Many third sector organisations experienced a considerable slump through 2020 due to the pandemic, but as the world begins to recover in 2021, more and more charities are embracing the possibility of new directions. And part of this recalibration means focusing more time and attention on things like diversity and inclusion.
The whole sector was hit by the pandemic, with big and small charities being forced to make employees redundant or implement hiring freezes. But with the recent news of the vaccine and restrictions starting to lessen, it may be time to think about growing your workforce once again. But what will you do differently in 2021 to ensure better diversity in your charity going forward?
Be wary of the trap of ‘like-for-like’ hiring
It can be easy to hire people from similar backgrounds—we tend to try and fill employment gaps with candidates who think and work just like the people who came before them. But there are huge benefits to considering people from different backgrounds and experiences, beyond just the obvious moral, ethical and legal reasons, as diversity really can help charities understand and connect with their beneficiaries and communities on a deeper level.
There’s no one-size-fits-all explanation of how to be diverse and inclusive, but as a general rule, everyone should feel valued and respected within your organisation, regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, physical disability, long-term health problems, pregnancy (and accompanying maternity/paternity options), marriage/civil partnership or social or economic background.
Here are just a few reasons why being an inclusive employer can help you drive your charity forward in 2021 and beyond.
1. A better understanding of donors and beneficiaries
Charities exist to support a diverse range of people in a variety of situations, many of whom are extremely vulnerable. So it’s only sensible for your staff to reflect the cultural and socio-economic backgrounds of the people you are trying to help. But even beyond that, it helps you connect more with a wider range of donors who can support your cause. To really understand your donors, you need to have people on your team who can truly inform you about their wants, needs and ways of thinking, helping you to broaden your knowledge of how to appeal to your community more effectively.
In turn, if donors can see your commitment to being an inclusive employer, that can institute a better sense of trust and build a lasting relationship that keeps them coming back time and time again.
2. Innovation and diverse thinking
Employees are what really makes an organisation, and staff bring ideas to your charity. If you continue to hire like-for-like, you’re robbing yourself of innovative and creative ideas that your team may not have previously thought of. Staff from varied backgrounds can bring perspectives that others simply might not have even considered.
When different groups of people work together and combine skills, they are more likely to drive innovation. That’s because allowing for new perspectives helps you think outside the box. Often, we don’t realise we are working through a set of biases, and by bringing in new, diverse staff, you can address these biases and move past them.
Supporting a diverse charity team
There are also ways you should support your employees to provide a more inclusive workplace environment, such as accessibility allowances for disabled employees, offering flexible working arrangements for anyone who may need it for medical, familial, or religious reasons and clear and concise HR policies for dealing with any grievance.
Remember, not everyone is equipped to work traditional hours or even commute into an office for a job, so opening up the possibility of more remote working and flexible options can inspire amazing new people to apply who may not have thought it possible to work for your charity before.
There’s never been a more significant time to be open to new ways of working. In a culture of economic uncertainty, you need to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to make your charity the best it can be.
So cast your net wide. Amazing candidates are out there, and by being inclusive you’re inspiring more talented and passionate people than ever before to apply for your organisation. It will benefit your employees’ morale and productivity, your donors’ trust in your company and ultimately help you raise more funds to make a better impact on your community.
And what could be better than that?