As more charities are setting up values committees to support with equity, diversity and inclusion within their organisations, certain factors must be taken into consideration to ensure that equity is built into the process. We have outlined below three points for charities and social impact organisations to consider, especially if they do not have the resources to bring in an external consultant and rely on their staff.
Open lines of communication
Organisations should ensure that there is an open line of communication between the staff Equity, Diversity and Inclusion(EDI) committee/sub committee and the board of trustees. This will help to ensure that power dynamics are adequately managed. In the absence of this open line of communication, there is the possibility that committees/working groups may invest heavily in work but recommendations will not make their way to the board – as they may potentially be blocked by a conflicted senior leadership team.
Trustees sitting on the values committee may help to ensure that any issues raised at committee level are fed into the full trustee board.
Managing expectations and building consensus
EDI and values committees are often composed of staff members who will, in addition the responsibilities on the committee, have their other responsibilities from their day job to manage. It is therefore important for organisations to take this into consideration by either ensuring that these committees can be convened during staff hours, or time off in lieu may be claimed if the meetings are convened out of hours.
In addition to ensuring that staff are adequately re-imbursed and supported, in their role, targets set should be realistic. There is no one size fits all approach to EDI work; however, the expectations of both staff and the trustees should be managed and communicated clearly in advance. This will help to ensure that the committees have a clear mandate to work towards and can make an informed decision as to how they would deliver against this.
Furthermore, any work around EDI should tie into the wider values of the organisation. Values alignment will ensure that EDI efforts are not tokenistic, but instead are built into the fabric of the organisation. This too will ensure that changes are transformative and long lasting.
Open call for committee members
Organisations should ensure that there is an open call for the committee members, and avoid “nominating” individuals. An individual may feel pressurised to accept a nomination to serve on the committee, if they are nominated by an individual in a position of authority. Some individuals may not want to serve on a committee and in some instances, certain issues addressed during EDI committee meetings may be triggering to some.
An open call will also help to ensure that all those who are indeed interested in joining the committee will be able to do so on an even footing.