Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is more than just a box to tick

Shaw Trust, the UK’s largest not-for-profit social enterprise in the employment sector, has equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the heart of its organisation. Michelle Jackson, Shaw Trust’s Senior Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, explains that for true change to happen, EDI needs to move beyond a tick box exercise

How can you truly represent the people you support if they’re not reflected or represented in your workforce? Shaw Trust is committed to a fully diverse and representative workforce, where diversity and inclusion is embedded in everything it undertakes. This commitment is firmly written into its strategy and it has set ambitious targets. But how do you ensure that you can meet your objectives and get everyone in the organisation onboard? 

eLearning that goes beyond compliance
With a dedicated equality, diversity and inclusion team, Shaw Trust goes way beyond compliance eLearning. They deliver a suite of EDI training, have dedicated staff network groups and organise events that help staff to not only learn about EDI but also to understand how it relates to their roles and society.

“EDI is one of those areas where the more you train people, the more it uncovers  additional learning needs,” explains Michelle Jackson, Senior Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Shaw Trust. “Like most organisations, initially our training was around compliance. But what we wanted to do was help people understand how the legislation and the issues impact them in their role, and also how it impacts the people they are supporting. So it goes from simply compliance to application.”

In order to move beyond simply understanding legislation, Michelle suggests that people need a baseline of information and understanding of EDI. Staff can then identify the gaps in their knowledge and go on to suggest training that will fill in those gaps.  


Extending the conversation
“Equipping people with that baseline knowledge means that you can start having conversations with staff about how they can make their services more bespoke and more relevant to their client groups,” says Michelle. 

At Shaw Trust, eLearning is a great way to ensure that everyone reaches a baseline level of knowledge around EDI. However, there are lots of nuances that need to be addressed – which is where face to face training comes in. In addition, training is developed around areas of topical interest – such as race and Black Lives Matter – contextualising them for staff who are keen to learn more about societal issues. 

As well as eLearning and training, Shaw Trust also has a diversity and inclusion working group which works collaboratively to help embed best practice within the organisation. This helps to ensure that the charity is on track to achieve its ambitious EDI targets. 

Employees can also get involved in staff network groups, which provide a safe space for them to share ideas, make suggestions and provide feedback on how the organisation’s plans are working and their impact. The groups include the Disabled Employee Network, Racial Equality Network and LGBTQ+ Network. 

We’re all on a learning journey
“When it comes to EDI, people can feel vulnerable about identifying and acknowledging that there are gaps in their knowledge or understanding,” says Michelle. “People can feel that they should know things, but even I don’t know everything and this is my job! We try to convey to staff that we’re all on this learning journey together. And things are changing constantly, so there’s no need for you to think that you should know it all.”

In addition to the various eLearning, training and staff network groups, Shaw Trust has a diversity calendar which highlights events such as International Women’s Day, Pride and Black History Month. This offers an opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness about the lived experience of staff and the people that they support.


A snapshot of EDI at Shaw Trust

  • Ambitious targets
  • A specialist advisor
  • eLearning and face-to-face training
  • A working group
  • Staff network groups
  • A diversity calendar



Ambitious targets

The Shaw Trust Strategic Directive 2030 sets out a commitment to achieve the following:

  • No artificial barriers or ceilings to advancement whatever the individual’s background
  • Positive action where appropriate to shape its workforce
  • Creating safe spaces for anyone in its workforce, especially those with Protected Characteristics

To achieve these commitments, It has put the following measures in place:

  • Diversity and inclusion policy, which sets out its commitment to closing the gap in achievement and outcomes for staff and people that it supports.
  • Diversity and inclusion strategy, which sets out how it will achieve these ambitions and commitments
  • An ambitious five year diversity and inclusion plan, which sets out the activities it will undertake to remove barriers and meet the commitments and ambitions outlined in the strategic directive, with a particular focus on:
    • Improving the impact of the advice, guidance and support it provides to help people enter good quality employment, apprenticeships, education and training
    • Learning and development
    • Inclusive recruitment and selection practices
    • Targeted talent development activities
    • Adding social value to the communities where it works

Progress reports are regularly provided to the Shaw Trust Board.

Sarah Burrell

About Michelle Jackson

Michelle Jackson is the Senior Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisor at Shaw Trust where she leads on EDI, helping the organisation to put EDI at the heart of everything it does and meet ambitious targets set out in its organisational strategy. 

About Shaw Trust
Shaw Trust believes everyone has the right to live a decent and dignified life and have an opportunity for rewarding work. The Trust is a social purpose organisation, challenging inequality and breaking down barriers to enable social mobility. Having grown from humble beginnings in 1982 in the village of Shaw in Wiltshire, finding jobs for disabled people, today it is a complex and diverse charity committed to employment as the core pathway to a better life. Being part of the solution is about creating the conditions for this to happen, advocating and delivering services that make a real difference. Working in partnership not competition, Shaw Trust is part of an eco-system of purpose-led organisations, striving for a fairer, more equal society centred on opportunity for all. Shaw Trust was founded on these principles more than 30 years ago, and for our 2,500 employees and 1,000 volunteers across the UK, they remain true.

 At the Charity Learning Consortium, we’re committed to helping charities start the conversation around EDI. Take a look at our EDI project and resources on our Clear Lessons platform.  

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