Over several years, Oxfam Canada has increasingly centered diversity and inclusion in our ways of working and our vision of a just and sustainable world. Building on our feminist principles, we know that an intersectional approach, one that recognizes the multiple and layered identities of women in all their diversity, is essential to advancing our mission and creating a safe and inclusive environment for staff and partners.
Over the past year, Oxfam Canada has doubled down on these commitments. We were jolted into action by the Black Lives Matter movement and inspired by the many formidable women around the world who are leading the charge for racial justice. If we are to be true to our mission of fighting inequality and patriarchy to end poverty and injustice, we need to become an actively anti-racist organization and specifically call out and help dismantle anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Along with many others in 2020, Oxfam re-stated our commitment to this work. We want to be transparent about the journey we’re on, letting our supporters and allies know about the progress we’re making, but also acknowledging our setbacks and shortcomings. We are sincere in our commitments and want to be held accountable.
Progress in 2020
Over the past year, Oxfam has undertaken the following actions in support of becoming a more actively anti-racist organization:
- We commissioned research to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on racialized and other marginalized groups in Canada, and worked to deliberately ensure the voices of young racialized women were part of formal consultations on Canada’s feminist foreign policy.
- We provided financial support as part of our in-Canada programming to several organizations driving forward feminist anti-racist agendas: Black Women in Motion, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, National Congress of Black Women Foundation and Assembly of Seven Generations.
- We have accelerated our work to ensure the highest demonstration of Oxfam’s Ethical Content guidelines to uphold and promote the rights of people featured in our communications.
- We have centered our commitment to growing as a more feminist, anti-racist and inclusive organization as a key pillar within our 2021-2025 strategic framework. This work is an organizational priority, with key indicators and a commitment to public reporting. Our Board of Directors is committed to monitoring progress and addressing structural racism within our own organization.
- We established a Plan of Action on anti-racism, justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, which outlines the actions we will undertake to change our work culture, policies, systems, and programs. While our Executive Director holds ultimate accountability our staff is collectively committed to driving this work forward.
- We undertook anti-oppression training, focusing conversations and learnings in particular areas of work: policy and advocacy, communications, program development and implementation.
- All staff participated in a workshop on decolonizing development led by PopWorks Africa and participated in conversations with our Board of Directors on the history and future of Oxfam’s work as an anti-racist organization.
- We signed on to the Cooperation Canada sector wide anti-racism framework which outlines key commitments for change in administration and human resources, communications, advocacy and knowledge management, and program design, monitoring and evaluation. We will report regularly on progress to meet the markers within this framework.
- We continue to resource and support staff-led working groups on diversity and inclusion and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, to ensure that staff have time and space to engage in this important work.
We are proud to share the progress we have made. At the same time, we recognize this is long, hard and complex work that requires ongoing and sustained resourcing and commitment to implement changes in a meaningful and impactful way. We will continue to be transparent on our journey and welcome feedback and reflections to further inform our way forward.