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We believe the changes that are to be made for the continued development and betterment of our collective society must be drawn out from the lived experiences and acquired expertise of people that represent the populations that we are trying to support. Beyond statically giving people the opportunity to access resources through a globally viewable website or “open” application form, organisations that hold the key to the further development of our integrated societal systems through fellowships, funding, resource allocation and more must seek to be actively inclusive of marginalised populations. This is the only way to ensure that the future we create will have a marked positive difference to the present day we currently inhabit.
The world we are building is one in which each person has access to the tools and resources they need to effectively engage in the systems around them to affect positive change for the benefit of all stakeholders. So what happens when a vast majority of the connected population to a system of services, principles and governances is not? You rarely attain forward movement and instead get a re-constitution or re-make of the things that were seemingly successful before. More of the same isn’t what systems change is about. We need to upheave deep-rooted behaviours that stem from the allowances of policies and practices that are no longer fit for purpose.
There are a few key methods that organisations can adopt to ensure that their work is both actively diverse and effectively inclusive. Here is our vehicle, RED METRO; it is formed of 8 keys organisations can use to ensure they are putting Diversity and Inclusion at the centre of their systems change initiatives:
We implore clients to work within as many varying circles as possible when seeking opportunities to attract potential candidates. As your organisation seeks to employ people from diverse backgrounds and demographics or gain access to skilled volunteers, some creativity will have to be utilised to help your organisation compete with the big companies who can pay more and offer better perks. First tap into the motivation of the potential employees or volunteers. Second, ensure that you are authentically and actively reaching into community groups and professional networks that specifically cater to the demographics you are seeking.
The most effective way to ensure systems change within your organisation is to ensure that the people with a vested interest to see that change come about are effectively empowered to voice their opinion and move the culture of the organisation forward in a way that includes them well. There are a number of methods your organisation can adopt to increase the active engagement of underrepresented people. One such way is to break the barrier between ranks and create open floor discussions on as many things as would make sense.
For your organisation to succeed in its attempts at reshaping the internal policies and practices to suit more demographics of people, the leaders must be willing to divest power to change aspects of your organisation to the employees that are directly affected by any organisational change. Divesting power is the overall theme of this work and it runs central to all the suggestions that we can make. You must submit to the influence of your employees and other key stakeholders to ensure your future success as an organisation.
As an organisational leader, it is up to you and your employees to develop a set of metrics that you can commit to in terms of your Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. You might want to consider a place-based approach in some of this. For example, the Black population in the UK is 3% whereas the Black population in Lambeth (London) is 30.4%. If your organisation is based in Lambeth and delivers its work in Lambeth, it makes sense to commit to a 30% Black population in your workforce or volunteer brigade. We also suggest that you develop and utilise a wellbeing survey and a culture survey for your entire workforce on a bi-annual basis.
This is about ensuring that the interventions you are adopting are having the desired result for your organisation. By adopting effectiveness measurements across your Diversity and Inclusion work you will be more able to ensure that you are remaining cost-effective in your engagements and that you can continue this work for the long term. The last thing you want is to adopt a flash in the pan campaign that costs a lot of money, doesn’t have the desired effect long-term and eventually breeds animosity towards the leadership.
It is important to recognise that though you have hired people from different demographics for the same role, their starting positions are in fact different. As an organisational leader, you have to figure out what the needs are of your individual employees and support them effectively to get to the next stage within your organisation as cost-effectively as possible. From a Diversity and Inclusion perspective, you should be targeting your development initiatives first to those in most need of support.
This goes beyond ensuring that the senior management has a reporting system that holds them accountable, e.g. trustee board or investors. The type of reporting we are referring to is done by individuals within the organisation to give the senior management a 360-degree view of what is happening in real-time. If anyone in your organisation sees something that they think contradicts the culture you have intentionally set within the organisation, they should be able to tap into an existing reporting structure that will evaluate the complaint and update them on the situation when it has been addressed and again when it has been resolved.
The first real interaction your employees will have with your organisation is through the onboarding process that you create. It is therefore in your best interest to ensure that the culture you have intentionally created for your organisation rings true in that process as well. Something we encourage our clients to adopt is a suite of training that takes place in the first three months of every employee’s lifespan in the organisation. This includes unconscious bias training, workplace race relations and training to support employees as they combat imposter syndrome. Provide a compulsory suite of training as well as a few options they can engage with based on their own known needs.
RED METRO is how you can engage in effective, long-term systems change that has Diversity and Inclusion at its centre.