Our diversity and inclusion journey

Being inclusive is important to us and we want to continue our journey

Being inclusive is one of our values.

We know through our research – for example our strategy consultation, Future Girl, and Girls’ Attitudes Survey – that it’s also important to our young members and to all girls.

Through our shared Promise we make a commitment to being active citizens in our communities and the wider world, to helping others, and to respecting the beliefs of others. Being inclusive helps us all live our Promise.

We support our volunteers to include everyone with the advice and guidance we share. And all members must follow our Equality and diversity policy and our Anti-bullying and harassment policy.

We’ve been focussing on reaching groups that are underrepresented in guiding. Our Delivering Diversity project, for example, worked to raise awareness of guiding and open new groups in the most deprived areas of the UK so that girls, young women and potential volunteers from all backgrounds can join us.

And we’ve been doing more to support members to celebrate, learn about and mark important dates and events, such as Pride, Black History Month, Holocaust Memorial Day, and religious festivals. We've created some great partnerships to help us give extra support for young carers and for our disabled members should they need it – to name a couple.

But we know we need to do much more. That’s why we’re making a new commitment and starting to action our new diversity and inclusion plan.

Our research and audit

In 2020 we did a lot of research into your experiences in guiding through our diversity and inclusion audit. We worked with experts to make sure we followed best practice. And we talked to people from all areas of guiding, across the UK, to hear their experiences of feeling included and excluded or discriminated against in guiding. This included girls, volunteers, parents and carers, staff and trustees.

We heard from over 200 people through 46 interviews, 17 focus groups and a survey. And we looked at all the research, data and processes we already had. It was a priority for us to hear from those who have been underrepresented in our work. That means we really wanted to hear the experiences of LGBT+ people, people of colour, people at economic disadvantage, disabled people and people with a faith that isn’t well represented in the guiding community, such as Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism.

“I have been the only person of colour throughout my Girlguiding experience, to this day”

Young member

The people we spoke to shared their commitment to and loyalty to Girlguiding, and how they want to help us do better. We heard about times we’d got inclusion right. We also heard about times we let you down, the negative experiences and how much that hurt.

We learnt that not all of you have always felt welcome, or like you belong, at Girlguiding. And that staff, girls and volunteers have had experiences of being excluded or discriminated against.

“At Girlguiding meetings, I feel like I have to hide part of my identity.”

Young member

We learnt that we don’t yet have a consistently inclusive culture. We found that not everyone feels they have the same opportunities or can progress equally. You don't all feel welcome or like you belong at Girlguiding. And there can be a lack of inclusive decision making, with people from marginalised groups telling us that their voices are often unheard.

We heard from girls, volunteers and staff who've experienced exclusion and discrimination. There are instances of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, discrimination because of class (classism) and discrimination because of disability (ableism) happening in Girlguiding.

Exclusion and discrimination were most often reported by people of colour, including staff, volunteers, young members, and parents. Most people we spoke to also told us that we need to improve the ways that these incidents are reported and handled.

It’s clear that our membership and staff teams are not as diverse as the world we live in. This is the case at all levels of Girlguiding, particularly in senior leadership of staff and volunteers. And this leads to a lack of role models for girls and women from a diversity of backgrounds.

We found that sometimes it’s hard to understand how to create a truly inclusive culture. You told us that our current training and advice don’t do enough to help.

“I experienced exclusion from my unit multiple times because of my disability. I’ve been told not to go on trips because it’s not safe.”

– Young member

We found that the amount it can cost to take part in guiding can be too high for some families. This stops some girls from joining or taking part fully.

We learnt that you think we should create closer bonds with the communities that are currently underrepresented in our organisation.

We found that there is a lack of trust in our commitment to, and understanding, of inclusion.

None of this is good enough. We have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be.

Download the full diversity and inclusion audit report (PDF)

Building our plan

Towards the end of 2020, with support from experts outside guiding, we collaboratively created a strategic plan to address the problems we’ve found. This plan is an important part of Girlguiding’s strategy, and our leadership are fully committed to it.