Diversity, equity and inclusion
We believe better health for all is within our reach and by becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organisation together we can achieve this.
In the first of the Foundation's 'Drivers of Change' occasional blog series in support of our Associate programme, we hear from Rachel Osando who joined us over the summer as part of the 10,000 Black Interns initiative.
In the first of the Foundation’s ‘Drivers of Change’ occasional blog series in support of our Associate programme, we hear from Rachel Osando who joined us over the summer as part of the 10,000 Black Interns initiative.
As part of her time at the Foundation, Rachel co-produced a video and in her own words shares her experience of entering the charity sector, her aspirations for the future and what needs to change to ensure the sector has the wide range of expertise and perspectives it needs to tackle the most pressing social challenges.
My name is Rachel Osando final year Politics student from South London. I believe in using my own experience as a Black woman from a low-income family, as well as my love of politics, to better understand communities and assist people in shaping the lives they deserve.
The charity sector is in a unique position because the work they do has a direct impact on people’s lives. This is the type of work I want to do throughout my career, in assisting individuals to tackle root causes of inequality. In using and growing my skills to assist individuals in overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of a better life.
The unique position of the charity sector necessitates the need for a similarly unique set of people to assist in making these goals a reality. While the sector may want to help people, it needs people who understand the underlying issues that communities it aims to serve are facing. It is by valuing this understanding and knowledge as necessary skills and experience to work in this sector that organisations can produce effective support that are best equipped to help support and solve the problems that communities are facing.
The unique position of the charity sector necessitates the need for a similarly unique set of people to assist in making these goals a reality.
It is critical for organisations with a social mission to hire people who have a thorough understanding of the issue at hand. This can be done by hiring people with both professional, skills-based understanding of the sector as well as having direct experience and understanding of the social issues and determinants charities are tackling. Having people with this range and nuanced understanding of experience working in the charity sector will enable organisations to have a real positive impact – this ability to support positive change is what makes me want to work in the charity sector.
From my perspective when discussing imposter syndrome, many people talk about it as if it is only in your head – it is not. As a person from a community facing marginalisation, based on my own my experience, I’ve found that these thoughts are frequently the result of microaggressions I have dealt with my entire life, particularly in the professional world.
As a Black woman, from my perspective, coming from poverty, is that I understood classism, racism, and sexism were all obstacles I had to overcome daily to obtain respected professional positions that people like myself were traditionally barred from. So, when I sit in a conference room and feel like an ‘imposter’, it’s not because I don’t believe I’m worthy of my position; it’s simply because systems contribute to making me feel like I am one.
As an apparent ‘imposter’ attempting to dismantle the barriers I’ve worked so hard to overcome in order to make life easier for the next generation. An ‘imposter’ who has entered a system that was not designed for people like me, but these systems have only become more inclusive because of social change. When voices like mine share our experiences, we can work together to make diversity a norm in the professional sector, so that people like myself are no longer made to feel like imposters and are able to take our seat at the table – where we belong.
When voices like mine share our experiences, we can work together to make diversity a norm in the professional sector, so that people like myself are no longer made to feel like imposters and are able to take our seat at the table – where we belong.
I’ve had the opportunity of learning amazing legal and policy skills as well as understanding the Foundation’s work, I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in being a driver of change. There are individuals and organisations who believe in this message and are working to create a more equitable society.
I admire the Foundation’s willingness to learn and adapt, as well as their ability to recognise what needs to change on the outside while also reflecting on being an organisation that reflects and looks like the communities they serve.
Trying to understand the world we live in is difficult for most young people, and figuring out where you fit in and what you want to be in the future can be even more challenging. As a Black woman who felt misplaced in a world that didn’t understand me, this was more difficult for me.
I would tell that younger version of myself, “You will never truly understand this world, but you will learn to live in” discovering what makes you happy and what you believe is your life’s purpose. Be open to learning and challenging yourself, but do not be afraid to challenge things you believe are incorrect. Because that is your tool for being a driver of change. Unapologetically be yourself in order to inspire others.
Unapologetically be yourself in order to inspire others.
For society to change, we must not be afraid to challenge existing habits, systems, and cultures. Whether it is organisations rethinking how they approach their social mission, or young people being self-assured in their development while having the courage to offer new and innovative approaches. Change is neither a bad thing nor a sign of failure; if we change for the better and respond to feedback, we are only one step closer to completing the missions we set out to accomplish.
Rachel Osando, Intern, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation
Thank you to Rachel for sharing your experience with us. Views expressed are Rachel’s own.
*Our Associate’s programme is an important part of the Foundations commitment to being a more inclusive, equitable and diverse employer and organisation. It forms part of our DEI Legacy workstream, which aims to build a fairer future for communities in the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark and to drive more equitable health.
Part of our DEI Legacy work is to nurture a diverse talent pipeline of staff and encourage people with a range of different expertise and backgrounds into the Foundation. It includes a strong focus on people with experience of inequalities the Foundation seeks to tackle and the places we work closest with.
This programme supports the Foundation’s core mission of health equity for all, supports our commitment to DEI and the sector’s ability to tackle health inequality in the long term.
Rachel took part in the 10,000 Black Interns programme in summer 2022. Find out more about the programme here.