A couple of weeks ago, the great folks at Queer Trustees took the co-hosting reigns of Wednesday’s charity hour. The theme of their hour? Diversity. Specifically in this case representation and creating spaces for queer voices on charity boards. This theme isn’t only for those of the LGBTQIA+ communities, diversity, representation and listening to the voices and experiences of those different to you is what will strengthen our sector and help to create a more equitable and decentralised supportive space.
What is diversity monitoring?
If you have ever applied for a job, you will most likely have completed an additional form that asks you about your ethnicity, religion, disabilities, sexuality, and gender. Why do we have these? Those five questions relate to what is known as protected characteristics, or elements of you that you should not be discriminated against for having. Monitoring the diversity of applications, or how many people identify as having one or more of these protected characteristics helps you to see a picture of the overall applicant pool, and if necessary make adjustments to help you reach a more diverse group of people.
Why should you be looking at diversity in your organisation>?
There are many reasons that you and your organisation should be focusing on diversity, but the first for many (sadly) is funders. More and more funders are looking to diversify their grant recipients – make sure that they represent a more reflective version of the sector – and so will give extra weighting to organisations that are led by or represent people with protected characteristics. Beware, a move to diversify your leadership shouldn’t be performative! There needs to be more than the need to fund your org to lead you towards improving diversity.
It has been proven that diverse workforces are better at solving problems, avoids “echo chamber” or confirmation bias mentalities much more effectively, and drive better creativity and innovation at work.https://recruitee.com/articles/diversity-recruiting-strategy
How can you get there?
Monitoring – like all forms of measurement, monitoring gives us a good picture of where we are now, and helps to show how (and if) we’re getting better. If you have made the decision to improve the diversity of your organisation, monitoring is very good place to start. Once you have a clear picture of the starting point, you can begin to make real measurable progress.
Setting goals – once you have begun to monitor, it’s important that you then start to set some goals. If you want to increase the number of people from disabled backgrounds (one I will focus on and can speak to some extent about, as, with ADHD, I am part of this group), you will need to first increase the number of people from this community applying for roles. To do this you’ll probably need to get better at the next three points…
Allyship (real allyship) – I highlight real in the description because real allyship isn’t about celebrating awareness days, sharing supportive comments during those times, its about listening to the people you are trying to support, giving up your place at the table so their voice can be heard, standing up, and doing all that to authentically support, and not just for the accolades.
Speaking to people within protected communities + making changes where they are needed – these two are the biggest and most important parts of any diversity work that you undertake. Sometimes, the excuse “no one from that community is interested in that kind of role” is used. Well, right here, right now, I want to call bullshit on that. Have you gone out of your way to reach people from that community?
If you have started the conversation, are you truly listening? I for example really struggle to complete structured application forms, their structure often doesn’t support my way of thinking and they don’t give me the opportunity that I need to really shine, and show the positive side to my neuro diversity.
ACEVO has outline 8 principles(https://www.acevo.org.uk/eight-principles-to-address-the-diversity-deficit-in-charity-leadership) to address the diversity deficit in the charity space:
- Acknowledge that there is a problem with racial diversity in the charity sector and commit to working to change that.
- Recognise the important role leaders have in creating change by modelling positive behaviour and taking action.
- Learn about racial bias and how it impacts leadership decisions.
- Commit to setting permanent and minimum targets for diversity that reflects the participants, donors, beneficiaries and the population of the area that my charity operates in.
- Commit to action and invest resources, where necessary, in order to improve racial diversity in my charity.
- View staff as the sum of many parts rather than a single entity and recruit to build a diverse group of talented people collectively working towards a shared vision.
- Recruit for potential, not perfection.
- Value lived experience, the ability to draw from one’s lived experience and to bring insights to an organisation that can develop its work.
And for some practical direction, Collaborative Future, have an excellent guide (https://www.collaborativefuture.co.uk/recruitment-guide-sign-up) to help too!
So what are we doing at BeMoreDigital?
As a fledgling organisation I want to build strong foundations for diversity. Here’s where we started, and where we’re going…
- Building a business model that is regenerative and distributive by design (blog on this to come) – taking workshops and training created as part of a bespoke solution and offering them after their first delivery to book for groups, and on a pay what you can basis
- Reviewing our incorporation as Limited by Shares (admittedly rushed to a LTD to make sure that I could respond to a really important brief) and exploring more inclusive models like Cooperatives to ensure equity is embedded in everything we do, right from the ground up.
- Setting ourselves the challenge to continuously expand our network and build new partnerships (more on this soon).
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