Wednesday 24 June, 2020

Addressing diversity in the Goldsmiths’ Company, our Charity and our trade

There is no place for racism, or any other form of discrimination, in our Company or the Goldsmiths' Company Charity. We are committed to diversity, equity and inclusivity, as stated in the new Company Strategy (published 14 February 2020), and to solidarity with our BAME colleagues and communities. 

Following events in this country and elsewhere sparked by the appalling and senseless killing of George Floyd, the Goldsmiths’ Company and the Charity have been reviewing efforts to address diversity, equity and inclusion within our organisations, and in the craft and trade we support. 

We know we have much to do to achieve better in these areas. All this will require sustained commitment and substantive change, going beyond statements of intent and quick fixes. And it will involve collaboration with other partners in an industry-wide effort.  
Until relatively recently in the long sweep of our history, the members of Livery Companies were mostly male and almost exclusively white. When we look at the membership of the Goldsmiths’ Company today, we are making progress on gender*. We have never asked our members or staff to self-identify by ethnicity, and we have no data on ethnic diversity. But we don’t need the data to tell us that we are not yet anywhere near where we want to be in having a membership and staff that reflect the diversity of the City of London, our home for nearly seven centuries.

What are we doing about this? 

1.    Understanding our history and possible connections to the slave trade: At the moment, we are not aware of the Company having been involved directly with the transatlantic slave trade, and the bulk of the Company’s and Charity’s financial resources come from bequests that predate that era. We are, however, researching our history to establish the facts. If there are past injustices to acknowledge and from which we should learn, we would want to do this. 

2.    Supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic jewellers and silversmiths: We recognise that people from a BAME background are underrepresented in our industry. We have started conversations with individuals and organisations in our craft and trade to look at understanding the barriers to the industry, education and training; financial support; and providing a platform to promote the work of black and minority ethnic jewellers and silversmiths. 

3.    Improving diversity in the Company and Charity: We changed our Company membership selection process last year (September 2019) to make it more transparent, fully auditable and better able to improve our diversity. We are making progress, but there is more work to be done. We will be consulting members and staff on this. And we are looking at capturing diversity data to help us establish a baseline, set targets and measure progress in our staff and membership.

4.    Providing financial support: In addition to our support for our craft and trade, the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity’s main grant-giving priorities are young people; education; ageing population; and prisoner reintegration. The Charity is looking at whether we are doing enough in these areas to support people of colour and causes that focus on diversity, equity, and justice.

5.    Listening and learning: Recent events have highlighted the need for all of us to be informed about the issues that are now centre stage – where they should be. We all need to know about the Black British experience and about racism and discrimination in our communities and across the world. We also need to develop our discussion of any concerns arising from the mining and extraction of precious metals. We are committed to listening to the views and ideas of others and to learning as much as we can to educate ourselves and to inform the decisions and choices we make. 

We certainly don’t have all the answers yet, and some of this work will take time. But we are absolutely determined to tackle the issues with focus and urgency, and to collaborate with others to achieve visible change.

Richard Fox, Prime Warden, The Goldsmith’s Company

*Statistics on gender at Goldsmiths’ Company
•    43% of our current cohort of apprentices are women
•    26% of our members are women
•    34% of our members under the age of 45 are women
•    We have rapidly increased gender representation on our Board-equivalent, the Court of Assistants: 20% are women, compared with zero before 2006. 
•    58% of our 144 employees are women. 

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