Equality, diversity and inclusion in the time of coronavirus
Or, EDI – what to do in a lull. Elizabeth Balgobin says that although right now normality has ceased in a lot of organisations, this crisis could provide an opportunity to cease old ways of thinking when it comes to EDI and instead do things more progressively.
It’s easy to lose sight of work you have already started in the midst of a genuine health pandemic, economic and sector crisis. Right now you are busy working out how to keep work remotely, re-prioritising (again), dealing with the crisis of where the money will come from for future work, whether to furlough or not, and all of that is important for now. We adapt quickly and soon some of you will reach a stage where some work can’t continue and all the crisis management has become the new normal.
We know that equality, diversity and inclusion work has traditionally been treated as a nice to do, once we’ve solved all the other problems. We also know that approach has created a sector challenged by how unequal, excluding and lacking in diversity we are. Before you return to the old ways of thinking, working and doing, use that lull to focus on EDI. This crisis provides you with your own case study on what has worked well and what you could do differently, maybe even better, for your service users, for service design, for your staff teams and the policies and procedures that underpin all of your work.
Here are a few ideas of things you could do:
1) Carry out an EDI impact assessment on how well your organisation operated before and during the immediate crisis:
a. What was the impact on people with protected characteristics, as service users, staff, contractors and supply chains?
b. How does this match what your existing policies and procedures aim for?
c. How does this match with your stated values?
d. Did you furlough people with protected characteristics disproportionately?
e. Did you consider short furloughs to allow all staff to have opportunities to work and develop during this period?
2) Review how your communications reflect EDI principles – do your warm words match what you were able to deliver before and during the crisis?
3) Use the time to work in matrix groups to discuss the EDI challenges for your organisation and identify 3 things you can change and how the changes can be made.
4) Review and rewrite your EDI statement and policy to be clear and intentional about your commitment to achieving equity.
5) Review your recruitment procedures ready for the launch of the Change Collective EDI Recruitment Guide in late spring. Recruitment will start again at some point so let’s all prepare to do it well.
7) Review your relationship with partner charities; do you collaborate well or use the diversity and expertise of small charities to make yourself look good?
8) Review your EDI relationship with your funders. Are you experiencing what Fozia Irfan calls “coercive isomorphism”?
9) What can you share with others so that we all improve? You can contact me to act as a safe share-point to tell your stories anonymously.
10) Report what you have found to your trustee board and make EDI a strategic priority.
This crisis will pass but returning to what we have always traditionally done will leave us vulnerable to the next crisis. Covid-19 has created a chance for the planet to experience cleaner air, for a while at least, great examples of generosity, ingenuity and neighbourliness (and some examples of selfishness and greed) and a chance for all of us to work together in different ways. Let’s keep up the Change Collective momentum and use this chance to make our profession, the sector and society more equal and inclusive by recognising the value of diversity.
Elizabeth Balgobin is Interim Head of EDI at the Institute of Fundaising