Diversity means having differences within an organisation or setting. Diversity recognises we are all different in many ways. People with differing identities, backgrounds and experiences should all have equitable access to resources and decision-making. Some people prefer to use the term ‘representation’ to focus on how organisations should be reflective of the society we live in and the communities we serve.
Diversity is the appreciation of our unique differences seen and unseen.
I think we can all recognise that, in general, charity boards are less diverse than the general public, and so too are volunteers. Volunteers are more likely to be older, well-educated and from higher socio-economic groups. Those from lower socio-economic groups are also less likely to be in certain leadership or representative roles, like being a trustee. There is clearly a lot to do to improve the diversity of our organisations
Creating a work environment that respects and includes difference, recognising the unique contributions that individuals with many types of differences can make and maximising the potential of all employees and volunteers is what we should aspire to. Diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees. There is always more we can learn.
In our organisations it is important that we build a culture where difference is valued and a workforce that is representative of the people we serve. A culture that encourages, supports and celebrates the diverse voices of our employees and volunteers.
Here are some questions you might want to consider in your organisation.
- Are employees and volunteers comfortable bringing their authentic whole selves to work?
- Are all staff involved in decision-making wherever possible?
- Do all staff and volunteers have a voice to express their experiences?
- Do staff and volunteers feel safe in speaking up about things that concern them and confident that their concerns will be heard and acted upon?
It is important everyone reflects on their own experiences, assumptions and behaviours and is proactively inclusive in creating space for those often excluded. The two videos below reinforce the messages.
- Do one thing for diversity and inclusion – Different: We can all ''Do One Thing For Diversity and Inclusion'' ...or two!
- Diversity and Inclusion: Do we really understand diversity and inclusion? It’s more than words on a paper.