Equity announces new Independent Commission for Race Equality

Equity has launched an Independent Commission for Race Equality (ICRE) to help create a road map for improved employment practices for black and minority ethnic workers (BME) across the entertainment industry in a post-COVID landscape.

The ICRE is tasked with exploring the impact of the resignation of the union’s Race Equality Committee (REC) on relations with BME members as part of a wide-ranging review of Equity’s activity to address the long-standing discriminatory practices they face.

ICRE is an independent advisory group with the agency to convene meetings, invite expert witnesses, commission research, question and inquire, collaborate and work with members, and make alliances across the community of workers in the entertainment industry. The Commission reports directly to Council (the union’s ruling body), to whom it will make on-going recommendations, concluding its work in December 2020.  The Commission does not replace the REC, and part of its remit is to examine the process for re-electing a new Committee.

The Commission is comprised of a wide, diverse group of working members of the union reflecting the different professional roles of Equity’s members and drawn from across the UK’s nations and regions. The Commission is co-chaired by Johnny Worthy, Tanya Moodie and Chipo Chung. The Commission also includes Dawn Hope as a representative of Equity’s Council.

In welcoming his role as Chair Johnny Worthy commented: “I helped establish the original group within Equity for BME members in the 1970s. I understand that our union’s members continue to face prevailing challenges in creating a level playing field, and I welcome my role in helping Equity to create a policy to achieve this.”

In acknowledging the challenging nature of its work, Tanya Moodie stated: “The Commission’s role is to listen to the union’s black and minority ethnic membership, ask the union leadership fundamental questions about how the it organises, represents and fights for black and minority ethnic workers, and take urgent action to radically reform the union’s anti-racism work.”

Welcoming an opportunity for reconciliation with those who have resigned from the REC, Chipo Chung stated: “During this uncertain and devastating time for the theatre we need Equity to be strong, and we need our union to protect those who are most at risk of discrimination. I applaud Equity’s courage in giving the mandate on anti-racism to the BME community by setting up the Commission and committing to a process of listening. Our mission is not to replace the hard work of former members of the Race Equality Committee, but to provide a space of inquiry, accountability, collaboration, and solidarity, with the potential for real social change within our industry.”

Representing Equity’s Council Dawn Hope added: “I am humbled and ready to work on the Commission. I look forward to bringing transparency, accountability, and respect to the urgent concerns of all Equity's black and minority ethnic members, through listening, and understanding the long frustrations that have built up, both in places of work and within the union itself.”

The Commission welcomes a strong, positive working relationship with those who resigned from the REC to transform recent organisational conflict into an opportunity for radical social change. This group has been approached with the offer of being the first body of expert witnesses to contribute evidence to the Commission.

Equity’s BME membership will be encouraged to contribute to the work of the Commission. Periodic updates on the work of the Commission will be posted on the Equity website.