Why diversity has never been more important (and more achievable)

30 November 2020
StrategyInclusivity
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Working from home

CharityJob’s Stephanie Dotto looks at what the last nine month’s of the pandemic has taught us about flexible working, and how an inclusive workplace is essential during a time of crisis.

2020 has been a difficult year for charity sector recruitment. When the pandemic hit back in March, many charities were forced to freeze hiring all together. And with 58% of charities cutting back on their services and roughly 60,000 jobs assumed to be lost across the sector, it’s left many wondering what that means for the future of diversity in charity recruitment.

In a recent survey conducted by CIPD, nearly one-fifth of employers felt that they could have handled the crisis better if their organisation had taken the time to put diversity and inclusion processes in place beforehand. Not only would this have allowed them to better address their employees’ needs, but it would have provided more innovative thinking and a better understanding of the issues facing the workforce.

In other words, more organisations were forced to face the harsh realities of their own shortcomings. And this, in turn, inspired a greater interest in inclusive recruitment.

Workforce inclusion and the pandemic

An inclusive workplace is essential during a time of unprecedented crisis. As more organisations are starting to plan out the eventual return to the office, they need to consider how people’s personal circumstances have been affected.

This includes things like:

The simplest solutions, in most cases, is to retain a better balance between home working and commuting into the office. Many charities are even considering making certain roles entirely remote, opening up more opportunities for a wider range of candidates from different backgrounds and with different disabilities and health conditions.

Though the change sounds like a small one, it’s a big step forward in terms of attracting a more diverse candidate pool. Just think about how many more fundraisers will be able to apply when they don’t have to worry about commuting costs or whether or not the job is easy to get to.

The dip in D&I focus

Of course, the pandemic shifted a lot of our attention away from long-term planning and organisational reviews, forcing us to work more reactively and spend our days putting out a range of different fires. And as a result, many diversity and inclusion initiatives were either de-prioritised or put on hold. According that that same report conducted by the CIPD, 14% of employers listed diversity and inclusion as one of their top three priorities before COVID-19 – one month into the lockdown, that number dropped to 5%.

But you have to take these figures with a grain of salt. We all know how chaotic things became across the sector – many charities were simply figuring out how to survive, so it’s no wonder certain programmes happened to slip. But what popped up in its place was a stronger sense of workforce inclusion overall, where leadership teams were suddenly more aware of the individual circumstances many people faced. And this laid the groundwork for future recruitment and diversity initiatives in months that followed.

Making diversity and inclusion a core part of decision making

With the announcement of the upcoming vaccine, we’re starting to see a ray of hope on the horizon. And though things may still be a bit uncertain in the months to come, many charities are considering how they can apply the things they learned during the pandemic to future strategies.

Phase one of the pandemic was about reaction. Phase two is about adaption. And part of that means being open to new ways of working and new ways of attracting diverse employees.

Our advice? Be open to remote and flexible working. Don’t fall back on old habits, because providing new, innovative ways of working will bring in amazingly talented people from all backgrounds and experiences.

And remember, diversity and inclusion is not about filling quotas – and it should never be about hiring someone because they’re diverse. Rather, it’s about widening your scope and providing flexible opportunities that allow for talented people to apply for your jobs, no matter their race, gender, religious background, age, or whether or not they have physical disabilities or long-term health conditions.

If you’re interested in learning more about changing your hiring practices for better inclusivity, check out CharityJob’s new guide: Diversity in Recruitment: An Inclusive Hiring Guide for the Charity Sector. There are also several in-depth resources available on the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s Change Collective Recruitment Guides page.

Stephanie Dotto
Stephanie Dotto
Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob
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