Our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion 

Prisoners Abroad is committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, supporting a fairer society through our work. The people we support are diverse individuals, and so are we. 

Alongside this published commitment, our chief executive has published a blog explaining our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Our EDI vision

Our aim is to achieve an equitable, diverse and inclusive organisation, ensuring that EDI is reflected in our values and embedded in our practices and individual behaviours. 

Our principles

  1. Our community – We value our differences and benefit from our diversity of thought, background and experience. We will reflect the diversity of those that we work with and for.
  2. Our behaviours – Individually and collectively we will uphold our shared vision and stand up to challenge behaviours that don’t reflect it.
  3. Our progress – Data will be central to our decision making in helping us measure and drive change. We won’t stop listening and learning and we will be honest and transparent about our progress.

For Prisoners Abroad, we take the words equity, diversity and inclusion to mean the following:

  1. Equity is about fairness. We know people have different starting points and we want to tailor our support to avoid any disparity - that is, any lack of fairness. If we treat everyone in the same way (equality), we will not support people in an equal or fair way.
  2. Diversity is about including various aspects of the differences between people. These differences include race and ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, disability, age and gender. 
  3. Inclusion is about helping people feel valued. It’s also about making sure our workplace is inclusive and accessible, and that nobody is prevented from working with us or being supported by us due to a protected characteristic.

Understanding the issue

We understand EDI through the lens and context in which Prisoners Abroad is operating. 

Global majority is a collective term that refers to people who are Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, indigenous to the global south, and who have been racialised as 'ethnic minorities'. Globally, these groups currently represent approximately eighty per cent (80%) of the world's population.

As a charity that supports people in and affected by criminal justice systems around the world, it is important to recognise that the system itself disproportionately impacts people from the global majority, given the overrepresentation of the global majority in London, UK prisons and in criminal justice systems worldwide. 

For Prisoners Abroad, that means we have a particular focus on increasing the proportion of our people that are from the global majority, as well as those who have lived experience of prison. 

We encounter racism, stigmatisation, discrimination and unfairness in our daily work, particularly given society’s attitude towards those who are in or who have been to prison, and a significant part to our work tries to counteract the impact of this on the people we support. 

People are discriminated against at many levels due to disrespect of their identities, heritage or characteristics. This is profoundly damaging to individuals, to groups and to society at large. It is also compounded by discrimination over more than one characteristic. Discrimination takes many forms, including deliberate and overt discriminatory behaviour, actions due to institutional or organisational structures and culture, and unconscious bias at the individual level.

No individual or organisation is immune from this, and it takes deliberation, self-examination and continuous effort to become less discriminatory and more inclusive, both at the personal and at the organisational level. Power and privilege play out in all areas of our lives from the macro to the micro. 

We believe in the broad and positive benefits of better EDI practice – to productivity, to individuals and to society itself. We will be brave and transparent in speaking out about these issues.

Our board and staff pledge ourselves to examine our own power and privilege, not forgetting the discrimination experienced by any of us as well, with the intention to detoxify damaging behaviours, structures and attitudes. We will take a ‘whole organisation’ approach to improvement. This means looking more closely than ever before at all aspects of our organisation. 

We will critically examine further our governance, management, service delivery, fundraising, communications, internal operations and relationships with our supporters and partners. Recognising that culture drives change more surely than strategy, we will build on our existing organisational culture, ensuring that all voices can be listened to and heard as we move forward.

We frame our EDI work in four main ways:

  1. The people at Prisoners Abroad – our trustees, staff and volunteers, our culture, and how we deal with issues.
  2. The people we support – who we are reaching.
  3. How we support people – the way we support, the services we offer, the issues we focus on, understanding any barriers and where we could improve.
  4. The people who support us – our donors, supporters, trusts/foundations and partners.

In late 2023 we developed an EDI action plan, and we will focus in 2024 and 2025 on implementing this. We will seek and be open to challenge and feedback and transparent in our reporting on progress, both internally and externally. 

Our action plan for 2024 and 2025

We will:

  1. Articulate our organisational commitment.
  2. Measure where we are – including a diversity survey of our workforce, publishing data, reviewing our language, reviewing our internal policy, increasing the data we collect from the people we support and increasing our understanding of our supporters and donors.
  3. Prioritise some initial actions – including promoting the use of people’s pronouns, promote the correct pronunciation of people’s names and have ‘EDI’ as a standing item on team meetings.
  4. Diversify our workforce - increasing the proportion of our workforce from the global majority and people with lived experience of the criminal justice system and overseas imprisonment. 
  5. Establish an EDI employee resource group.
  6. Embed core training for new staff and explore where there is a need for more training and understanding in specific areas.

Lived experience

We believe it is important to ensure that we are reflective of the people that we serve. As well as protected characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, disability, age and sexual orientation, we consider lived experience of the criminal justice system and overseas imprisonment as part of our approach and commitment to EDI, and given we support people with lived experience of the criminal justice system, we believe this should be reflected in our workforce too. 

Diversity of our workforce

We aim to provide a supportive environment where all our employees are treated fairly and with respect.

We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, and particularly encourage applications from people from the global majority.  

We welcome applications from people with lived experience of the criminal justice system. In line with the Ban the Box campaign, we do not require applicants to disclose their criminal record at the application stage. For most roles, we will ask about unspent convictions, although some roles will require a higher level of disclosure and an enhanced criminal record check. The job description will explain what information will be required. To ensure we encourage applications from people with lived experience and shortlist applications purely on merit, we will only ask for criminal record information at the job offer stage, after which we will consider the relevance to the job role and make an assessment that includes considering any adjustments that can be made.

Diversity snapshot

We want to meet our aims and commitments around equity, diversity and inclusion. This includes not discriminating under the Equality Act 2010, improving our diversity and building an accurate picture of the people looking to join our team. 

When we advertise roles at the charity, we ask applicants to complete an equalities and diversity monitoring form. The form is anonymous and does not request a name. We use this data to conduct an annual analysis of people who have applied for roles at the charity. 

For our existing workforce, we routinely conduct an anonymous survey, following which we conduct an analysis, make commitments and publish a diversity snapshot (see below). 

We celebrate the diversity amongst our workforce and want to ensure that everyone feels welcome. 

Prisoners Abroad is broadly comparable to the wider charity sector in its gender and age diversity, as well as the proportion of disabled people. Prisoners Abroad is more ethnically diverse than the wider charity sector, but the wider charity sector is behind the public and private sectors.

We want to increase our diversity, but it would be foolish to think that setting arbitrary targets is the way to get there. 

Our workforce commitments on diversity are that:

  1. We aim to increase the proportion of our workforce from the global majority. 
  2. We aim to increase the proportion of our workforce with lived experience of the criminal justice system and overseas imprisonment. 

Our trustee board commitments on diversity are that:

  1. We will continue with having diversity targets, including 50% of the board being female, 20% being non-White British and 20% having lived experience of the criminal justice system and overseas imprisonment. 
  2. We will consider how we can attract younger trustees

Updating on our progress

This page was first published in April 2024.

We will periodically update this page on our progress as part of our commitment to be open to challenge and feedback and transparent in our reporting on progress, both internally and externally.