The work of us as individuals in our journey towards being anti-racist e.g. white supremacy and me workbook. 
  • The individuals acts of challenging and opposing racist behaviour.
  • A much needed piece of jigsaw in achieving racial justice. 
  • A journey, and one that you will never stop being on.
  • A stepping stone towards racial justice. 
  • Where the work of funders often stops e.g. gypsy and traveller work. 

We don’t see anti-racism as:

  • Tackling the structures, institutions and societal level drivers that lead to equity. 
  • Dealing with the power structures that drive racial injustice. 
  • Working at the level of we. 
  • The end in and of itself. 

Racial justice

We see racial justice as:

  • Anything that is working towards the betterment of communities of colour and other racially minoritised communities e.g. gypsies and travellers. 
  • Recognises that specific work of redress might be needed e.g. anti-blackness.
  • Ensuring that financial and other resources are fairly distributed. 
  • Is about work that addresses the structures of oppression e.g. challenging law, modelling alternatives
  • Including work on the power structures in society. 
  • Emerging from collective action and is about changing systems. 
  • Actively seeking to create structures, systems and institutions that achieve racial equity.
  • Implementing interventions that use an intersectional analysis and that impact multiple systems, 
  • About healing, renewing and reimagining at a societal level. 

Racial justice:

  • Is not the work at the individual level. 
  • Is not possible without the anti-racist work each of us need to do. 
  • Is not a charitable reactive response to addressing harms.