To trans people and allies, we wish to say sorry for some past mistakes in our choices of donation recipients.
The statement of 30th November, which you can read below, was in response to social media posts asking whether it was true that we had donated to two named groups – a question to which we wanted to give a full and clear answer.
However, for those of you that have joined this conversation from different places and have been left wondering whether Lush has deliberately funded campaigning against trans rights, we want to assure you that this would never be our intention and we are sincerely sorry that any of our funding has gone towards doing this.
The normal process for Charity Pot is that small grassroots groups and campaigns submit an application giving details about the project they wish to undertake and some background information. They are also required to give the name of two referees who can vouch for them. On top of reading the application and speaking to the referees, we also always check out the website and any group social media accounts. Where possible we also try to see what sort of content is on personal social media accounts of people attached to the group, where any names are known.
There is never going to be a system that eliminates all mistakes, but we really take due diligence seriously. In the case of these two donations, we feel that money has gone to work that we would not feel proud to support and we wish to apologise unreservedly for that. We can assure you we are looking at all we do to try to strengthen our processes against further mistakes.
Over the last 5 years Charity Pot has given grants to 514 LGBTQ+ groups totalling £1.6 million. Our intention is to continue to fund the many wonderful trans groups that come to us needing help to stay safe and to fight for acceptance and we hope that this has not put you off applying. We never wish to let you down or to not be right there by your side during your struggles.
We are seeing some concerns on social media about some historic donations made by us through our Charity Pot grants, so we wanted to address those concerns and answer the questions being asked. We wish to be open and transparent about these issues, but we hope you also understand that we are unable to discuss all details because applications for grants are considered private and confidential, so there will be details that we cannot fully discuss or disclose.
Lush regard our business as an ally to the trans communities and to LGBTQ+ communities worldwide. We have always tried to ensure that our company is a safe and welcoming home to those who have been discriminated against in other work places. Aside from our own workplace, we have also campaigned on LGBTQ+ issues globally and have funded groups all over the world, including paying for safe houses in countries where LGBTQ+ people, and particularly trans people, are being threatened and killed. So we know in heart-breaking detail the exclusion, prejudice, intimidation and violence that these communities face and we try to be there when other funding and support is not.
Lush is also a very female powered business, with women making up the bulk of our workforce across every layer of the company. We know that women’s struggles are far from over, with violence still a worldwide problem and discrimination and limitation of opportunities still very persistent around the globe. We want Lush to be a company where there is no glass ceiling and where women are able to reach their full potential. We also wish to help women’s projects through Charity Pot.
In the UK, public discussions began on suggested amendments to the Gender Recognition Act. We gradually became aware that in some places these discussions were becoming heated and divisive. As time went on we found that we were receiving applications for grants towards public campaigning from both sides of the debate. We take the view that as a company we should never be funding two sides of a debate. And whilst we are allies worldwide to both women and LGBTQ+ communities, the company itself is not a member of these communities and does not have the expertise and insight that lived experience and belonging confer. We therefore decided that we would continue to fund and support LGBTQ+ and women’s issues via Charity Pot – but not campaigning work, discussion or lobbying on the specifics of the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act.
As such, for the past couple of years we have continued to give funding to much needed causes, but always try to carefully look at groups that apply to ensure that not only the project they are applying for grants towards, but also that the group itself, is not part of any toxic activity or hate talk around these issues. As you can imagine, this is not always an easy task as groups can be made up of many people, each with their own social media content – which might not always be in line with the main group’s general stance and opinions. Our goal has constantly been to not cut funding to our treasured LGBTQ+ friends worldwide nor to cease giving much needed funds to women’s struggles, but to remain outside of a debate where we have no authentic voice.
We have looked up the two grants that are highlighted in many of these social media posts and we would like to say that one was an application we received late in 2017, which predated our awareness of how toxic discussion around this issue had become and before we put rules in place around this subject. The second was an application for a proposed conference focusing on violence and sexual violence towards women, with extra consideration for BAME and international issues, with grants requested towards transport for low income and disabled attendees, translation for those who do not speak English as a first language, and for creche facilities.
To make our stance clear, we do not believe that Trans rights are a threat to women’s rights. Our belief is that a decent society should be able to structure itself to give rights and protection to all who need it. Those who are on the margins should not have to fight other marginalised groups to get the protections they deserve and have a right to – we should all be fighting together for a world free from discrimination of any kind, where all people can live their life to its fullest potential in peace and free from fear. We hope our Charity Pot grants will always continue to contribute towards this vision.