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To help your organisation create an inclusive environment for all, you may want to consider the following:
How diverse is your organisation?
Consider whether you already understand the make-up of your people regarding their demographic group, financial situation and background. If not, this is a good place to start as it will help you identify any gaps in your offer or groups that might currently be under-represented. To do this you can review existing membership or joining documentation to help you collect this information, or send out a survey for people to fill in. If you choose to do this, remember that it is important to use sensitive and appropriate language, and have secure data handling procedures in place.
How inclusive and accessible is your current offer?
Review your existing activities, communications and facilities to understand how inclusive and accessible your organisation is currently. Do the images you use in your marketing favour any particular groups? Do you celebrate diversity-related events, like Pride or Black History Month? Accessibility can also encompass physical considerations, like wheelchair access to facilities or the size of text used in marketing, as well as financial accessibility. All of this can contribute to whether someone feels like your organisation is accessible for them and can meet their needs.
Understanding the different motivations and barriers that diverse groups face.
Find out more about the things that are most important for different groups. You can use the next section of this page as a starting point and explore the helpful links we’ve included. You can also invite participants and volunteers to share their views and needs – click here to access our guidance on Understanding Your People. This will help you address the needs of your organisation’s existing people, as well as inform how you might become more inclusive for others in future.
Consider changes you can introduce to address the motivations and barriers for your existing people and those you would like to attract.
Review any information and feedback you have been able to collect and use this to guide your next steps towards a more inclusive environment. It might be valuable to develop an Action Plan to help you track changes, actions, outcomes, progress and responsibilities. This can help ensure your committee and wider volunteer workforce are aware of and part of the organisation’s commitment to inclusivity. Sharing this with your members and participants will also help to showcase your intentions and may also help you recruit extra people to help drive this forward.
Make sure that inclusivity is reflected in your governance, including policies and procedures.
Reviewing your practices and key documents can help to ensure inclusivity is central to how you run your organisation. This should extend from your committee across your activities, communications, and any documentation such as membership forms. It should also be reflected in how your organisation encourages and celebrates diversity, as well as challenges negative behaviour.
Offer your volunteer workforce relevant training opportunities.
Some organisations in the sector offer training courses on inclusivity. Courses might explore core principles of inclusivity, or focus on understanding and addressing the needs of specific groups, such as disability awareness courses. By supporting your workforce to complete such training, you can better prepare your organisation to champion diversity, accessibility and inclusivity effectively. You could track this learning and development within your Action Plan, if you choose to use one.
Create clear volunteering pathways.
Where possible, find ways to encourage and recruit people from different age groups and backgrounds to get involved in the running of your organisation. This helps to encourage diversity of thought, by having people with different views and life experiences working together. It also supports the development of a more representative workforce and committee, allowing people to see others ‘like them’ in volunteering positions, contributing to a positive experience.
Make your marketing and communications inclusive.
Use positive, inclusive language, messaging and imagery in all your external or internal marketing and comms. Ensuring that people can see others like them reflected in messaging and images can make your organisation feel more relatable and accessible. Additionally, if you decide to review diversity and inclusivity at your organisation, why not share the results in your communications to make people aware of the steps you’re taking? You should also think about accessibility in terms of the platforms and formats you use to promote your organisation, so you can reach people effectively.
If you can’t help, signpost to others who can.
Some organisations have very specific audiences or purposes, which might mean they are less accessible to some groups. For example, not all organisations are able to offer junior sections. If this is the case, make sure you are as open, helpful and friendly as possible with those who might be interested in joining but aren’t able to. If you can’t cater for a certain group, try to signpost people to other clubs or groups that do, or to organisations that might know more.