A joint statement on our strategic plan for diversity and inclusion

Joint statement from Girlguiding CEO Angela Salt, Chief Guide Amanda Medler and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Catherine Irwin

Our new strategic plan for diversity and inclusion at Girlguiding

We know that being inclusive is a value girls and volunteers hold close and care deeply about, as do we.

As a movement, we're united by our vision for an equal world for all girls and young women and by our Promise.

Through our Promise, our members pledge to be active citizens in our communities and the wider world, to help others and to respect the beliefs of others. During the past twelve months, we’ve seen many instances highlighting how relevant this Promise remains today - with community action helping us all through the Covid-19 pandemic.

When consulting on and developing Girlguiding's Strategy, our community of girls, volunteers, staff, parents and carers, told us they wanted Girlguiding to be more inclusive and welcoming to all. Being an inclusive and impactful organisation became one of our key shared goals.

We know there are many examples of our guiding community working hard to create a welcoming space for all girls. But we also know from our research that Girlguiding is not yet as diverse and inclusive as we want it to be, and we need to do more to build on the work we’ve already been doing to support inclusion.

To inform a new strategic plan for diversity and inclusion, over the last year we've worked collaboratively on what being inclusive means for Girlguiding. Through a diversity and inclusion audit with over 200 people within guiding - including volunteers, girls, parents and carers and staff from Girlguiding UK - we spent time understanding their experiences with us. We prioritised making space for people belonging to marginalised groups - those who we know from our existing insight and research haven’t been fully included, heard or represented in the past.

Though members and staff told us about times we’d got inclusion right and their commitment and loyalty to Girlguiding, they also shared their experiences of when we haven’t got it right and how it made them feel.

Regrettably, we learnt that not everyone always feels welcome, or like they belong and there have been experiences of exclusion and discrimination. It revealed instances of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and discrimination against disabled people and people experiencing economic disadvantage in guiding. Our data also indicates that we don’t yet reflect the diversity of our society.

On behalf of Girlguiding, we are sorry to anyone who has ever been made to feel unwelcome, unsupported or uncomfortable or who has been subject to discrimination or exclusion of any form at Girlguiding. Even one instance is one too many.

To move forward, we need to collectively and individually acknowledge that we've not yet lived up to our values of inclusion. We’re sorry that we’ve not done enough sooner.

Our ambition for diversity and inclusion is for Girlguiding to be a place where everyone is welcome, is free to be themselves, and has an equal sense of belonging – whoever they are and wherever they’re from. We now have a bold strategic plan to achieve this ambition together in a sustainable way, that puts the people who haven’t been fully included or represented in the past at its heart.

We feel honoured and humbled to be leading Girlguiding in unprecedented times of recovery and transformation and we're fully committed to tackling the problems we’ve found head-on, and to our own personal journeys of change. We'll also support our guiding community on this new phase of our journey together.

You can read more about our strategic plan for diversity and inclusion here, and of the work we are already doing to make Girlguiding a more welcoming place for all.

Thank you to the staff, volunteers, girls, parents and carers who took part in the audit and shared your experiences. Thank you for caring, for staying with us, and helping us to improve.

Thank you also to all our remarkable membership and staff for continuing this journey with us, to be the inclusive organisation we want to be, for every girl.