Tony Malone, MSSC Diversity & Inclusion Lead, explains how our new EDI action plan will help everyone feel welcome at Sea Cadets
EDI or equity, diversity and inclusion, is a technical term for two things: how we celebrate, include and remove all the barriers that prevent people from participating and joining Sea Cadets, and a way to describe the work we do to ensure everyone feels that they belong to our community.
EDI looks at what we call ‘protected characteristics’, which include: race, age, gender identity, faith/no faith, maternity and paternity, disability, sex, socio-economic status and sexual orientation. We also include subjects such as emotional and mental health, and accessibility.
I sometimes use this description when explaining it to people: Equality is inviting everyone to a dinner party. Equity is ensuring that everyone can have a chair that fits them perfectly at the table, or space for their wheelchair. Diversity is ensuring that everyone has enough enjoyable food for their diets, faiths or medical requirements. And inclusion is being asked to dance afterwards – it is feeling fully included in the experience and that you are welcome and belong at the party.
Making it official
The charity needed an EDI action plan because we have work to do. We want to get this right. By creating a plan, we have mapped out in depth what we are doing, when and with who. This allows us to be open, transparent and honest about our work and our progress, and to provide clear guidance on what we are aspiring to be: more inclusive, and welcoming to all who want to take part in Sea Cadets.
At the last Cadet Conference (learn about that here), of the many cadets there, representing the views of thousands more across the UK, four out of the top six calls for change were about EDI.
At number one was that “MSSC look to include more ways that disabled young people can participate in Sea Cadets activities”. This is a clear request for us to become more relevant to young people’s views on diversity and inclusion subjects. By making these changes – in an inclusive way – we ensure we are supporting our volunteers with the language and knowledge for them to confidently have these conversations.
It is never easy to read about challenges we face and any potential barriers to participation, but it is essential to do this so that we improve. The 2022 EDI report, available from the MSSC website, demonstrates one of the strengths of our charity: the transparent ways in which we share what we do. The report highlights in detail the experiences of marginalised people and communities within Sea Cadets and gives them a voice for us to listen to, learn from and reflect upon, so we can change how we do things.
Through the audit we have generated 52 recommendations for us to implement in our work. The charity’s new strategy includes ways for us to meet these, alongside an EDI action plan to make the changes needed.
Change is essential so that we can remain relevant to young people now and in the future. This will require policy reviews, updates and new opportunities for listening and giving feedback.
It will also include the opportunity for growth and learning in new ways, which we anticipate to be challenging at times, but something we can all enjoy undertaking.
In my new role as the Diversity and Inclusion Lead for Marine Society and Sea Cadets, I hope to take the charity’s EDI strategy forward, towards transformation and happiness. My job is not only to meet the requirements of the strategy and EDI report, but to look for opportunities to share best practices, welcome new conversations and ensure we leave no one behind in our work in this area.
I know our young people are passionate about getting inclusivity and diversity right. This is an immense source of passion, which I hope to learn from and help bring their ideas to fruition.
Find our EDI plan here.
Photos: Sea Cadets
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The National Trafalgar Day Parade is one of our biggest events. Some of those who were there share their experiences of taking part
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We headed down to the National Combined Regatta at London’s Royal Victoria Docks to chat to some of the cadets, volunteers and staff who were there